Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weighed in on an election in the Netherlands today saying Turks living in the European country should not vote for the government or “racist parties”.
The centre-right party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte is vying with anti-Islam extremist Geert Wilders to form the biggest group in parliament in a poll that has been fired up by a bitter dispute between the Netherlands and Turkey.
On Monday, Turkey said it would suspend high-level relations with the Netherlands after Dutch authorities barred Turkish ministers from addressing expatriate Turks inside Turkey’s own consulate, considered sovereign Turkish territory, in a campaign for a referendum about reforming Turkey’s democracy.
The Turkish president is counting on the support of expatriates in the 16 April referendum and he reacted furiously to the Dutch moves over the weekend, accusing the government of acting like “Nazi remnants” and interfering in Turkish political affairs.
“I call on my people voting in the elections there today, do not, in any way, vote for these racist parties, do not vote for the current mentality that barred our minister,” he said at a rally in the western Turkish city of Afyonkarahisar.
Vote for parties that have a dialogue with Turkey. Be careful about this.
Erdogan has previously called Wilders a “fascist” and said Turks in the Netherlands must not vote for his PVV (Party for Freedom), which wants to “de-Islamicise” the Netherlands.
While Erdogan and the Turkish government have said on several occasions they are not interested in interfering with domestic European politics, they have demanded that European countries do the same ahead of its April referendum.
“Mind your own business Europe. Do not stick your nose in Turkey’s business,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said at a rally in the northeastern province of Artvin.
Istanbul municipality also said in a statement it had cancelled a twin city agreement with the Dutch city of Rotterdam following the suspension of diplomatic ties on Monday.