Update on Turkey-Netherlands row: Erdogan says the Dutch were complicit in the Srebrenica massacre
The diplomatic row between Turkey and Europe continues unabated. Here are some of the most recent happenings and developments on the situation.
President Erdoğan proffered an explanation for Europe’s recent behavior against Turkey, “A part of the European Union countries, unfortunately, cannot tolerate the rise of Turkey, and Germany is right at the top [of the list].”1 Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş went further saying:2
“What happened in Europe yesterday and the day before yesterday was a kind of evil that grew out of enmity for Islam, enmity for Turkey, enmity for foreigners and enmity for Erdoğan. … They do not want a strong Turkey, they do not want a Turkey that can lead oppressed nations. Whatever you do, Turkey will lead oppressed nations and end those games.”
Erdoğan continued his defamation of the Netherlands, even taking it to a new level, when he accused them of being complicit in the Srebrenica massacre which occurred in 1995 during the Bosnian War. He said:3
“One must not open fire on a medical team even during war. But if you are like the Dutch you can do so, because we know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how depraved their character is from how they slaughtered 8,000 Bosnians there.”
Erdoğan once again brought up the fascism card and made an appeal to the entire Muslim world when he said “This matter is not a matter merely for Turkey. This fascism that shows its dirty face is negatively impacting all Muslims and foreigners living in Europe.”4 He equated Holland’s treatment of Ministers Çavuşoğlu and Kaya with “state terror.” He also called the two Dutch police officer who escorted Kaya out of the country as “gorillas.”5 Interestingly enough, Kaya has stated that she was ready to die in the Netherlands (I am not sure why she expected death as a possible outcome).6 Kurtulmuş also characterized Holland’s stance as “barbaric” and “wild.”7 With the Dutch having such a poor reputation–in the eyes of Turks–Erdoğan concluded “Nobody should give us a lesson on civilization.”3
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte dismissed the scurrilous Srebrenica claim as “a repugnant historical falsehood.” He also said that Erdoğan “continues to escalate the situation.”3
Erdoğan also had another go at Germany, asking “Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country? Why are you not doing anything?”8 Merkel responded that such allegations are “clearly absurd.” She also lent her support to the Dutch saying:9
“Germany completely rejects rhetorical and any other comparisons with the National Socialists made by the Turkish president. … This rejection is also valid for our allies, such as the Netherlands. These comparisons are completely misguided. They trivialise the suffering. Particularly in the Netherlands that endured so much agony through the National Socialists, it’s just completely unacceptable. That’s why the Netherlands can count on my complete support and solidarity on this.”
Beyond Turkey’s sustained rhetorical barrage against Germany and the Netherlands, there is indication that they may take concrete retaliatory action. On the important issue of the migrant deal, Çavuşoğlu, who also declared that “I am not a terrorist”10, stated “We see that the European Union has been stalling us. But our patience is not unlimited. Our citizens also have expectations. If visa liberation does not come, we will take steps regarding the migration deal.”11
Initial diplomatic and political sanctions have been proposed by Turkey against Holland, which include the suspension of high-level diplomatic ties between the two countries.12 According to Erdoğan this is just the beginning as “After the steps taken in a cabinet meeting [late on March 13], there will be further steps in the pipeline. … Issuing an apology will not suffice. The Netherlands will be held to account for what it did.”13 Rutte responded to the prospects of sanctions, “I continue to find it bizarre that in Turkey they’re talking about sanctions when you see that we have reasons to be very angry about what happened this weekend.”14
The leader of the Turkish opposition CHP party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was a bit angry at Europe as in his view their actions against Turkey are helping the yes vote camp and in his view this help is intentional. According to Kılıçdaroğlu:15
“These governments [in Europe] are definitely supporting the ‘yes’ vote. How can you send back the plane of a country’s foreign minister? It is done to create disorder. … And [AKP] say, ‘We are the victims.’ For God’s sake, who is the victim? Please, be assured, I wholeheartedly believe that these are Europeans who most want a ‘yes’ to come out of the referendum. … Why do they allow such a crisis? Their newspapers headlines say ‘vote no.’ What does it mean? It means vote yes. … They [AKP] could not find an internal enemy; now they want to create an enemy abroad.”
Finally it is interesting to note that not all European nations are backing Holland and Germany. While countries like Denmark have called on Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to postpone his upcoming scheduled rally in that country and Austrian Chancellor Kern is attempting to ban Turkish ministers from campaigning in his country,16 the Greek government of all people are seemingly siding with Turkey.
According to Greek Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs George Katrougalos “There is no reason to ban communication with them [Turkey], and there is also no reason to fuel tensions that are on the rise in Europe now and risk creating problems in our relations.”17 At one level I can understand Katrougalos’ conciliatory stance, as Greece is in a weak position to confront Turkey. I highly suspect that if Greece behaved towards Turkey like the Netherlands has, then outright military hostility would likely erupt between the two.
Nonetheless with most of Europe and the EU adopting a rather strong stance towards Turkey, one would wonders why Greece is also not doing so as they would have the support of the rest of Europe against Turkey. Katrougalos’ stance is all the more odd as the day before his statement “two Turkish CN-235 reconnaissance aircraft and two F-16 fighter jets violated Greek airspace a total of 20 times.”18 One would think that Greeks would understand that appeasing Turkey will not lead to more amiable relations, but I guess not.
 https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2017/03/14/austria-will-ban-turkish-ministers-from-campaigning-in-the-country-chancellor-says , https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2017/03/12/denmarks-pm-rasmussen-calls-on-turkish-pm-yildirim-to-delay-planned-visit