The mayor of Rotterdam issued an emergency order late Saturday in an attempt to contain a pro-Turkish demonstration outside the country’s consulate in the city which has turned into a flashpoint of the worsening relations between the Netherlands and Turkey.
Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said he needed special powers to assure security throughout the center of the city, fearing that more people would join the demonstration and there was “serious concern” that riots might ensue.
Under the powers, it is easier for authorities to keep people away from diplomatic compounds like the consulate.
The protest was sparked when Dutch authorities prevented Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing in Rotterdam because of objections to his intention to rally for a Turkish referendum in April on constitutional reforms to expand presidential powers, which the Dutch see as a step backward from democracy.
Cavusoglu arrived in France shortly after being barred from landing in Holland, tweeting Saturday night that he is in the eastern French city of Metz “to have a meeting with our Consuls General and to gather with our citizens.”
French officials said a rally by Cavusoglu planned for Sunday with the local Turkish population has been authorized and will be allowed to take place unless it represents a threat to public order.
After Cavusoglu’s flight was diverted, Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, made the overland trip to Rotterdam from Germany in his stead, but Dutch police have prevented her from reaching the Turkish consul general’s house in Rotterdam and reportedly ordered her back to Germany.
Police said Kaya should take “the shortest way to Germany,” she tweeted late Saturday.
TV video on the NOS network showed the standoff between the ministerial convoy and the Rotterdam police, which was translated between an officer and the minister. After being told to return with her convoy, Kaya retorted sharply, saying “I will go to the consulate building. That is a building belonging to my country and I am a minister of that country.”
She continued that “there is no such international practice. I don’t accept that decision, I reject it and I won’t return to Germany.”
Close to the consulate, a protest of about 1,000 pro-Turkish demonstrators continued even as authorities made slow progress in driving them away.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered near the Dutch Embassy in the Turkish capital in Ankara shouting slogans against the Netherlands.
Police sealed off the entrance to Holland Street, where the embassy is located. Still, around 500 people waived Turkish and Ottoman flags near the embassy building.
State-run TRT television said some protesters hurled eggs toward the building but were warned to keep the protest peaceful.
Footage from the private Dogan news agency showed special operations and riot police outside the consulate, which had already been ordered closed for security reasons.
The crowd, waving Turkish flags, chanted slogans Saturday night that included “Netherlands, don’t be surprised and don’t test our patience,” “God is great,” “Barbarian Europe” and “Dictator Netherlands will pay.”
Turkey’s deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus accused Dutch authorities of “shameless and rude” behavior after Kaya’s convoy was stopped, adding that Ankara considered the moves against Kaya and Cavusoglu acts against “the whole of Turkey.”
Kurtulmus told CNN-Turk television: “let’s hope they soon return to their senses.”
He predicted that the Dutch government would feel “shame” and apologize to Turkey.
Earlier Saturday, the Turkish foreign ministry said it did not want to see the Dutch ambassador, who is out of the country, returned to his post for some time because of the increasingly divisive dispute.
The Turkish foreign ministry statement said that “we have expressed to our Dutch counterparts that this grave decision against Turkey and the Turkish society in the Netherlands would lead to serious consequences in our diplomatic, political, economic and our other relations.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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