Turkish president blasts Netherlands over botched rally


Turkey's foreign minister says he will go to the Netherlands to address Turkish citizens despite Dutch authorities' demands that he not show up for a rally there on the upcoming Turkish referendum.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted angrily, threatening to respond in kind against diplomats from the Netherlands and describing the Dutch as "Nazi remnants" and "fascists".

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Mr Erdogan's Nazi remark was "way out of line".

The Netherlands, however, canceled the flight clearance for Çavuşoğlu's aircraft on Saturday shortly after he warned that Turkey would impose "harsh sanctions" on Holland if it were to take such a step.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch charge d'affaires Saturday following the decision to bar Cavusoglu's flight.

Austria, Germany and Switzerland also banned similar gatherings where Turkish officials were due to speak ahead of the April 16 vote.

Turkey's escalating war of words with European Union governments, including Germany, comes as Erdogan seeks backing from Turkish voters across the 28-nation bloc for a referendum in April that would give greater powers to the now ceremonial presidency.

"These are cowards, remnants of Nazis, these are fascists", Erdogan said of the Netherlands at a televised rally in Istanbul on Saturday.

Rutte said Turkey's call for a large rally in Rotterdam had derailed discussions about whether Cavusoglu could enter the country.

Reuters quoted a Dutch official as saying that Turkey's "sanctions threat had made [the] search for [a] reasonable solution impossible".

Another event in Zurich scheduled for Friday was cancelled, as were rallies in the Austrian towns of Hoerbranz, Linz and Herzogenburg.

Rotterdam city authorities had earlier banned Cavusoglu from addressing the rally, but he had said he would fly to the city anyway.

The ban drew strong criticism from the Turkish government.

Many in Europe worry that Erdogan is capitalising on fears following a failed coup attempt in July to push through a more authoritarian system with few checks on his power.