What CNN and others don’t tell: more on the Turkish headache

While Europe is facing several elections, Turkey is facing a referendum. It’s leader wants even more power than he already has. His headache: voters in his country are divided nearly 50-50 pro versus anti. In fact, Erdogan may lose his referendum.

In a bid to win his bid for totalitarian power, he’s exported his brand of nationalism across Turkey’s borders. One of the countries targeted by Erdogan was the Netherlands. Other countries included Germany and Austria.

Most ethnic Turks living in the Netherlands hold double nationality status. This is also the case in other EU member states. Anybody with a Turkish passport may help Erdogan’s bid to becoming even more of a despot, than he already is.

So he sent a Turkish minister to several European member states to take his election campaign there. In various European countries, these ministers were going to organize political rallies. In Germany and Austria, the pro-Erdogan political activities of Turkish ministers were banned.

In the Netherlands, the city picked to hold a political rally was the city which has a no-nonsense Muslim Mayor who in 2015, told folks who do not accept certain shared European, Muslim, Western values to pack their bags and move out. Not just move out of his city, but out of the country.

A city which has a large number of supporters of Geert Wilders, as well as a large Muslim population. Not all of the latter group come from Turkey. Not all people living outside Turkey are Erdogan supporters, take Dutch Kurds.  As Rotterdam Mayor Aboutaleb pointed out: a heady and explosive mixture.

Mayor Aboutaleb told Dutch journalists during a late night television interview, Dutch security forces he dispatched to the standoff with a Turkish minister, actually had permission to open fire if necessary. The reason was the presence of a group of likely armed Turkish men, imported from Germany into the Netherlands by the Turkish minister. Mayor Aboutaleb stated that in case of a confrontation between the twelve-men-strong Turkish group – backed up with Dutch Erdogan-supporters – and Dutch special forces, he wanted to be certain Dutch forces would remain in control.

Rotterdam sports a Turkish consulate which during the past years right up to the present (and into the future) is extremely close to Erdogan. It has been orchestrating various activities bordering on the illegal. To give an impression: demanding Turkish nationals to inform on people who are critical of Erdogan, intimidation and bullying of citizens, demanding the Dutch justice department breaks Dutch privacy laws and provides details to the consulate, confiscating passports of Turkish people and worse.

The political party DENK‘s main office can also be found in Rotterdam. This political party is backed by Erdogan. One of the scandals surrounding this party which Dutch journalists uncovered, was the fact its members were trolling and bullying not just voters, but also Dutch politicians.

These are but a few of the headaches of Rotterdam Mayor, Dutch politicians, Dutch authorities, the Dutch government.  The latter has been involved in plenty show-downs with Erdogan over the past years. Relations between the Netherlands and Erdogan’s Turkey have not been cordial for a long while. So hosting a political pro-Erdogan-rally in Rotterdam, was an obvious provocation – as Belgian journalists yesterday pointed out.

Before Erdogan’s minister popped up in Rotterdam, Erdogan bullied and threatened: if his minister was not allowed into the Netherlands, heavy sanctions would be taken. The blackmail slogan changed: if no Erdogan-minister would be allowed to speak, heavy sanctions would result. It was clear that whatever happened, heavy sanctions would result.

After all, the Dutch government had already refused Erdogan’s foreign minister permission to visit the Netherlands and explicitly stated, it did not want Turkish ministers to campaign in the country. So for another Erdogan-minister to pop up in Rotterdam, was a clear provocation upon provocation. It showed the particular Turkish minister refused to abide by Dutch laws and regulations, ensuring she became persona non grata and – on refusing to leave, nor being recalled by Ankara – being escorted back to  Germany, in accordance with international laws.

In tit-for-tat Erdogan-style, he called all folks in the Netherlands Nazis and is taking the country to court. Or as Belgian journalists mentioned: with his abominable record on Human Rights, Erdogan has the nerve to drag the Netherlands to the European Court for Human Rights.

As journalists pointed out, in Turkey:
– lawyers, judges and other pillars of its former judicial system were imprisoned well before the 2016 coup, followed by further arrest after the coup failed;
– the majority of the army’s commanders, but also soldiers and others, were imprisoned well before the 2016 coup, followed by further arrests after the coup failed;
– university professors, lecturers, teachers, students were imprisoned well before the 2016 coup, followed by further arrests after the coup failed;
– journalists, writers, intellectuals and ordinary people were imprisoned well before the 2016 coup, followed by further arrests after the coup failed. Turkey is a country where the roughly 7 newspapers remaining, are totally controlled by Erdogan – as are other media.

The above summing-up is incomplete but gives a good impression. One should also bear in mind that getting a fair trial in Turkey is impossible by now.  One should also bear in mind many people simply disappeared and continue to disappear. One should also bear in mind that people arrested there, run the risk of torture, rape, murder. Which is why, according to some Belgian journalists, Erdogan’s run to the European Court for Human Rights is so utterly and absolutely disgusting.

Meanwhile, DENK has continued its meddling. During the Dutch election campaign it approached imams funded by Turkey, to promote voting in favour of one of its candidates.  Moroccan imams then grabbed Dutch media attention, stating they had also been approached, or their mosques were used to promote DENK, which did not make some imams happy.

Just imagine another country exporting its very own brand and leader-cult to the USA and causing the kind of trouble the Dutch and other European governments have been facing over the past few years with Erdogan. Imagine large groups of American citizens holding double nationalities – imagine, mind – and being pressurized to forget about “America first”, saluting its flag,, respecting its Constitution and values, – or else …

For another fear among non-pro-Erdogan people with relatives still living in Turkey is, that these relatives will bear the brunt. After all, there is the Rotterdam consulate actively looking for informers within the Turkish community. Then there are arrests of critical Turkish-Dutch people on returning to Turkey for a holiday.

The Netherlands prides itself on being a democracy, being tolerant and allowing pro and anti whatevers to have their say, within legal limits. As the Belgian journalists pointed out yesterday: it is exactly this card which Erdogan played extremely well – against the present and future Dutch government.

Does this mean one-nil for Erdogan? He is dragging the Netherlands in front of the European Court for Human Right. He has ensured no Dutch diplomats and politicians can fly into his country – though the Dutch ambassador was already in the Netherlands. He has severed treaties between the Dutch Parliament and his own. He refuses to speak with the present Dutch government. He has shown his ugly side to the world.

As for not talking to the present Dutch government … Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party is leading according to recent polls. It may end up leading another Dutch coalition government. Furthermore, at least one representative of another Dutch political party which stand to gain, told media today, his party will ensure double nationalities are no longer acceptable in the Netherlands. This plan would mean, people of Turkish-Dutch descent will lose one nationality once they turn 18.

Perhap Erdogan is hoping for chummy chats with Geert Wilders? Or will Erdogan now target Dutch flower and bulb export? After all: the Dutch bulb originates from the Ottoman Empire. Whatever happens between the Netherlands and Turkey, Belgian journalists predict that if Erdogan will lose his referendum, he will merely use other means to grab total control over his Turkish Empire.

UK Guardian: Erdogan stakes all on winning.


About Kate

Multilingual arts & culture journalist, blogger, columnist, writer and translator. Contributor to international (news) media. 2014 winning columnist Gentse Schrijversdagen, Gand, Belgium.
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