By Adem Demir
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality city council has unilaterally terminated its sister city protocol with the Dutch city of Rotterdam following tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands, according to a municipality statement on Wednesday.
The proposal to cancel the protocol -- signed in 2005 between two cities -- was offered by the Justice and Development (AK) Party, opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and independent members of the City Council.
It was unanimously voted in favor of cancellation at the council meeting, according to a joint declaration by the City Council members which was published on the municipality's official website.
The decision came after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier Wednesday he asked Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to tell the Istanbul mayor to end the pact with Rotterdam.
"I told our prime minister last night. I told him that he should urgently inform our Istanbul mayor [Kadir Topbas] and break our sister city agreement with Rotterdam unilaterally as it is impossible for us to be sister cities with such people," Erdogan said during a rally in Turkey's Aegean Afyon city.
On Saturday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya were banned from holding rallies or meeting their expat community in Rotterdam as part of the upcoming referendum in Turkey.
Later, when Turkish citizens in Rotterdam peacefully protested against the developments, they were met by police using batons, dogs and water cannons, in what some analysts called a disproportionate use of force.
Earlier this month, Turkish ministers were also barred from holding public rallies in two German cities ahead of the referendum.
On April 16, the Turkish electorate will be asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article reform bill, which would also change the current parliamentary system to a presidential one. The Yes campaign is backed by the ruling AK Party and MHP.
Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.