Political Tensions between Turkey and the EU

13.03.2017

A number of European countries have taken a tough stance towards the leadership of Turkey.

Scandal in Germany and the Netherlands

The reason behind the recent worsening of relations was Hollande’s refusal to let Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visit France on Saturday, March 11. He had planned to meet with the Turkish diaspora in the country.

Also, another Turkish diplomat was not allowed to enter the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. In response, the Turkish president said that they had "sacrificed Turkish-Dutch relations" and compared Holland to Nazism, citing the example of Dutch cooperation with Nazi Germany during World War II.

The Turkish community of the Netherlands held mass protests, which resulted in clashes with the police.

Earlier, Germany was also accused of violating the norms of democracy for forbidding a mass rally of ethnic Turks.

Denmark took the side of the Netherlands and announced its postponing of meeting with the Turkish foreign minister. As the Prime Minister of Denmark said, this was done in connection with "rhetorical attacks" against the Dutch. In addition, Austria and Switzerland have joined this position.

Background

Next month, an historic referendum will take place in Turkey on transferring more power to the president of the country. Experts believe that Recep Erdogan will gain power that has not been wielded by any of his predecessors since Ataturk Kemal. The West accuses Erdogan of authoritarianism and violating democracy, especially focusing on the violation of the rights and freedoms of journalists in the country.

Many Turks living in EU countries have the right to participate in this referendum, which is why Cavusoglu's visit was scheduled. Obviously, the EU wants to undermine Turkey's attempts to engage its compatriots in the referendum process.

Echoes of Fethullah Gülen’s coup

After an unsuccessful coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, representatives of the military, the press, and political parties were arrested in the country. Some of them were released after the investigation. Some of them were accused of promoting terrorism.

Officially, Fethullah Gülen, who lives in the US and has ties to the CIA, was accused of initiating the coup. Although Turkey has repeatedly demanded his extradition, the American side has refused.

This coordinated attack by Western countries against Turkey demonstrates a profound difference in political culture and possible lobbying by Gulen and the CIA in Europe.