Category Archives: Netherlands

(NYT) The Netherlands, a Tax Avoidance Center, Tries to Mend Its Ways

(NYT)

The headquarters of Warner Bros. in Amsterdam. The Netherlands has become a magnet for international corporations — especially American ones.CreditCreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

THE HAGUE — The Netherlands wants you to know that it is not a tax haven. But Menno Snel, the country’s No. 2 finance official, grudgingly acknowledges that the Dutch have become experts at something else: aggressive tax planning.

That’s backed up by the amount of money pouring across its borders. For tax avoidance purposes, the Netherlands offers the respectability and safety of a European country, while allowing big multinationals, such as Google and Ikea, to move global profits through Dutch subsidiaries, drastically lowering their tax payments.

The atrium of the Dutch Finance Ministry, where Mr. Snel works, is even adorned with full-grown potted palms that give it a whiff of a tropical tax haven. The suggestion of any parallel is probably unintentional.

In any case, the Dutch position as a tax avoidance center could be about to change. In a major reversal, the Finance Ministry this week submitted proposals to Parliament that would shut down the benefits that made the Netherlands a magnet for international corporations — especially American ones, like Netflix, Nike and Uber. Debate on the measures is expected to continue through December.

Under the proposals, the Netherlands plans to impose levies on profits being transferred to tax havens and to block companies from exploiting inconsistent national laws to take the same deduction twice. Whether those proposals will get past the array of accountants, lawyers and consultants who help foreign companies reduce their tax payments, and who have voiced opposition to the changes, is not yet clear.

Mr. Snel, whose formal title is state secretary of finance, said in an interview, “We must be fair in recognizing that some companies are misusing the open tax system that the Netherlands has.”

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Menno Snel, the Dutch state secretary for finance. “We must be fair in recognizing that some companies are misusing the open tax system that the Netherlands has,” Mr. Snel said in an interview.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

Amid a popular backlash against what many see as multinationals gaming the system, tax change has been a hot political issue in the Netherlands this year. In addition, legislators must close loopholes to avoid breaching new European Union rules that take effect in 2019.

Tax cuts in the United States also affect the appeal of the Dutch system. At the same time, new rules passed in Washington make it harder for companies to stash profits overseas.

As a relatively affluent member of the eurozone, the Netherlands offers a reliable court system and lack of official corruption not always present in island tax havens. It also boasts a comprehensive network of tax treaties with almost every nation, and little or no tax on money passing through the country. It is easy to move money in, and easy to move it out.

Those business-friendly practices help explain why the Netherlands, with a population of 17 million, attracts more foreign investment than some much larger countries, like France and Germany. In 2017, the Netherlands ranked fourth worldwide in the amount of foreign direct investment into the country.

Those huge inflows “suggest that the country’s tax rules are used by companies that engage in A.T.P.,” the European Commission said this year, referring to aggressive tax planning.

The Netherlands has been especially popular with American corporations. Google and IBM have big presences in the country, as do service providers such as the law firm Baker McKenzie and the accounting company Deloitte. Fiat Chrysler is technically a Dutch company. Nike has its European headquarters in Hilversum, just south of Amsterdam.

A building in Amsterdam that houses Google and the accounting firm EY. The Netherlands, with a population of 17 million, attracts more foreign investment than France and Germany.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

Nike has used the Netherlands to significantly reduce the taxes it pays on sales outside the United States, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. (The New York Times is a member of the consortium.)

The sports apparel maker used a common, legal method of shifting profits to a tax haven, according to the consortium’s research. First, it allocated ownership of its “swoosh” trademark and other intellectual property to a subsidiary in Bermuda, which has no corporate income tax. Then, its subsidiary in Hilversum paid royalties for the use of the trademarks to the Bermuda unit. The royalties counted as business expenses and in that way avoided taxation in the Netherlands.

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“Nike fully complies with tax regulations, and we rigorously ensure our tax filings are fully aligned with how we run our business,” the company said in a statement to The Times.

At least until recently, the Dutch Finance Ministry was a willing enabler for such arrangements. Corporate accountants and lawyers could call at the ministry for preapproval of their strategies. The Netherlands long justified its laws by arguing that they encouraged multinational companies to establish their headquarters in the country, creating jobs and investment.

More recently, however, legal thinking and public opinion have turned.

Officials in Brussels have accused the Netherlands of violating the European Union’s rules by helping Ikea to shear its tax bill. And polls show that Dutch voters have become increasingly angry at what they see as special privileges for wealthy corporations paying little or nothing — middle-class residents of the Netherlands, by contrast, can easily pay more than half their income in taxes.

In national elections last year, almost all the major political parties promised change. And the public anger has provided political impetus for the government.

Nike has its European headquarters in Hilversum, just south of Amsterdam. The company has used the Netherlands to significantly reduce the taxes it pays on sales outside the United States.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

Mr. Snel, a member of the Democrats 66 party, a socially liberal partner in the governing coalition, is credited by many activists for pursuing the task with more zeal than his predecessors.

