Bryza: Turkey, EU should solve dispute, rebuild strong working ties

Bryza: Turkey, EU should solve dispute, rebuild strong working ties

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 12

By Anakhanum Khidayatova - Trend:

The mere fact that a foreign minister of a NATO member state must ask for permission from a NATO ally government to visit that country is difficult for Ankara to comprehend, Matthew Bryza, former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, told Trend March 12.

Senior Turkish officials feel this is another example of anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe, he added.

“Indeed, this incident is occurring at a particularly sensitive moment, given upcoming elections in the Netherlands, where extreme right leader Geert Wilders is using this case to whip up fear of Muslims to gain votes,” said Bryza.

This is also a sensitive moment because of the approaching constitutional referendum in Turkey, the former ambassador believes.

He pointed out that many people in the Netherlands and Germany have difficulty with understanding why the leaders of Turkey or any other country would believe they have the same rights as Dutch or German citizens to hold political rallies in these Western European countries.

It is important for Turkish and EU leaders to move beyond this dispute and rebuild strong working relations, according to Bryza.

“In any case, this dispute will likely gain Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan votes in the April 16 referendum, as it will feed the feelings of many Turks, resident both in Turkey and Europe, that they are the victims of anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic discrimination,” he said. “This will lead to an increase in Turkish nationalism and desire for a strong national leader.”

Netherlands canceled Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's flight permit after the diplomat pushed ahead with plans to address Turks in Rotterdam. Dutch authorities also intercepted a vehicle that was transporting Family Minister Fatma Betul Kaya to the European country.

Police used force to disperse crowd after demonstrators gathered near where Kaya's vehicle was stopped.

"Hundreds of police set up a barricade between us and our citizens. No power can cut ties between us," she said on Twitter.

The Dutch said their decision to cancel Cavusoglu's flight for "security" and "public safety" came after the Turkish minister’s "threat" to impose sanctions on the Netherlands if the landing permit was revoked.

Turkey responded with a statement that requested to the charge d’affaires that "the Dutch ambassador who is on leave abroad [should] not return for a while”.

In a live broadcast later Saturday, Kaya confirmed she was blocked from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.

"We expect Netherlands to return to democratic values as soon as possible.

"Freedom of expression, movement, freedom of assembly, all of these have been suspended right now," Kaya said.

A Turkish diplomatic source, who spoke to Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to media, said Dutch diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul were closed for security concerns.

Minutes after the Dutch cancelation was announced, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the move as a measure by “Nazi remnants and fascists”.

Addressing an inauguration ceremony in Istanbul, Erdogan said: “How will your country’s [diplomatic] flights come here now after not granting permission to our foreign minister?”

Several events planned for senior ministers from the Justice and Development (AK) Party in Germany have been canceled in recent days due to what Berlin cites as security grounds.

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