Update on Turkey-Netherlands row: Turkish officials threaten to unleash migrants into Europe, Cavusoglu speaks of holy wars and Erdogan tells Turks in Europe to have more children
While Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has stated that his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte has apologized to him for the detention of two Turkish diplomats, it appears the row between Turkey and Europe (i.e. Netherlands, Germany and others), is ongoing and not improving.1
Take for example Switzerland, where authorities have decided against prosecuting a man accused of insulting Erdoğan, a crime in Turkey.2 Swiss police also cancelled an event in Basel celebrating the Ottoman victory at Gallipoli due to security concerns as ANTIFA warned they would “resort to anything” to prevent the event from happening.3
In Germany, a campaign rally to be held by AKP Deputy Chairman Mehdi Eker in Hanover was cancelled, along with three other such events.4 And while German authorities are bothered by AKP rallies they seem much less so by pro-Kurdish ones. In Frankfurt anywhere from 9,000 to 30,000 attended a pro-Kurdish demonstration, in which some protestors displayed PKK insignia.5 Erdoğan’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın described the demonstration as “another scandal” for Germany, one which prompted Turkey to summon the German envoy in Ankara.6 Furthermore, a Dutch MEP has asked for a ban on Daily Sabah copies inside the European Parliament.7
Another cause of Turkish aggravation was the March 14 EU court ruling that companies are allowed to prevent employees from wearing religious symbols such as headscarves. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ described the ruling as “a resurrection of a medieval mentality in the 21st century at the hand of courts.”8 Erdoğan naturally interpreted it as a clash of religions saying (emphasis mine), “Where is the liberty of religion? They have commenced a struggle between the cross and crescent. There is no other explanation than this. I am saying this clearly: Europe is heading toward the days just before World War II.”9
More Turkish displeasure was elicited by the head of German intelligence Bruno Kahl being unconvinced that Gülen was involved in the July 15 attempted coup and that FETÖ was merely a “civil association for religious and secular education.”10 (Although Kahl also did not believe that Erdoğan did not mastermind the coup himself.) Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık responded to Kahl’s statements:11
“…he is either blind, deaf or feels the need to hide the suspects of it [coup attempt]. This is not explainable. This brings questions to minds. Did you collaborate with them? Which part are you taking place in? … A statement like this from Germany’s intelligence chief raises doubts about Germany, and makes us ask if Germany was behind the coup.”
While Germany has taken more concrete action against Turkey, besides threatening sanctions, the latter has only gone after Dutch cattle. Beşiktaş City Council Hüseyin Avni Sipahi has stated he will butcher a cow he obtained from Holland.12 According to Bülent Tunç, the head of the Turkish Association of Red Meat Producers “The Dutch Holstein cows have become very common in our country. But this breed is starting to cause serious problems. … In future we do not want animal products from Holland. The first batch of Holsteins have been loaded and we will send them back.”13
Migrant deal in jeopardy
One hopes that targeting Dutch cattle is the extent of Turkey’s retaliation towards Europe, but based on their rhetoric they may be willing to do far worse. It appears that Turkey is not above abolishing the migrant deal with the EU and thereby flooding Europe with hundreds of thousands of migrants. According to Erdoğan, the EU should “forget about” the migrant deal.14 While Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu warned “If the EU does not implement visa liberalization, we have three interconnected agreements. The re-admission and immigration agreement. At that time, the other two agreements are, of course, not applied naturally. … This is not a threat, or a bluff.”15
Probably the most ominous threat came from Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu who said, “We have a readmission deal. I’m telling you Europe, do you have that courage? If you want, we’ll send the 15,000 refugees to you that we don’t send each month and blow your mind. You have to keep in mind that you can’t design a game in this region in spite of Turkey.”16 On the bright side Soylu’s threat amounts to a ‘mere’ 180,000 migrants per year, compared to the significantly greater number of migrants who entered Europe via Turkey in 2015.
Nonetheless Soylu has backtracked on his original statement, bemoaning that people have misunderstood him. He clarified “what I talked about were irregular migrants. Ignorant people, who don’t read and write and whose names are writers but don’t know anything about the world and who have filled their hearts only with hatred, thought otherwise.”17
It is interesting to note that over the last five days the number of migrants that have landed in Lesvos, Chios and Samos has noticeably increased to 566.18 This uptick may be a product of the improving weather in the Aegean, but it could also be an indication that Turkey is in fact beginning to unleash migrants into Europe as retaliation.