“Menno Snel is being more proactive and more constructive in addressing tax avoidance,” said Francis Weyzig, a tax policy expert in The Hague for the charity Oxfam, which argues that island havens steal revenue from developing countries. “Definitely, there has been a change.”

For example, Mr. Snel has proposed measures to prevent companies from exploiting inconsistencies in national rules that allow profits to fall through the cracks, avoiding taxation.

Other provisions he has proposed oblige lawyers and accountants to disclose information about questionable arrangements. The Netherlands will also limit the size of deductions that companies take for interest payments, a measure aimed at another popular method for shifting profits to tax havens. In that arrangement, firms take out loans in low-tax countries but allocate the interest to the Netherlands, where it is deductible as an operating expense.

But tax is a big business for the Netherlands, leaving open the possibility that vigorous objections from multinationals could weaken efforts to retool the system.

Companies are unlikely to stop looking for ways to minimize their bills, and for countries to help them do it. And not everyone believes that the Netherlands is ready to forsake a legal structure that has helped make the country a hub for international corporations. The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency still advertises on its website that the country offers “a supportive corporate tax structure.”

Deloitte offices in Amsterdam. The Netherlands long justified its tax laws by arguing that they attracted multinational companies, creating jobs and investment.CreditMarcel Wogram for The New York Times

“The Netherlands is not serious about ending its tax haven status,” said Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament who is the Green Party’s spokesman on tax policy. He noted that the Netherlands had resisted attempts to prevent European countries from competing to have the lowest corporate rate.

Amsterdam, The Hague and other cities in the Netherlands are also home to tens of thousands of lawyers, accountants, notaries and other experts who specialize in the construction of intricate tax avoidance plans with colorful names like “the Dutch sandwich.” That industry, along with lobbyists for big corporations, has not given up trying to dilute the proposals.

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“Companies that want to come to the Netherlands and set up a genuine business — the question is whether you would scare them off by being too strict,” said Bartjan Zoetmulder, a tax partner at Loyens & Loeff, a big Dutch law firm.

So far, there are no signs of mass unemployment among the thousands of Dutch lawyers, accountants and notaries who specialize in working with foreign corporations. Many young people still regard tax advising as a lucrative career with a future, a sign they do not expect the changes to undercut the appeal of the Netherlands.

Enrollment in courses for budding tax consultants “has never been so high,” said Jan van de Streek, a professor at the University of Amsterdam who teaches tax policy, with a hint of chagrin.

Critics have dismissed some of the efforts as feeble. New rules would require businesses registered in the Netherlands to have real operations, but companies would qualify if they have an office and an annual payroll of 100,000 euros, or about $115,000 — a low bar.

And lately there has been public outrage over an exemption for shareholder dividends that is seen as benefiting Shell and Unilever, two of the Netherlands’ biggest corporations, at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Mr. Snel said that Dutch officials would continue to consult with businesses, but would apply stricter standards that were either in place or would go into force in coming years. And the secrecy is over. The Netherlands has already begun sharing information with other countries.

“We don’t want to be seen as tax evaders,” Mr. Snel said. “We pay our taxes.”

(EUobserver) Dijsselbloem to quit politics

(EUobserver) Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, elected as an MP in the March elections, has decided he will leave politics on 25 October, he wrote in a letter to the president of the Dutch Lower House. He said he no longer had the “firepower” to help his centre-left Labour party, which plummeted from 38 to 9 seats, to return from its crushing defeat. Dijsselbloem will stay Eurogroup chief until mid-January.

(NG) This Tiny Country Feeds the World

(NG) The Netherlands has become an agricultural giant by showing what the future of farming could look like.

The great indoors provides optimal growing conditions for lettuce and other leafy greens at Siberia B.V. Each acre in the greenhouse yields as much lettuce as 10 outdoor acres and cuts the need for chemicals by 97 percent.

This story appears in the September 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.

In a potato field near the Netherlands’ border with Belgium, Dutch farmer Jacob van den Borne is seated in the cabin of an immense harvester before an instrument panel worthy of the starship Enterprise.

From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he’s monitoring two drones—a driverless tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air—that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. Van den Borne’s production numbers testify to the power of this “precision farming,” as it’s known. The global average yield of potatoes per acre is about nine tons. Van den Borne’s fields reliably produce more than 20.

That copious output is made all the more remarkable by the other side of the balance sheet: inputs. Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the rallying cry “Twice as much food using half as many resources.” Since 2000, van den Borne and many of his fellow farmers have reduced dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90 percent. They’ve almost completely eliminated the use of chemical pesticides on plants in greenhouses, and since 2009 Dutch poultry and livestock producers have cut their use of antibiotics by as much as 60 percent.

One more reason to marvel: The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It’s bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass. How on Earth have the Dutch done it?

