Turkey’s Erdogan: The Dutch Are ‘Nazi Remnants’

The remark has gained momentum among Turks, who are preparing for a referendum that could cement the rule of the Turkish president for another 12 years

Demonstrators welcomed Turkish Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya — REUTERS
Mar 12, 2017 at 6:46 AM ET

A Turkish minister was escorted out of the Netherlands on Sunday less than a day after Turkey’s foreign minister was denied entry, spurring Turkey’s President Tayyep Erdogan to dub the Dutch “Nazi remnants.”

In a multi-national feud that has further exacerbated tensions between NATO partners and Turkey, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya had traveled from Germany to the Netherlands but was prevented from entering the Turkish diplomatic compound in Rotterdam. After a standoff with the police, she was escorted back to Germany.

As she approached the German border, Kaya wrote that “the whole world must take action against this fascist practice! Such a treatment against a woman minister cannot be accepted.”

The visit was highly controversial because of Kaya’s involvement in the ongoing Turkish attempts to campaign among expat communities in preparation for an upcoming national referendum. The April 16 vote will allow citizens both at home and abroad to accept or deny constitutional amendments that would radically overturn the Turkish governmental system. If the “Yes” campaign wins out, Erdogan will be awarded sweeping presidential powers and both the office of the prime minister and judicial independence will be abolished.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Erdogan’s Nazi comment “a crazy remark.” Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said the Turkish consul general had undertaken a “scandalous deception” after he had allegedly denied that the minister was coming despite government warnings to stay away.

In response, Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul that the Dutch “do not know politics or international diplomacy” and compared them to “Nazi remnants, they are fascists.” Turkey will retaliate in the “harshest ways,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim added on Sunday.

The sentiment quickly gained momentum among Turks at home as well as among the more than 5.5 million expat Turks scattered throughout Europe. Tens of thousands took to Twitter under the hashtags #HollandIsActingLikeNazis, #FascistNetherlands and #YesWeAreShakingEurope. The latter refers to the “Yes” campaign and infers that Erdogan is rightfully standing up to what he has frequently referred to as a hypocritical and morally bankrupt Europe.

Several other European cities have banned Turkish officials from attending meetings which target Turkish expat communities. After German municipalities canceled several campaign events by Turkish officials, Erdogan compared German policies to “Nazi practices.”


The Netherlands is also preparing for its own national elections on March 15. There, anxieties surrounding Europe’s migrant and refugee crisis have boosted far-right politician Geert Wilders, an anti-Muslim ultra-nationalist, who has campaigned in the style of U.S. President Donald Trump, on the slogan: “Make The Netherlands Ours Again.”

Turkey, a NATO partner, has maintained a shaky alliance with other European nations since Erdogan began cracking down on civilians following last July’s attempted coup in Turkey. European countries have been critical of the country’s slide into authoritarianism evidenced by the mass arrests and purges that resulted in nearly 100,000 civil servants being fired from their posts. If his proposals are voted in next month, Erdogan, who has been in power for fourteen years and may have the opportunity to rule for another twelve.

While the EU signed a multi-billion dollar agreement with Turkey last year that required it to limit the movement of migrants into the EU, Turkey has threatened to “open the gates” if the EU reneges on commitments to provide aid, visa-free travel for its nationals and accelerated membership talks.