Calling the Dutch Nazis for not allowing Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavussoglu to land in Rotterdam to speak at a pro-Erdogan rally, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tried to mend fences. “Nazism is alive the West,” said 53-year-old Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hoping to persuade Turkish nationals to vote to extend him new presidential powers, including staying in power until 2029. Erdogan urges the Turkey’s 550-member parliament to vote for the bill giving the president unprecedented powers due to a failed July 15, 2016 coup that threatened to depose Erdogan. Mending fences with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan admires Putin’s nearly 20-year-reign of power. Under Erdogan’s leadership, he’s followed Putin’s path of ending Turkey’s free press, believing it invites the kind of subversion that led to last Summer’s failed coup in Istanbul.
When you consider Putin came dangerously close to war with Turkey after Erdogan authorized his F-16 fighter jet to shoot down a Russian SU-24 attack jet Nov. 24, 2015, it’s astonishing. Erdogan’s foolish move rankled NATO and threw a monkey wrench into Turkey’s plans to join the EU, or at least obtain Schengen passport-free travel rights. Since shooting down the Russian fighter jet, the European Union set impossible conditions for Turkey’s attempt to obtain passport free EU travel rights. Turkey wanted to lobby ex-patriots living in Rotterdam and Germany to back the April 16 referendum that would greatly expand Erdogan’s presidential powers. Germany and Netherlands have blocked Turkish Cabinet minister from coming to the EU to sell Turkish nationals on backing Erdogan power grab. Erdogan preached to the choir when he met with Putin March 10 at the Kremlin.
Erdogan’s Nazi remarks were received badly in Germany, where Merkel battles to save her job with a raft of right wing candidates looking oust her. Merkel caused her own problems allowing nearly 1 million Syrians and North Africans to immigrate to Germany while several other European countries, including Hungary, Poland the Czech Republic refused to back Merkel’s pro-immigration policies. Calling Germany Nazis for not allowing Erdogan’s Cabinet to stage campaign rallies to back his attempt for more power irked German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel, who grew up in East Berlin, knows the destruction of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich wreaked on Germany. Erdogan wants to sell his message to Turks in the EU but has done everything possible to ruin Turkey’s free press. European Commission President Jean-Clauder Juncker rejected Erdogan’s authoritarian ways.
Meeting with Putin at the Kremlin March 10 signals that Erdogan has used Putin as a role model, fashioning his presidency after Russia’s authoritarian governing style. Dutch officials don’t want Erdogan’s interference on days before Netherland’s national elections March 15 where anti-immigrant parties have ridden President Donald Trump’s coattails. Calling the Dutch “Nazi remnants,” Erdogan’s too selfish to see the importance to Dutch voters not to see far-right candidate 43-year-old Geert Wilders win a parliamentary majority. With so much Islamic immigration in Holland, Wilders wants the Dutch, like Poland and Hungary, to break free of Merkel’s attempt to impose more refugees on the Netherlands. “If you sacrifice Turkish-Dutch relations to the elections on Wednesday, then you will pay the price,” Erdogan warned, uncertain about price he’s talking about.
Rejecting all of Erdogan’s past threats to pressure the EU into granting Turkey passport-free status, the EU views Turkey’s ruling style as incompatible with EU values and traditions. Calling on the EU to intervene in the Netherlands, Erdogan shows the kind of blindness seen by authoritarian leaders. Rejected by the EU for membership and passport-free travel, Erdogan should have known he’s not welcome interfering in Dutch or German politics. Talking tough in Metz, France, Cavosoglu told a Turkish crowd that the Dutch was the “capital of fascism” and would be held to “account,” showing the kind of bravado seen in authoritarian regimes. Since the failed coup last year, Erdogan has dismantled what was left of Turkey’s free press, arrested, charged and jailed thousands of university professors and professionals, accusing them of conspiring with exiled Sufi cleric Fethullah Gulan.
Erdogan’s post-coup crackdown breaches EU laws and values, giving him far more in common with Putin than anyone on the European continent. “The biggest problems in the case is that Turkey is talking about Turkish citizens who they want to talk to,” said Rutte. “These are Dutch citizens who possibly also have voting rights in Turkey.” With many EU countries having problems with Muslim immigrants, including terrorism in Belgium and France, it’s no wonder why Dutch and German officials would not want the Turkish government making waves in the EU. Rutte doesn’t want Erdogan giving Wilders more ammunition before Wednesday’s vote. More angry Turkish protesters in Rotterdam give Wilders more votes ahead of this week’s parliamentary elections. It’s curious whether or not Erdogan’s real motive is to help elect far right candidates all over Europe.