Turkey continues their insulting rhetoric towards Europe
In addition to threatening Europe with the migrant deal, Turkish officials are continuing their verbal tirades against European leaders. As Erdoğan put it “the masquerade ball is over” with Europe.19
Erdoğan has also stated that Turkophia and Islamophobia are mounting in Europe and that Europeans “are hostile to everything that is not from there.”20 He also continued with his accusations of Naziism saying to Merkel “you are engaging in Nazi practices against my Turkish brothers who live there, against my ministers and deputies who go there.”21 Not surprisingly the Güneş daily, a pro-Erdoğan newspaper, had a recent cover depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Hitler, calling her “#Frau Hitler” and “ugly aunt.”22 Probably the most outrageous statement made by Erdoğan was when he claimed “If they [Germans] weren’t ashamed, they would revive the gas chambers”!19 I think it is safe to say that the Turkish President doesn’t mince words.
Çavuşoğlu also had some interesting things to say. He equated the social democrats with the “fascist” Wilders saying they “all have the same mentality” and that “Holy wars will soon begin in Europe” just as in the past.23 He accused Rutte of being a liar saying “He is not an honest man. I thought he was a real man. We sat with him and negotiated the refugee agreement. I thought he was a real man, but he is not. He is not honest.”24
Yıldırım stated “When it comes to Turkey, we see how they [Europe] are a dictatorship engaged in repressive practices. … Racism has been restrained for a while in Europe. But these hostile policies will not lead you to the right conclusion.”25 Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, the minister who was expelled from Holland described her “inhumane” treatment as “biased, racist and xenophobic.”26
European leaders continued to be bothered by Turkish accusations that they are fascists and Nazis. According to Donald Tusk “If anyone sees fascism in Rotterdam, they are completely detached from reality” while Jean-Claude Junckers stated “I will never accept this comparison between the Nazis and the (modern-day) governments.”27 Merkel attempted to take the high-road saying “I don’t intend to participate in this race to trade provocations. … The insults need to stop.”28 She also said “Unfortunately we see that these comparisons have not ceased, and we are not going to allow … every taboo to be broken with no regard to the suffering of those who were persecuted and murdered under Nazism.”29 Her chief of staff Peter Altmaier also warned “An entry ban [on Turkish ministers] would be a last resort. But we reserve the right to do that.”30
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen admitted “Turkey is not making it easy for us within NATO” but conceded that “no one should believe that a Turkey outside NATO would listen better to us or would be easier to deal with than a Turkey in NATO.”31 German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel believes “Today Turkey is definitely further away from becoming a member of the European Union than ever before,” while Austria’s Foreign Ministry considers “Turkey’s accession to the EU is therefore unthinkable.”32 Junckers warned that if Turkey reintroduces the death penalty, which is something Erdoğan has been speaking of, then “that would be tantamount to breaking off negotiations.”33 Gabriel also declared “we are tolerant but we’re not stupid. That’s why I have let my Turkish counterpart know very clearly that a boundary has been crossed here.”34
There are also diplomatic rows between Turkey and European countries unrelated to the issue of Turkish politicians campaigning in support of the upcoming referendum. Apparently a Turkish cabinet minister called on Bulgarians living in Turkey to vote for Lyutvi Mestan’s DOST party in the upcoming March 26 Bulgarian parliamentary elections. According to Bulgarian President Rumen Radev “Turkey is our neighbor, friend and partner and we insist on developing good neighborly relations. But Turkey’s interference in our elections is a fact, and this interference is inadmissible.”35 In response to such election interference, Bulgaria has recalled its ambassador in Ankara.36
It has also been reported that leaflets (see image below) reading “This fight is the cross with the crescent. Be one under the crescent. We will be very crowded. You will see.” have been distributed in Muslim villages in the Greek province of Thrace.37 It appears Turkish officials are the ones distributing such leaflets (although it is not clear to me if this is in fact the case), the message of which is in accordance with Erdoğan’s statement that Europe “have commenced a struggle between the cross and crescent.”
