Dutch ban on Turkey ministers sparks Rotterdam protests, police clashes

Protestors outside Turkey's consulate in Rotterdam
Protestors gather outside Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland. Mar. 11, 2017.George24LJ / Twitter

A politically turbulent day between Turkey and the Netherlands ended with the riot police clashing with Dutch-Turkish protesters at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday night and during the early hours of Sunday morning, NOS reports. 

Saturday started off turbulent with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu saying that the Netherlands is holding Dutch-Turks hostage by not allowing Turkish ministers to attend campaign meetings in the Netherlands on a referendum to be held in Turkey next month. He also threatened the Netherlands with sanctions

The Netherlands then announced that it is withdrawing landing rights for Çavuşoğlu's flight - he was planning to give a campaign speech in Rotterdam for the referendum. According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Çavuşoğlu's precense would put public order at risk. Turkey was quick to respond. In a televised speech president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Netherlands a fascist and Nazi country. It also became clear that Turkey planned to replace Çavuşoğlu in the speech by his colleague Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya. She planned to drive from Germany to Rotterdam.

The Netherlands then informed Turkey that Kaya was also not welcome. But Turkey ignored this, according to NOS. When Kaya arrived at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday evening, she was stopped by the police. An hours-long impasse followed, with Kaya sitting in her car and not being allowed into the building. Negotiations for Kaya to leave voluntarily were fruitless, according to the broadcaster. And she was eventually driven away in another Dutch car back to Germany.

Meanwhile some 1,000 Dutch-Turkish people gathered in front of the consulate. Kaya's escorted departure yielded fast and furious reactions from the protestors. Some turned against the police and pelted them with stones and bottles and whatever else they had to hand. The riot police intervened, using dogs, water canons and batons to disperse the protesters. 

Calm finally returned to the city around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb in a hastily arranged press conference.