Erdogan accuses Netherlands of mass murder in Srebrenica
In a new verbal attack, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds the Netherlands responsible for the mass murder of thousands of Muslim men in Srebrenica in 1995. "We know the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre", he said in a speech that was televised live in Turkey, according to the Volkskrant. "We know how rotten their character is due to their murder of 8 thousand Bosnians there."
Thousands of Muslim men and boys were killed in Srebrenica in 1995 while trying to flee from Bosnian-Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic. They were trying to reach the safety of an enclave, where Dutch soldiers were contributing to a UN mission. Mladic's forces caught up with the men. Their bodies were later recovered in mass graves.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Erdogan's latest attack a "disgusting falsification of history", in response to RTL Nieuws. Erdogan's tone is becoming more and more hysterical, according to the Prime Minister. "He continues to inflame the situation. In level and lack of style, this is incredible. We will not stoop to his level. This is really unacceptable and extremely annoying." Rutte said to the broadcaster.
Erdogan also said that apologies are not enough to dismiss the Netherlands' actions over the weekend. He said that he will hold the Netherlands responsible for what happened and that there is "more room for further sanctions". Though he was not specific about what these may be. It will likely not be any economic sanctions, as the Netherlands is one of the biggest investors in Turkey. Erdogan also again linked Europe with fascism, after he accused the Netherlands of Nazism and fascism over the weekend.
Earlier on Tuesday Turkey already announced sanctions against the Netherlands. These include that the Dutch ambassador is no longer welcome in Turkey, and that Turkey is breaking all high diplomatic contact with the Netherlands. No Dutch diplomatic flights can land in Turkey and the Turks want to reconsider the asylum agreement with the EU.
Rutte called these sanctions "too bizarre for words". According to Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher, the sanctions are "largely symbolic", he said in television program Goedemorgen Nederland. "It is now important to keep a cool head", Asscher said. "We'll have to wait and see how Turkey further deals with the situation." According to Asscher, the relationship between the Netherlands and Turkey is still in trouble, and that is not the Netherlands' fault.
Turkey and the Netherlands are in the midst of a political battle over the Netherlands refusing two Turkish Ministers access to the country so that they can campaign for a referendum that would, among other things, give Erdogan more power. Turkey responded by accusing the Netherlands of Nazism and fascism. France and Germany stated that they support the Netherlands in this matter. The European Commission and NATO called for calm.