Dutch, Turkish Foreign Ministers discuss racism claim
On Wednesday evening Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs had a half an hour conversation with the Turkish authorities regarding an alleged statement that the Netherlands discriminates against the Turkish community. Koenders spoke with his Turkish counterpart Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
On behalf of the Kabinet, Koenders conveyed serious concerns about reports in the Turkish media on what a spokesman for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said about the Netherlands. "Direct interference by a foreign power in a democratic debate in the Netherlands is inappropriate", said Koenders. He pointed to the importance of open dialogue about difficult topics like integration. The reason for the statements by the Turkish spokesperson is the publication of a Dutch government report on the doings of Turkish organizations which portrays them in a negative light. This publication upset Ankara. The Turkish Ministry is also upset about the recently published study on Turkish youth in which a picture emerges that they "are prone to extremism and terrorism support", the statement said. "Aggressive and racist accusations of Turks who are part of the Dutch society and of a friendly and allied nation are unacceptable", writes the Turkish Ministry. "We have difficulty understanding why these racist attacks, which are incompatible with our long historical ties with the Netherlands, have recently been on the agenda", the spokesman added according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. According to Koenders, his Turkish counterpart kept the conversation away from criticism of the Dutch government or politics. "Cavusoglu underlined the importance of integrating Turkish Dutch and them learning the language", says Koenders. "He expressed his concern about the reactions, which according to him, recently occurred in the Dutch society. We agreed to soon meet to further discuss this mutual concern." Koenders said that the Turkish government made these statements to indicate "that there is work" to be done. If Turkey issued a declaration stating that our country discriminates against the Turkish community and treats them with racism, it is "inappropriate", said the Minister. But he believes that it is "important to know exactly what was said". Yesterday Minister Lodewijk of Social Affairs called the Turkish allegations "an example of uniformed, inaccurate and inappropriate interference with what is done by a democratically elected government in a democratic debate."