Seen from the air, the Netherlands resembles no other major food producer—a fragmented patchwork of intensely cultivated fields, most of them tiny by agribusiness standards, punctuated by bustling cities and suburbs. In the country’s principal farming regions, there’s almost no potato patch, no greenhouse, no hog barn that’s out of sight of skyscrapers, manufacturing plants, or urban sprawl. More than half the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture.

Banks of what appear to be gargantuan mirrors stretch across the countryside, glinting when the sun shines and glowing with eerie interior light when night falls. They are Holland’s extraordinary greenhouse complexes, some of them covering 175 acres.

These climate-controlled farms enable a country located a scant thousand miles from the Arctic Circle to be a global leader in exports of a fair-weather fruit: the tomato. The Dutch are also the world’s top exporter of potatoes and onions and the second largest exporter of vegetables overall in terms of value. More than a third of all global trade in vegetable seeds originates in the Netherlands.

The brain trust behind these astounding numbers is centered at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), located 50 miles southeast of Amsterdam. Widely regarded as the world’s top agricultural research institution, WUR is the nodal point of Food Valley, an expansive cluster of agricultural technology start-ups and experimental farms. The name is a deliberate allusion to California’s Silicon Valley, with Wageningen emulating the role of Stanford University in its celebrated merger of academia and entrepreneurship.

Ernst van den Ende, managing director of WUR’s Plant Sciences Group, embodies Food Valley’s blended approach. A renowned scholar with the casual manner of a barista at a hip café, van den Ende is a world authority on plant pathology. But, he says, “I’m not simply a college dean. Half of me runs Plant Sciences, but the other half oversees nine separate business units involved in commercial contract research.” Only that mix, “the science-driven in tandem with the market-driven,” he maintains, “can meet the challenge that lies ahead.”

The challenge? Put in bluntly apocalyptic terms, he says, the planet must produce “more food in the next four decades than all farmers in history have harvested over the past 8,000 years.”

That’s because by 2050, the Earth will be home to as many as 10 billion people, up from today’s 7.5 billion. If massive increases in agricultural yield are not achieved, matched by massive decreases in the use of water and fossil fuels, a billion or more people may face starvation. Hunger could be the 21st century’s most urgent problem, and the visionaries working in Food Valley believe they have found innovative solutions. The wherewithal to stave off catastrophic famine is within reach, van den Ende insists. His optimism rests on feedback from more than a thousand WUR projects in more than 140 countries and on its formal pacts with governments and universities on six continents to share advances and implement them.

(EUobserver) Dijsselbloem rules out Dutch government position

(EUobserver) Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Monday that his Labour Party (PvdA) will not participate in a coalition government following the 15 March elections, which were won by the liberals and conservatives. “It’s unthinkable that I’m sitting in a right-wing cabinet,” Dijsselbloem, who will lose his position of Eurogroup president when he is no longer a minister, told the Financieele Dagblad daily. He said the PvdA has to rebuild itself.

+++ (GUA) Dutch king admits he held part-time job as airline pilot

(GUA) Willem-Alexander co-piloted commercial KLM flights twice a month, saying it had been a ‘relaxing’ hobby.

King Willem-Alexander
King Willem-Alexander told a newspaper that he had now stepped down from role as ‘guest pilot’. Photograph: Natascha Libbert/AFP/Getty Images

The Dutch king has revealed that for more than two decades he has, alongside his royal duties, held down a part-time second job.

In a newspaper interview published on Wednesday, King Willem-Alexander said that he recently ended his role as a regular “guest pilot” after 21 years on KLM’s fleet of Fokker 70 planes and before that on Dutch carrier Martinair.

As a guest flier, the king worked about twice a month, always as co-pilot. He will now retrain to fly Boeing 737s as the Fokkers are being phased out of service. The 50-year-old father of three and monarch to 17 million Dutch citizens calls flying a “hobby” that lets him leave his royal duties on the ground and fully focus on something else.

King Willem-Alexander with pilot Maarten Putman
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King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands with Maarten Putman inside the cockpit of a KLM Cityhopper. Photograph: Natascha Libbert Handout/EPA

“You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them,” the king told De Telegraaf. “You can’t take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying.”

While it is no secret that Willem-Alexander is a qualified pilot who sometimes flew KLM passenger flights, it was not previously clear how frequently it happened. Willem-Alexander said he is rarely recognised by passengers, especially since security was tightened on board planes in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

“Before September 11, the cockpit door was open. People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there,” he said, adding that very few people recognise him as he walks through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in KLM uniform and cap.

And even when he makes announcements to passengers, Willem-Alexander says that as a co-pilot he doesn’t have to give his name. So while some people recognise his voice, it does not happen often. “Most people don’t listen anyway,” he added.

(MW) Draghi, Dutch lawmakers clash over ECB’s stimulus

(MW) European Central Bank President Mario Draghi clashed with Dutch lawmakers on Wednesday over the ECB’s monetary stimulus, underscoring mounting pressure for a policy change from Frankfurt as the region’s economy heats up.

