Big news today. The Netherlands blocked the Turkish foreign minister from entering the Netherlands
to attend a rally for Turkish immigrants living in Rotterdam. The foreign minister was to speak on behalf of President Erdogan, and more precisely explain to the Turkish immigrants living in the Netherlands, why they should vote for the referendum in April.
A quick summary: Turkey is holding a constitutional referendum in April, where they would vote to give the President a lot more power. Basically turning Turkey from a parliamentary republic into a presidential republic, apparently after inspiration from the United States. Right now, Turkey's President is technically a figurehead. Erdogan have simply managed to have his cabinet - who currently yields the true power - to do his bidding. He wants to get rid of this extra step.
Turkish immigrants living in Europe are allowed to vote for the referendum, and there are a lot of Erdogan supporters in these parts. So basically, the Turkish government wanted to sent its ministers to speak on behalf of the referendum to local Turks.
However, German, Dutch and Austrian authorities have so far blocked several of these meetings in their respective countries, usually with the argument of security concerns.
Now, I know you can blame a lot on security, and it's clear that these three countries definitely have political motivations. For instance, the foreign minister is also speaking in Metz, France, and according to reports, he was allowed in without problems.
Indeed, some see it as Turkey messing in local Dutch elections (the general elections are next week!), where the Dutch ruling party seems to be appeasing those voters interested in voting for Gert Wilders' party PVV, by doing what he has basically been calling for.
I wonder whether it will work or not just benefit Wilders.
But one thing I do know, is that this whole stand-off between Turkey and 'Europe' will benefit Erdogan. Nothing better than enemy you don't actually have to fight. Considering the diplomatic strain between Turkey and Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, all the while Turkey is doing joint operations with Russia, one has to wonder for how long, we can still consider Turkey a NATO ally.
Regardless, I believe that Erdogan will win his referendum. Since the failed military coup last summer, he has had success in weeding out those who oppose him.