Netherlands refuses to allow Turkish minister entry

Mevlut Cavusoglu was due to attend a rally

Netherlands refuses to allow Turkish minister entry

File photo shows the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, during a visit to Berlin, Germany | Image: Michael Sohn/AP/Press Association Images

Turkey's president has called Dutch officials "fascists" and "Nazi remnants" after they stopped his foreign minister from flying to Rotterdam.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out after the government withdrew permission for Mevlut Cavusoglu's plane to land in the country, as the leader promised retaliation against Dutch diplomatic flights.

The escalating row comes after Mr Cavusoglu wanted to campaign in the Netherlands in support of a Turkish referendum next month backing sweeping new powers for the president there.

The foreign minister, who planned to attend a Rotterdam rally which had been cancelled, accused the Dutch of treating Turkish citizens in the country like "hostages".

And he threatened harsh economic and political sanctions if the Dutch refused him entry.

Mr Erdogan is looking to the large number of Turkish people living in Europe, especially Germany and the Netherlands, to help clinch victory.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin | Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/Press Association Images

He has cited domestic threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants and a coup bid last July as reasons to back his new powers.

He told a rally in Istanbul: "You can stop our foreign minister's plane all you want, let's see how your (diplomatic) planes will come to Turkey from now on."

He added: "They do not know politics or international diplomacy. These Nazi remnants, they are fascists."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that "it is a crazy remark, of course. But I understand they are angry, but this is of course way out of line".

Mr Rutte said in a statement on his Facebook page the decision was taken in the interest of "public order and safety" after a consultation process.

But he also said the Netherlands "regrets the state of affairs".

Four planned Turkish rallies in Austria and one in Switzerland have also been cancelled in the dispute.

The diplomatic row comes ahead of the Netherlands going to the polls on Wednesday for a parliamentary election, where far-right politician Geert Wilders is set to make big gains.