With increasing tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands, Turkey’s Foreign Minister has issued a warning that the continent is destined for a new round of “wars of religion.” The Minister said that Dutch politicians are taking the continent “to a cliff,” which they may not be able to return from.
FM Cavusoglu issued the warning while speaking at a rally in Antalya on Thursday while giving his opinion of the recent elections in the Netherlands. Populist politician Geert Wilders failed to receive a majority of the votes, but his campaign which featured demands for the closing of mosques and banning of the Koran brought the issue of Islamophobia to the forefront of national politics.
But instead of praising the win of liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Cavusoglu warned that Wilders’ anti-Muslim beliefs are wide spread and pose a danger to the peace of the country. Cavusoglu told the crowd: “There is no difference between the mindsets of Geert Wilders and social democrats in the Netherlands. They all have the same mindset…that mindset is taking Europe to the cliff. Soon wars of religion may and will start in Europe,”
Currently there is a major diplomatic confrontation happening between the Netherlands and Turkey. The tiff is serious enough that on Monday, Ankara suspended high-level relations with the Netherlands, after it banned Turkey’s Ministers from addressing Turks at a rally in that was held in Rotterdam. The Turkish government officials were expected to advocate for a constitutional referendum in Turkey that would have granted more power to Turkish President and hard-line Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After the Dutch government banned the speeches, the Turkish President said they were acting like “Nazi remnants,” accusing the Dutch of state terrorism and having a “rotten” character.
Erdogan also claimed the Dutch were responsible for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian War. “We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there. Nobody should try to give us lessons on morality, especially not those who have blood on their hands,” he said. Dutch peacekeepers have been accused of standing down at the time, allegedly allowing Bosnian Serb forces to kill up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims.
Rutte warned that the Dutch would “never negotiate under threats by the Turkish government.” He said he would attempt to “deescalate” the current rift, but said it “takes two to tango.”
Erdogan is lobbying for 5.5 million expatriate Turks to vote ‘yes’ in an upcoming referendum which would give him sweeping new powers to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and state officials, and dissolve parliament. Critics say the move would be a step backwards for democracy, removing the system of checks and balances and move the country closer to becoming an Islamic state.