Mr. Draghi’s rare visit to The Hague comes at a sensitive time for the ECB, which is considering when to start winding down its EUR60 billion-a-month bond-purchase program, known as quantitative easing. The program is currently due to run at least through December.

Tempers occasionally flared during a two-hour hearing in the Dutch parliament, as politicians probed Mr. Draghi on the ECB’s record of transparency, and attacked policies they said subsidized southern European countries and harmed Dutch pensioners.

“You still believe this [QE program] is fully within [the ECB’s] framework and you have not been doing any government financing, even though you [will have] bought EUR2.5 trillion of debt by the end of the year?” said Pieter Omtzigt, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Appeal.

Mr. Draghi strongly defended the ECB’s decisions, which he said had helped support households throughout the region, including in the Netherlands. He also brushed off calls for a swift exit from QE.

“It is too early to declare success,” Mr. Draghi said. “Maintaining the current very substantial degree of monetary [stimulus] is still needed for underlying inflation pressures to build up.”

The ECB is accountable to the European Parliament in Brussels, but Mr. Draghi occasionally travels to national capital cities to defend the bank’s actions — most recently to Berlin, in late September. That trip helped to soothe German lawmakers as the ECB prepared to extend its stimulus again.

This year, the bloc’s economic outlook looks far more rosy. Eurozone growth outpaced that in the U.S. during the first quarter, according to the European Union’s statistics agency, while inflation has rebounded to 1.9%, within the ECB’s target range.

Political risks have also faded, as anti-euro politicians in the Netherlands and France failed to make much headway in national elections.

As growth has picked up, Dutch and German politicians have been calling with increasing urgency for the ECB to reverse course. The bank’s balance sheet has already risen to an all-time high of EUR4.16 trillion as a result of its bond purchases, surpassing that of the Federal Reserve, which stands at around $4.5 trillion.

Nevertheless, top ECB officials say their job isn’t yet done. Underlying inflation remains weak, and the bloc’s unemployment rate, at 9.5%, is far too high.

Mr. Draghi highlighted ECB research, published Wednesday, suggesting that up to 18% of eurozone workers are underemployed, meaning they would like to work more hours, or have temporarily left the labor force.

Some Dutch lawmakers weren’t convinced. The ECB’s stimulus might have made Mr. Draghi a hero in southern Europe, said one MP, but not in Holland.

“It’s not my job to be a hero, just to pursue my mandate,” Mr. Draghi responded. The ECB, he said, has done no more than other major central banks in the U.S., U.K. and Japan, which also launched major stimulus programs in recent years.

Mr. Draghi also highlighted the benefits of the ECB’s policies for Dutch households. “As an export-oriented country, the Netherlands is currently benefiting from the recovery in other euro area countries,” he said.

“You look remarkably calm for someone who issues EUR2.5 trillion out of thin air, especially when your chief economist says there is no Plan B,” commented Lammert van Raan, a member of the left-wing Party for the Animals.

Other parliamentarians asked about the likely repercussions of a breakup of the eurozone. Mr. Draghi refused to be drawn into that discussion. “The euro is irrevocable,” he said. “We don’t want to speculate on things that have no probability of happening.”

“You’re saying there’s zero probability?” said Renske Leijten, representing the left-wing Socialist party.

“Our policy has created 4 1/2 million jobs, that’s the reality,” retorted Mr. Draghi.

The Dutch lawmakers also had a parting gift for Mr. Draghi: a tulip, symbolizing the Dutch “tulip mania” of the 17th century that led to one of the first global financial crises.

(Reuters) Dutch government ‘remains firmly behind’ Eurogroup head Dijsselbloem: official

(Reuters) The Dutch government “remains firmly behind” Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who has come under fire for remarks interpreted as insulting to southern European countries.

“The position has not changed,” a government official close to Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Reuters on Wednesday. “Premier Rutte has repeatedly said we are very supportive of Dijsselbloem in his role at the Eurogroup.”

Portugal’s prime minister earlier called Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister, to resign after he refused to apologize for suggesting that southern European countries had squandered their money “on booze and women”.

(Reuters) Dutch vote puts question mark over euro zone chief Dijsselbloem

(Reuters)

Jeroen Dijsselbloem could well lose his role as chair of the EU body coordinating euro zone policy after his party was routed in a Dutch election although there is a chance he could retain it even if he is no longer finance minister in a new coalition.

While other euro zone finance ministers may seek the post, there is a lack of obvious contenders, particularly given that many governments will resist appointing a politician from the right because conservatives hold most other top EU jobs.

There has also been speculation that the Eurogroup could keep him on as chairman until his second 30-month term ends next January, even if he loses his national job.

Even that isn’t certain, although liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte may struggle to retain Dijsselbloem in such a senior cabinet post after the Labour Party crashed from second to seventh place in preliminary results and lost more than three quarters of its seats.

