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Turkey blocks return of Dutch envoy, suspends high-level ties

A protester waves a Turkish national flag during a demonstration in front of the Netherlands consulate in Istanbul on March 12, 2017
YASIN AKGUL (AFP)
Turkey to block return of Dutch ambassador: deputy PM

Turkey will not allow the Dutch ambassador to Ankara to return and will suspend high-level ties until The Netherlands meets Turkey's conditions over holding rallies abroad ahead of a referendum, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Monday.

"It was decided that until the things we have said are fulfilled, the Dutch ambassador will not be allowed to return," Kurtulmus said after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

Ambassador Kees Cornelis van Rij is currently out of the country, with business being handled by the charge d'affaires.

The fierce row between the NATO members has escalated since The Hague barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing in the Netherlands for a rally in the city of Rotterdam and expelled Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from the country.

Ahead of an April 16 referendum, Turkish politicians have sought to whip up support for approving constitutional changes that would create an executive presidency.

Kurtulmus added that Ankara decided to suspend high-level relations with the Netherlands as well as cancelling permission for all Dutch diplomatic flights to Turkey from Monday.

"Until the Netherlands compensates for what it has done, high-level relations and planned meetings at a ministerial and higher level have been suspended," he told reporters.

The deputy prime minister also said parliament would be advised to withdraw from the Dutch-Turkish friendship group.

"This isn't a crisis of Turkey's making... Turkey will not be harmed by this," Kurtulmus said, just hours after the European Union and NATO urged tensions to be reduced.

He said Turkey expected an administrative and legal inquiry into the events over the past few days, including the use of police officers on horseback and dogs to regain control after a protest outside the Rotterdam consulate.

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