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The Netherlands government picks a diplomatic fight with Turkey

Monday, March 13, 2017 22:50
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It looks as if the strong polling of Mr Wilders and the PVV in the Netherlands has worried the government led by the VVD. They have recently denied access for Turkish Ministers to their country on the grounds that their visits would be inflammatory.  The Foreign Minister was stopped from coming and the Family Minister was ushered out of the country. Turkey is of course a NATO ally and has recently agreed a comprehensive and close Association Agreement with the EU. This Agreement includes the free movement of people from Turkey to EU Schengen countries which include the Netherlands.

It will be interesting to see tomorrow if the idea of acting in this manner serves to reassure those otherwise thinking of voting for Mr Wilders and the PVV, or whether it simply highlights Mr Wilders agenda in a way which helps him. Turkey is angry about the actions of Mr Rutte and his VVD party, and have asked the Netherlands Ambassador to remain out of Turkey. Meanwhile protests about this in the Netherlands have led to the use of water cannon and ugly street scenes.

None of this is good news for the EU/Turkey relationship, and brings the whole issue of the EU/Turkey Association Agreement back into contention. Many voters in the Netherlands have been worried about these Association Agreements, but so far the Dutch government of Mr Rutte has gone along with them at EU level, so they do apply to whole EU Schengen area including the Netherlands. This row may serve to remind unhappy voters about these developments.

It does not look as if Mr Wilders can win enough seats to be part of a future Dutch government, but if he wins more seats than any other party it will add to the stresses and strains on the ruling coalition which emerges from the election.


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