Neither man commented on the matter directly on Thursday. Dijsselbloem is due to represent the Eurogroup at a G20 meeting in Germany on Friday and to chair the monthly meeting of the 19 euro zone finance ministers in Brussels on Monday.

Either way, he could remain the Netherlands’ finance minister for months yet if Rutte — who has made clear his appreciation of Dijsselbloem’s work — struggles to put together a new coalition. The premier’s party lost seats and euroskeptics finished in second place.

A future coalition might also cherish the added influence that keeping Dijsselbloem as Eurogroup president gives. In that case, it might opt to leave him in post while replacing the junior minister from Rutte’s party that currently speaks for The Hague government within the Eurogroup while Dijsselbloem is chairing with a heavyweight new figure.

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Dijsselbloem, 50, has been popular in the Eurogroup.

He has balanced a background on the left with support from conservative Wolfgang Schaeuble, who wields Germany’s power in the euro zone and has set strict terms for Greece and other bailed out states.

Eurogroup rules do not stipulate the president must be a serving finance minister, though senior euro zone officials say that should generally be the case and doubt Dijsselbloem could secure another term without retaining his national portfolio. Longer term, there is talk of establishing a full-time presidency with its own staff, but that is not yet agreed.

Party politics and a quest for influence by governments will play a role in any choice of replacement.

The Eurogroup chair is one of four political presidencies of European Union institutions governing the euro currency.

Following a shift at the European Parliament in January and the reappointment last week of Donald Tusk at the European Council of national leaders, all three others, including the executive European Commission, are held by the center-right.

That complicates the longstanding ambition of conservative Spanish Finance Minister Luis De Guindos to replace Dijsselbloem and might improve the prospects of Slovak leftist Peter Kazimir.

The latter said in January that he believed Dijsselbloem should serve out his term, however the Dutch voted. De Guindos told reporters on Thursday he would not speculate on the job.

Other center-left ministers are Malta’s Edward Scicluna and France’s Michel Sapin, who faces elections in May and June.

Portugal’s center-left government, held up by some in the euro zone as a example of successful management of a bailout, is represented on the Eurogroup by Finance Minister Mario Centena, a politically independent professional economist.

(BBG) Bloomberg Editorial Board: Little to Celebrate in the Dutch Elections

(BBG)

 

It says something about the state of European politics that the Dutch election results are widely seen as cause for celebration. Geert Wilders — a far-right populist who makes Donald Trump look like a cautious centrist — did worse than expected. But he was by no means crushed, and the anger Wilders and his ilk are channeling is still there.

In due course Prime Minister Mark Rutte will be able to form a new coalition government. (These things take time in the Netherlands.) But his center-right party has lost seats and had to tack to the populist right to avoid a worse result. “Crushed” is the only word for what happened to Rutte’s Labor coalition partner: It will have nine seats in the new 150-member parliament, down from 38. Wilders’s PVV party increased its tally of seats from 15 to 20.

In a splintered parliamentary system with many small parties, it won’t be hard to exclude the PVV from the new coalition government — but this was no shattering defeat for the far-right.

And consider what it took to contain the threat. Rutte had to toughen his language (if not his policy) on immigration — “behave normally or leave,” he told migrants in a letter published in January in Dutch newspapers. Rutte’s standing up to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late in the campaign probably also helped his cause.

More encouraging is that the Netherlands, unlike the U.K., shows little interest in quitting the European Union. On the whole, strongly pro-EU parties did well in the election (often at Labor’s expense), and Wilders’s fervid opposition to the EU may actually have held him back. There’s plenty of euroskepticism in the Netherlands, but it’s mostly loyal dissent: The Dutch are in no hurry to follow the U.K. out.

Immigration remains the most troublesome issue. The Netherlands used to stand as a model for multiculturalism, but no longer. Like many other EU countries, the Netherlands has failed to assimilate its immigrants.

It can be argued that this is partly by design — it’s what multiculturalism means. If the sentiments driving far-right populism are to be defeated, however, assimilation will have to take precedence. Education, language training and housing policy must be recruited to the cause. Making it easier for migrants to find work — the Dutch record on this is especially poor — is crucial.

It’s encouraging that Wilders didn’t do better. But he and his allies aren’t going away.

+++ (BBG) Europe Gets Reprieve in Dutch Election, But the Center Fragments

(BBG) When Donald Trump was elected U.S. president in November his Dutch equivalent, Geert Wilders celebrated the arrival of a “Patriotic Spring” that would lift anti-immigrant nationalists to power across Europe. That uprising failed to materialize in the Netherlands.

Instead, the populist breakthrough Wilders had predicted for 2017’s run of elections starting in his homeland, followed by France, Germany and perhaps Italy now looks no more likely than a centrist, pro-European revival.