Erdogan advises Turks in Europe to have more children
When Erdoğan isn’t accusing European leaders of being Nazis, he seems keen to give Turks living in Europe advice. Speaking at a rally in Central Anatolia he said (emphasis mine):38
“I am calling out to my citizens, by brothers and sisters in Europe … Have not just three but five children. … The place in which you are living and working is now your homeland and new motherland. Stake a claim to it. Open more businesses, enroll your children in better schools, make your family live in better neighborhoods, drive the best cars, live in the most beautiful houses. That’s because you are the future of Europe. It will be the best answer to the vulgarism, antagonism, and injustice made against you.”
Erdoğan’s promotion of Turks in Europe having large families should come as no surprise, as it is fully consistent with hijra, a migration of Muslims to non-Muslim lands, where they will out-breed the locals and, given enough time, eventually become the majority.39 In effect Turkey and the rest of the Muslim world is not powerful enough to conquer the West through a military jihad, but instead may be able to do so with a demographic jihad due to their own fecundity and the Europe’s reproductive vitality.
Most European are unaware of demographic jihad through hijra, but possibly Erdoğan’s statements may enlighten them on the issue. However, Europe’s right is aware of this situation as Marion Le Pen responded to Erdogan’s call for procreation: “Dear Erdoğan, the future of Turkish people living in Europe is Turkey.”40
When this row was initially unfolding, I speculated that a beneficiary of it would be Geert Wilders and his PVV party.41 While the media is attempting to promulgate the notion that the PVV did poorly in the March 14 Dutch general elections, this is clearly a false narrative. While Rutte’s VVD won the election garnering 33 seats, this was 8 fewer than in 2012.42 The PVV gained 5 seats (20) having the second most seats in the Dutch parliament. The Labour Party (PvdA) did very poorly losing 19 seats compared to 2012. In effect, while the PVV did not do as well as some people wishfully expected, the Dutch political landscape is shifting further to the right and it there is little doubt that Turkey’s recent behavior is partly responsible for this shift.
That being said the Dutch people still seem hesitant to shift all the way towards Wilders. I guess the situation has not sufficiently deteriorated for them to make such a move, but it seems likely to me that the situation will continue to deteriorate. Erdoğan and his minions are showing little sign of abatement. They are ratcheting up their accusatory rhetoric and threats against European leaders.
In conclusion maybe the best view of the Turkish mindset vis-à-vis Europe can be found in a recent article by Ibrahim Karagul in which he writes:43 “Yes, we are going to interfere in the internal affairs of those [Europe] who interfere in our internal affairs. Yes, we are going to defend ourselves in European countries, cities and on its streets.” The Turks aren’t playing games, they are out for vengeance. Hopefully, Europe will soon come to realize this.
 Erdogan is still thin-skinned: In the last 6 months 2,673 cases filed for people insulting him , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/swiss-wont-help-turkey-prosecute-erdogan-critic.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110923&NewsCatID=351
 https://www.dailysabah.com/eu-affairs/2017/03/19/dutch-continue-targeting-turkish-media-this-time-at-eu-parliament , https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/20/denmark-summons-turkish-ambassador-spying-erdogan-critics/
 https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/18/german-intelligence-head-we-are-not-convinced-gulen-is-behind-coup-attempt/ , https://www.dailysabah.com/war-on-terror/2017/03/18/german-intelligence-chief-not-convinced-of-feto-involvement-in-turkey-coup-attempt
 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-family-minister-accuses-dutch-of-savagely-violating-freedom.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110870&NewsCatID=510 , https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2017/03/17/family-minister-kaya-describes-how-dutch-police-held-her-at-gunpoint
 https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/18/erdogan-signals-reinstatement-of-death-penalty-after-referendum/ , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/introduction-of-death-penalty-in-turkey-will-break-off-eu-negotiations-european-commission-head-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110997&NewsCatID=510
 http://en.protothema.gr/bulgaria-recalls-its-ambassador-to-turkey-for-consultations-amid-controversy-over-elections/ , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/bulgaria-recalls-turkey-envoy-for-consultation-over-election-row-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110934&NewsCatID=510