Ankara, Turkey (Reuters): Turkey said on Monday it would suspend high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands after Dutch authorities prevented its ministers from speaking at rallies of expatriate Turks, deepening the row between the two NATO allies.
The sanctions - which include a ban on the Dutch ambassador and diplomatic flights from the Netherlands but do not appear to include economic measures or travel restrictions for ordinary citizens - mark another low point in relations between Turkey and the European Union, which it still officially aims to join.
President Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking Turkish voters' support in an April 16 referendum on boosting his powers as head of state, has previously accused the Dutch government of acting like "Nazi remnants" for barring his ministers from addressing expatriate Turks to drum up votes.
The row is likely to further dim Ankara's prospects of EU membership. It also comes as Turkey wrestles with security concerns over militant attacks and the war in neighboring Syria.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told a news conference after a cabinet meeting, "We are doing exactly what they did to us. We are not allowing planes carrying Dutch diplomats or envoys from landing in Turkey or using our airspace. Those creating this crisis are responsible for fixing it."
Kurtulmus, the government's chief spokesman, also threatened to scrap Turkey's deal to stop the flow of migrants into Europe, saying the agreement may need to be re-evaluated. He said high-level government meetings would be suspended between the two countries until the Netherlands had atoned for its actions.
Earlier Erdogan threatened to take the Dutch to the European Court of Human Rights.
foreign ministry sources said that Turkey also summoned the Dutch charge d'affaires on Monday to complain about the ban - imposed due to fears of unrest and also to Dutch distaste at what Europe sees as an increasingly authoritarian tone from Erdogan - and the actions of police against Turkish protesters in Rotterdam over the weekend.