Mark Rutte on March 15.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The year could end with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte still in power, the unabashedly reformist, pro-European Union Emmanuel Macron in the Elysee Palace, and either Angela Merkel or the still more EU-friendly Martin Schulz in the chancellery in Berlin, breathing signs of life into the bloc’s tired Franco-German engine.

“The Netherlands shows us that the breakthrough of the extreme right is not inevitable and that European progressives are growing in strength,’’ Macron wrote in one of a stream of Tweets from relieved politicians around Europe. Merkel’s office posted that she had called Rutte to say she looked forward to working together as “friends, neighbors and Europeans.’’

The euro soared after the first exit poll indications of a Rutte victory, winning a projected 33 seats in parliament to Wilders’s 20, before losing its gains as any sense of euphoria faded.

Wednesday’s vote was encouraging mainly for what didn’t happen. An upset win for Wilders would have eroded faith in opinion polls that currently suggest the hard right National Front’s Marine Le Pen will lose in the second round of French presidential elections in May. That’s an election with far greater potential repercussions for the European Union and the bloc’s $17 trillion economy. Le Pen, like Wilders, has pledged to try to take her country out of the euro and threatens all sorts of trouble for the EU should she win.

“There was a narrative, which was very strong, that exaggerated the strength of the populist right after Trump and Brexit,” said Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist and authority on populism at the University of Georgia, in the U.S. “That narrative can switch pretty fast.”

Won’t Last

Still, the results offered little evidence that Wilders, whose Freedom Party won four more seats than in 2012, populism or the concerns that feed them have gone away.

“What we’ve seen in the Dutch election is that the center has been holding,” UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday. “That leads to a short relief rally in the market. It’s not going to last.”

UBS Chairman Weber Says Relief Rally Won’t Last

Source: Bloomberg

A River Journey Shows Why Populists Can’t Win Europe’s Heartland
One problem is that the Dutch vote only underscored the worrying fragmentation of Europe’s political center, which tends to make driving through effective solutions to popular concerns more difficult. Rutte’s Liberals lost seats compared to the last election, while his former Labor party coalition partners had their worst night on record. To govern this time, Rutte will need at least three other parties to form a majority in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.

Similarly, if Macron should win in France, a large number of left-wing voters will have backed him to defeat Le Pen, rather than to endorse his policies. Polls suggest that Merkel, too, would emerge with a weaker mandate if she manages to defeat Schulz in the fall.

“The key thing, which is hard to measure but more and more important, is how many people vote against a candidate, and not for someone,” said Mudde. “The consequences are very big, because that someone comes to power without a real mandate.”

Disaffected

That could make any sweep of centrist victories more a remission than a revival, according to Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform in London. Mainstream political leaders will continue to struggle to find answers to rising public concerns over jobs and identity that the euro crisis, terrorist attacks and the 2015 influx of refugees from the Middle East have pushed to the fore, he said. He added that it would only take a big terrorist attack or renewed wave of refugees to change the outlook for the French election, or Europe in general.

A Europe-wide poll last year found majorities dissatisfied with democracy, in favor of banning further Muslim immigration, and convinced the U.K. would not be the last country to abandon the EU. In most of the 12 countries surveyed, a plurality also opposed further EU integration, which may be needed to permanently stabilize the euro.

“There really isn’t any sign” that EU leaders are starting to get to grips with these issues, said Grant. “If the EU was a dynamic organization capable of answering these questions, the U.K. would not be leaving.”

That suggests claims such as from the British pollster Peter Kellner that “Peak populism” may already have been reached are at least premature. With almost two months to go before the final round of the French presidential vote, and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi plotting to replace a caretaker Italian government in a political comeback that features a pledge to bring back the lira, there is scope for a populist resurgence.

Moreover, Rutte appeared to gain significantly in the final days of the Dutch election campaign by adopting some of Wilders’s populist language on immigration. In particular, he responded robustly to attempts by the Turkish government when it tried to campaign among expatriates for a coming constitutional referendum in Turkey. Celebrating his victory in the early hours of Thursday, Rutte said voters had rejected “the wrong kind of populism.’’

+++ (JN) Aeroportos: Tecnologia portuguesa “non-stop” mostra-se em Amesterdão

(JNA solução-conceito desenvolvida pela portuguesa Vision-Box quer reduzir o tempo despendido pelos passageiros nos aeroportos durante os procedimentos de controlo, garantindo ao mesmo tempo os padrões de segurança.

A empresa portuguesa Vision-Box está a testar em Amesterdão, durante a mostra sectorial Passenger Terminal Expo, uma tecnologia que pretende reduzir o número de paragens dos passageiros durante os processos de controlo nos aeroportos.

O conceito Seamless Gateway apresenta-se como o “primeiro sistema sem contacto e de identificação biométrica através da face”, que contribui para reduzir a quantidade de paragens do viajante em locais de controlo, nomeadamente com as autoridades fronteiriças.
A identificação é feita em poucos segundos através de reconhecimento facial e enquanto o passageiro se desloca. O próprio sistema disponibiliza, se necessário, meios alternativos de identificação, adaptando-se às necessidades de cada passageiro.

