Foreign Minister lashes out at Turkey

The relationship between the Netherlands and Turkey was yet again put to the test when Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink was brought into questioning by the Turkish terrorism police on January 6. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, was attending the annual ambassadors' conference in Turkey and was quick to react to the case.

"Relieved," he tweeted, after Geerdink was released. "Freedom of press in Turkey, and this case, continue to be points of concern." He also discussed the issue with his counterpart in the Turkish government.

The Minister had already stated his worries concerning freedom of press and civil rights violations in Turkey on Friday. In his address on Wednesday to the gathered ambassadors, Koenders characterized the restrictions of freedom of speech, arrests of journalists and raids on media as "worrying developments". He stated that  press freedom in Turkey will remain an important focus for the Netherlands and the European Union.

"Intimidation of journalists is unacceptable," he emphasized.

Minister Koenders also touched on the subject of Turkish criticism of Dutch integration policy as well. He says that while he is open to discussing issues about integration in the Netherlands, he clearly stated the core of the matter is a Dutch affair which has no room for outside interference.

Koenders began his speech detailing his deep concerns about ISIS, the Syrian regime and the developments in Iraq and Syria. He does not want to see the efforts of the international coalition to go to waste and called for international support for the Syrian opposition. The Minister expressed his happiness with Turkey's role in the fight against ISIS and stressed the fight as a global issue.

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