Turkish-Dutch foreign relations break down; Ambassador recalled

Turkish flag (Photo: Bahar/Wikimedia Commons)Turkish flag (Photo: Bahar/Wikimedia Commons)

Talks on improving the relationship between the Netherlands and Turkey have failed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday. The Netherlands officially withdrew its ambassador in Ankara.

Relations between the Netherlands and Turkey have been tense since the Netherlands refused Turkish ministers access to the country to campaign for a referendum that gave Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power. Turkey responded by comparing the Dutch to Nazis, calling them fascists, imposing a number of sanctions and accusing the Netherlands of mass murder in Srebrenica. The Netherlands refused to congratulate Erdogan when he won the referendum. 

Over the past months the two countries have been in talks on repairing the relationship. In December Erdogan called Prime Minister Mark Rutte an 'old friend' and said that he wanted to restore the relationship with the Netherlands. And in mid-January Rutte said he no longer demanded that Erdogan publicly apologize for calling the Dutch Nazis and fascists, according to RTL Nieuws. 

But these talks have been unsuccessful, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday. "For the time being these talks do not offer any view on the normalization of bilateral relations", the Ministry said in a statement. Foreign Affairs Minister Halbe Zijlstra added: "The recent talks provided an opportunity for Turkey and the Netherland to come closer together again, but we did not agree on how normalization should take place."

The government therefore decided to officially withdraw the Dutch ambassador to Ankara. The ambassador hasn't had access to Turkey since March 2017. "As long as the Netherlands does not have an ambassador in Turkey, the Netherlands will also not grant permission for the appointment of a new Turkish ambassador in the Netherlands. This message was conveyed to the Turkish agent in The Hague", the ministry said.