Em comunicado enviado às redacções, a Vision-Box assegura a interoperabilidade deste sistema de forma a garantir procedimentos de segurança elevados e proporcionando ao utilizador uma nova experiência durante a viagem.
A tecnologia desenvolvida pela empresa sediada em Carnaxide captura imagens de cada passageiro durante os procedimentos de chegada e faz corresponder esses elementos aos seus dados de identificação biométricos e biográficos.
Os elementos relativos ao passageiro ficam desta forma disponíveis para interligação com as bases de dados do aeroporto, da companhia aérea e dos serviços de imigração, sem necessidade de mais contactos.
Segundo o comunicado, a Vision-Box gere mais de 1300 soluções de controlo automatizado de fronteiras em mais de 70 aeroportos internacionais e dispõe de mais de quatro mil sistemas electrónicos de identificação implementados pelo mundo.

(EUobserver) PM Rutte wins Dutch election, Wilders contained

(EUobserver

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right Liberal party remains the largest political party in the Netherlands, after lower house elections on Wednesday (15 March).

The Party for Freedom (PVV) of anti-EU MP Geert Wilders gained five seats, as of Thursday morning with 95 percent of the votes counted.

  • Wilders: “I would have preferred to become the biggest party”. (Photo: Reuters)

Wilders ended up in second place with 20 seats out of 150, a less triumphant victory than in the 2010 elections, when his party won 24 seats.

Rutte said following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the US election of Donald Trump, that the Netherlands had said “stop” against “the wrong type of populism”.

“The message that we want to continue the course the coming years, to keep this country safe, stable and wealthy, has been heard,” he said, adding that he would “give everything” to form a “stable government that can govern this country wisely the next four years”.

Wilders said he would like to participate in a coalition government but is highly unlikely given his party’s radically different views.

“I would have preferred to become the biggest party,” said Wilders.

But while Rutte’s party came out top, with 33 seats, it was a relative success given that the Liberals lost eight seats. The election result was a harsh verdict of Rutte’s pragmatic coalition with the centre-left Labour party.

Labour suffered the worst electoral defeat in its history. It had won 38 seats in 2012, but this year received only 9 seats.

The mood at a gathering of Labour’s top brass in Amsterdam on Wednesday night was gloomy.

“This hurts, of course,” said Lilliane Ploumen, Labour’s trade and development minister.

“We have worked hard for four years to drag the Netherlands out of the crisis, together with the Liberals,” she told EUobserver. “It is important that this job was done. But it is also important that people feel it. Apparently they did not feel it.”

Her colleague, foreign minister Bert Koenders told this website that the main reason for the loss was that Labour was the “junior partner” in the coalition.

“The coalition has reformed the country, also in a social way, but the credits go to the largest partner. You often see that,” said Koenders. “What I do find relatively positive is the small gains for the PVV. They won, four seats, but it is not the larger success that some had expected.”

Koenders spoke when exit polls predicted a four-seat gain for Wilders, instead of five.

Labour’s defeat also raises the question of whether its member Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who was finance minister, can remain president of the Eurogroup, the body of eurozone finance ministers.

Elsewhere in Amsterdam, the supporters of GreenLeft celebrated in a concert hall. Their party’s representation in the lower house made a substantial jump from four seats to 14.

“Populism has stopped here in the Netherlands,” GreenLeft leader Jesse Klaver told the crowd.

“Geert Wilders has won some seats on this election night, but just a couple. It was not the breakthrough he was hoping for,” Klaver later added talking to press.

He told Euobserver the election result did not provide a clear pro- or anti-European picture.

“However, it is remarkable that the one who really wants a Nexit, made only limited gains,” he said, noting that his party and the centrist D66, both proudly pro-EU, both increased in size.

D66 went from 12 to 19 seats, while the centre-right Christian-Democrats went from 13 to 19 seats.

“I do see this as a small helping hand for pro-European forces in the Netherlands,” he added.

Former GreenLeft MEP Joost Lagendijk was also present at the party in Amsterdam. He now works as an analyst.

He told EUobserver that the “domino theory” – Brexit, Trump, and possibly populist gains in elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany – has stopped.

“If Wilders had become the largest, then that would have been an enormous support for [French far right presidential candidate Marine] Le Pen. This proves that there is a ceiling to populists’ [popularity],” said Lagendijk.

The Green ex-MEP said he thought Rutte had won because of an “Erdogan effect” – the diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey helped him emit statesmanship.

Difficult coalition talks follow next. At least four parties will be needed to form a majority in the lower house.

The Dutch voted for a highly fragmented lower house, with representation for 13 parties.

Two new parties entered the parliament: Denk and Forum for Democracy. The first says it defends the interests of Dutch citizens with a migration background, the second is an anti-EU think tank that campaigned against the EU-Ukraine association agreement.

