World, Europe

Dutch premier: Erdogan has to tone down rhetoric

Rutte criticizes Turkish president's remarks on Dutch involvement in 1995 Srebrenica massacre in ongoing diplomatic row

Ahmet Sait Akçay   | 15.03.2017
Dutch premier: Erdogan has to tone down rhetoric

Ankara

By Hasan Esen

THE HAGUE

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday told journalists that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to “tone down” his rhetoric in order to ease the recently growing tension between Turkey and the Netherlands.

“To talk about fixing the relationship when the president of Turkey is basically rewriting the history on what happened in Srebrenica, he really has to tone [it] down,” he said as he was campaigning in The Hague.

In a further escalation of the dispute between Turkey and Europe over political campaigning, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Netherlands of complicity in the Srebrenica massacre earlier on Tuesday.

“We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre,” he said, referring to the 1995 killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys.

“We know how they are spineless and ignoble as they massacred 8,000 Bosnians.”

The massacre in the eastern Bosnian town -- the worst mass killing since World War II -- occurred when a Dutch battalion of UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians from Bosnian Serb forces.

In July 2014, a Dutch court ordered the Netherlands to compensate the families of more than 300 Srebrenica victims, saying the peacekeepers should have known they would be killed.

The comments follow the Netherlands' refusal this weekend to let Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya address Turkish nationals in Rotterdam ahead of the April 16 constitutional referendum.

The Dutch authorities first refused to allow Cavusoglu’s flight to land. Separately, then Kaya was prevented from entering the Turkish consulate in the port city by police and escorted to the German border to be deported.

“By displaying state-sponsored terror on Saturday, the Netherlands has greatly damaged the EU, its values which are no longer the bloc of laws, freedoms,” Erdogan said.

Earlier, Ankara rejected calls to de-escalate tensions with Europe, with the Foreign Ministry calling the EU’s position “incorrect” and “short-sighted”.

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