WASHINGTON: The United States has called for the Netherlands and Turkey, both members of NATO, to resolve their diplomatic row and drop their "war of words." "They're both strong partners and NATO allies. We'd just ask that they not escalate the situation any further and work together to resolve it," said a senior State Department official yesterday, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The US diplomat said that the new administration of President Donald Trump has not directly intervened in the row because the Netherlands and Turkey are "strong democracies." "I think they can work it out between them," the official said. Those comments came before Ankara severed high-level relations with The Hague and barred the Dutch ambassador from returning to Turkey over their row about whether Turkish officials can attend rallies in The Netherlands ahead of a referendum.
The diplomat did not indicate a position favoring either the Netherlands or Turkey in the crisis, which the European Union and NATO sought to defuse yesterday. But, in a broad statement, the official said, "What we would like to see is A) people allowed to protest peacefully and demonstrate peacefully but B) mindful of that, both countries need to refrain from the war of words we have seen over the weekend."
Turks are facing a vote on constitutional reform that would enlarge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers, and his ministers have launched a European tour to mobilize support among Turks abroad. The crisis between the Netherlands and Turkey comes in the run-up to Dutch general elections set for Wednesday, with Islam and immigration in the crosshairs of one of the leading candidates, far-right politician Geert Wilders.