THE HAGUE, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders called his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday to tell the latter that the Dutch government found a Turkish political campaign in the Netherlands "undesirable".
According to a statement by his ministry, Koenders told Cavusoglu that the Dutch government is against plans by the Turkish government to campaign in the Netherlands for a "yes" vote in the constitutional referendum in Turkey. He added that the visit will not be facilitated in any way and that Koenders will not meet his counterpart.
The Turkish government plans to campaign in the Netherlands, and for instance also in Germany, for a referendum that is set to give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power. The Turkish government aims to urge Dutch citizens of the Turkish nationality to vote for a stronger position for Erdogan.
The Dutch government had already objected the campaign by Turkish ministers and investigated whether it is legally possible to prevent the Turkish campaign. Despite cancellation of the event by local authorities, the Turkish foreign minister visited a rally with the Turkish community in Hamburg on Tuesday.
The fact that Koenders has indicated his strong opinion on Thursday does not mean the visit is now definitely off. It is not a ban and Cavusoglu has announced that he still intends to visit the Netherlands.
Cavusoglu was planning to hold a meeting in a hall in Rotterdam on Saturday and Turkish Minister of Family Affairs Fatma Betul Kaya Sayan intended to attend a campaign meeting in Hengelo on Friday. These meetings do not go through because the hall owners cancelled the availability of their facilities for the events. Otherwise the meetings were likely to be banned by the local authorities because of a danger to public order and for security reasons.
"The Netherlands is responsible for public order and security in the Netherlands and nobody else," Koenders stated. "That is why the Netherlands does not want these events to take place... we think the visit of a member of the government of Turkey to our country to conduct political campaign for the referendum is undesirable. We will not cooperate."
The subject of the Turkish campaign in the Netherlands is linked to sensitive election issues such as integration and the Dutch identity and is therefore not insignificant in the current last phase of the Dutch election campaign. Especially anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders showed his displeasure. On Wednesday he protested at the Turkish Embassy, holding a banner reading "Stay away! This is our country". Wilders demanded a temporary travel ban for members of the Turkish government.
On Thursday Wilders asked for a debate on the issue in the Dutch parliament. His request was not granted. The other parties did not support Wilders' proposal.
An offer by Cavusoglu to come and campaign after the elections on March 15 was not welcomed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "We do not want that, not before and not after the elections on March 15," Rutte said.