Netherlands, Turkey renew diplomatic ties after freeze

This picture taken on March 12, 2017, shows a Turkish national flag waved in front of the Dutch Consulate in Istanbul. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Netherlands, Turkey renew diplomatic ties after freeze

  • The two countries said their foreign ministers met on the sidelines of last week’s NATO summit in Brussels and agreed to normalize the diplomatic relations
  • The Hague withdrew its ambassador to Ankara in February as relations plunged to new lows in a festering dispute that began when the Netherlands expelled Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kayar in March 2017

THE HAGUE: Turkey and the Netherlands on Friday ended months of enmity and agreed to restore diplomatic ties snapped last year when two Turkish ministers were barred from a Rotterdam rally, triggering riots.
The thawing of relations came after the foreign ministers of both countries met on the sidelines of NATO summit in Brussels last week, the two governments said in a statement.
They discussed “the regretful events” of March 2017 that led to “a deterioration of the relations,” the English-language statement said.
Following a letter and a telephone call between Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, they “agreed to normalize the diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey.”
They also agreed “to reinstate ambassadors in Ankara and The Hague shortly,” with the Dutch foreign minister also to make an official visit to Turkey later this year.
Both nations “underlined the importance of strategic cooperation between both countries on a range of issues, such as migration, combatting terrorism and fostering economic cooperation,” the statement added.
The Netherlands withdrew its ambassador to Turkey in February as relations plunged to new lows in a festering dispute that began when the Dutch expelled Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kayar in March 2017.
Betul Sayan Kayar had defied a Dutch government ban, and arrived by car from Germany to press for the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be extended in the April 2017 referendum during a rally in Rotterdam.
Protests erupted as Dutch police stopped her from addressing the crowd, barred her from entering the consulate and then gave her a motorcade escort out of the country several hours later.
Dutch officials also banned Cavusoglu’s plane from landing as he too sought to attend the rally in the port city.
Tempers flared among protesters, and riot police had to move in to break up an angry demonstration using dogs, horses and water cannon, adding to political tensions just days before a Dutch general election.
Furious Turkish officials in vain demanded an apology for the minister’s treatment from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who accused Turkish officials of interfering with his own country’s democratic process.
Erdogan accused the Dutch of behaving like “fascists” in their treatment of the Turkish ministers — comments which triggered anger in a country occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II.
The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and the two countries have had diplomatic relations for some four centuries. But in recent years ties have deteriorated, also due to the treatment of Dutch-Turkish citizens in Turkey, including one journalist who was arrested after being critical of Erdogan.
“It’s good that Turkey and the Netherlands turned the page together and that we have restored relations,” said Blok.
“The cooperation between the Netherlands and Turkey is essential on a number of issues including the fight against the Daesh group, the risk of (militants) fighters returning from Syria, but also our concerns over the human rights situation in Turkey,” he said referring to Daesh.


UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

Khalifa Haftar. (Supplied)
Updated 21 August 2018
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UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

  • Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar
  • Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees

TRIPOLI: The UN has called on Libya’s internationally recognized government to crack down on armed groups obstructing the work of state institutions in the chaos-wracked country.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) late on Sunday night expressed its “strong condemnation of the violence, intimidation and obstruction to the work of Libya’s sovereign institutions by militiamen.”
It called on the UN-backed Government of National Accord to “prosecute those responsible for these criminal actions.”
The GNA’s military and security institutions have failed to place limits on the powerful militias that sprung up in the turmoil that followed the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Several state institutions, including those in Tripoli, have been regular targets of harassment and intimidation by armed groups technically operating under the GNA’s Interior Ministry.
Members of militias “nominally acting under the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord are attacking sovereign institutions and preventing them from being able to operate effectively,” UNSMIL said.
Last week, the GNA’s National Oil Corp. said men from the Interior Ministry had forced their way into the headquarters of Brega Petroleum Marketing Company — a distribution outfit — to “arrest” its chief.
The Libyan Investment Authority, the GNA-managed sovereign wealth fund, recently moved from its downtown Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees.
UNSMIL said it would work with the international community and the GNA to “investigate the possibility of bringing sanctions against those interfering with or threatening the operations of any sovereign institution.”
Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
A myriad of militias,terrorist groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.