Erdogan says referendum yes vote 'best answer to Turkey's enemies'

Some analysts say the current row could boost Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's referendum bid by showing supporters his strong leadership is needed to counter European power
OZAN KOSE (AFP/File)
Erdogan says he will take more measures against enemies in a spiraling spat with the Netherlands, EU

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said a 'yes' vote in the referendum next month on expanding his powers was the "best answer to Turkey's enemies", in a spiraling spat with the Netherlands and the European Union.

"Our nation on April 16 at the ballot box... will give the best answer," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara. 

Accusing the Netherlands of "state terror" in preventing Turkish ministers from holding pro-'yes' rallies, he warned of further retaliation against The Hague after Ankara the day earlier cut off all high-level contact and blocked the return of the Dutch ambassador.

"We are going to work more" on measures against the Netherlands, said Erdogan. "These wrongs won't be solved with a sorry, we have more things to do."

The Netherlands on Saturday had blocked Turkish ministers from holding the rallies on its territory, provoking a furious response from Ankara.

"The biggest damage was to Europe and the European Union from the state terror exhibited by the Netherlands on Saturday," said Erdogan.

Erdogan had previously angered the Netherlands by saying the authorities had behaved like the Nazis, who had occupied and bombed the country in the World War II.

Touching another raw nerve, he recalled the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, which Dutch UN peacekeepers failed to prevent in an episode that remains a national trauma to this day.

"The Netherlands and the Dutch, we know them from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how much their morality, their character is broken from the 8,000 Bosnians that were massacred," Erdogan said.

"We know this well. No one should give us a lesson in civilization."

Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed and their bodies dumped in mass graves during the massacre, the worst atrocity committed on European soil since World War II.

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