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The war of words between the EU and Turkey reached hyperbolic levels as figures on each side levelled harsh insults against the other, raising concern that the bickering parties are preparing for a divorce.
It’s hard to pinpoint when this all started, since both sides have been slowly but surely falling out with the other over the past couple of years, especially since Erdogan embarked on his goal to more openly Islamify and centralize his country. This occurred at the same time as the Immigrant Crisis was picking up, one of the relevant consequences of which has been rising grassroots opposition in the EU to Turkey’s membership. These tensions remained in the background but came to the forefront just the other week when a handful of Western European cities banned Turks from organizing referendum rallies in favor of President Erdogan’s upcoming constitutional proposals.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was supposed to fly to the Netherlands over the weekend to attend one such gathering when Dutch officials refused to grant him landing rights and forced him to turn around. Immediately afterwards, the Dutch also detained the Turkish Family Affairs Minister and kicked her out of the country. Turkey earlier warned that there would be consequences if Mr. Cavusoglu wasn’t allowed to land, and the most immediate one was Erodogan attacking his Dutch counterparts as “Fascists” and “Nazi remnants.” He even went on a tirade against German Chancellor Merkel for “supporting terrorism because of allowing the large Kurdish community in the country to regularly gather in support of their political agenda.”
Right-wing firebrand Geert Wilders didn’t let Erdogan’s taunts go unanswered, however, and slammed him in a viral video message by saying that he’s a “dangerous Islamicist who raises the flag of Islam.” Erdogan promised that Turkey will sanction the Netherlands and take it to the European Court of Human Rights in response to its treatment of Cavusoglu and refusal to allow him to address fellow Turks, while Wilders warned that “We do not want more, but less Islam, so Turkey, stay away from us,” in an ominous message widely interpreted as a subtle threat against all Turks living in the EU. The nasty “Fascist” and “Islamist” overtones of the EU-Turkish dispute carry with them strong shades of an impending “Clash of Civilizations” and seem to suggest that both sides are way beyond the point of no return in ever trusting one another again.
Andrew Korybko speaks with Serap Balaman, Turkish political commentator and Sonja Van Den Ende, Dutch political activist.
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