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Turkey suspends high-level diplomatic ties with the Netherlands

Yasin Akgul, AFP | This picture taken on March 12 shows a Turkish national flag waving in front of the Dutch Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey will not allow the Dutch ambassador to return to Ankara until the Netherlands allows Turkey to hold rallies abroad ahead of an April 16 referendum on presidential powers, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Monday.


"It was decided that until the things we have said are fulfilled, the Dutch ambassador will not be allowed to return," Kurtulmus said after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

Ambassador Kees Cornelis van Rij is currently outside of the country, with business being handled by the chargé d'affaires.

Turkey said on Monday it would suspend high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands after Dutch authorities prevented Turkish ministers from speaking at rallies for expatriate Turks in Rotterdam, deepening the row between the two NATO allies.

Dutch authorities at the weekend prevented the plane of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing and blocked Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from holding a rally in Rotterdam.

Jasper Mortimer reports from Ankara

The ministers had been seeking to harness the support of the estimated 400,000 people of Turkish origin living in the country ahead of the referendum on constitutional changes that would give Erdogan greater powers.

>> Read more: France under fire for authorising Turkish campaign event

The Turkish foreign ministry on Monday summoned the Dutch envoy to Ankara for the third day in a row, handing two separate protest notes over his country's actions.

Kurtulmus, who is also the government’s chief spokesman, said Ankara might also re-evaluate its deal with the European Union to halt the flow of migrants from Turkish shores to Europe.

“We are doing exactly what they did to us. We are not allowing planes carrying Dutch diplomats or envoys from landing in Turkey or using our airspace,” Kurtulmus told a news conference. “Those creating this crisis are responsible for fixing it.”

President Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking support for an April 16 referendum that would expand his presidential powers, has accused the Dutch government of acting like “Nazi remnants” for barring his ministers from addressing expatriate Turks.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)

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