(Politico) How to lose but win: 5 takeaways from the Dutch election

(Politico) THE HAGUE, Netherlands — It’s not often in politics that you can lose a quarter of your seats in parliament and still call yourself a winner.

But that’s what’s happened to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, according to anexit poll and preliminary results from Wednesday’s general election.

Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) remains the largest in the new parliament and far-right firebrand Geert Wilders failed to complete a populist hat-trick after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) was in a race for second place with two other parties, making modest gains on his 2012 election result but faring less well than he did two years earlier.

Here are five takeaways from the election:

1. The Turkish drama probably helped Rutte

This was an election lacking a narrative until Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan waded in. Against the wishes of the Dutch government, Erdoğan tried to send Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to address a rally in Rotterdam to encourage the Dutch-Turkish community to grant him greater powers in an April referendum. When the Dutch blocked that attempt, a second minister, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, was sent to the Netherlands from Germany by car. Police intervened as she approached the Rotterdam consulate, a protest kicked off, and photos of the scene circulated on outraged Turkish media. Erdoğan called the Dutch “Nazi remnants”.

Finally, the boring Dutch election had a story. And Rutte could appeal to voters tempted by populist candidates.

“He got to throw out a woman in a headscarf, it’s an electoral wet dream. You couldn’t script it,” said André Krouwel, a political scientist at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Finally, the words “as prime minister,” a refrain emphasizing his experience that Rutte had repeated throughout the campaign, actually seemed to have meaning.

 With so many parties to choose from — there were 28 on the ballot this time — many Dutch voters waver between the two or three, watching the campaign and choosing based on who looks strongest on the day. Rutte was hoping for between 24 and 28 seats. He may owe the extra few to Erdoğan.

2. Now the real struggle begins

The result is untidy. Voters fled traditional big parties in all directions. With Rutte’s party the largest in parliament with just 31 or 32 seats, the 76 seats that would grant a majority in parliament is a long way off. Rutte will almost certainly begin courting his closest political neighbors, the Christian Democratic Appeal and the market-friendly liberals D66, both of which are set to take around 19 seats each.

But together that count wouldn’t reach 76. A left-ish party will have to be courted to plug the gap. It could be GreenLeft or the Labor Party — which might be tempted to crawl under a rock and lick its wounds because…

3. Labor has been brutally crushed

The Labor Party is an old titan of Dutch politics that could once command large pluralities. It is set to be reduced from 38 seats to just nine: the greatest defeat in Dutch political history, according to broadcaster NOS. It’s a brutal verdict on its decision to go into coalition with Rutte in 2012. It’s also a reflection of a dilemma haunting the mainstream left across Europe: if they tack to the center, they are deserted by traditional supporters; if they move left, they lose appeal among moderates.

4. Pro-European Parties made big gains

The Dutch election was seen from abroad as a kind of referendum on the EU. This was always a simplistic view but, whatever lessons can be taken from the result, it certainly wasn’t a rejection of the bloc. Two parties set to make substantial gains in seat numbers, GreenLeft and D66, both ran openly pro-EU campaigns. At least one of them is likely to be part of the next government. Brussels can count on a solid ally as the Brexit talks approach.

5. For the greens, first the party — then the dilemma

GreenLeft had a historic result, the party’s biggest ever showing, possibly quadrupling its seats from four to 16. However, it isn’t a big enough win to make the party a major player. Even if 30-year-old leader Jesse Klaver is now the leader of the Dutch left, as was his stated ambition, the left is not in great shape. Klaver’s team built an enthusiastic grassroots movement for this campaign, telling supporters that a left-wing coalition was possible. That hasn’t been borne out by the results. Tonight the greens will party: tomorrow, Klaver will face the dilemma of whether to use the movement he built to shore up the majority of a right-of-center prime minister. Klaver wants power, but if Labor’s experience is anything to go by, his voters won’t forgive him for getting it.

(BBG) Wilders Defeat Is No Reason for Complacency

(BBG) Geert Wilders’ larger than expected defeat in Wednesday’s Dutch election sets up a disappointing year for nationalist populists, who only last year appeared to have centrist elites on the run.  But while it’s fine to celebrate Dutch good sense, it’s also useful to keep in mind that the problems that nearly handed Wilders a win are not going away.

A year ago, Wilders’ anti-immigrant, anti-European Union party, PVV, appeared poised to win a large plurality in the election despite having just one member (Wilders) and no local political offices or campaign machine. It was almost certain even then that Wilders wouldn’t get a chance to govern, since other big parties had refused to cooperate with him after a minority cabinet’s failed attempt to work with the PVV in 2011. His election victory, however, would have further energized fellow nationalists in France, Germany and Italy, already encouraged by Brexit and Donald Trump’s election.

Now that Wilders, according to exit polls, barely managed to win a tie for second place and only 19 seats in the 150-member parliament, that can hardly be held up as an inspiring example; being beaten by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a center-right politician known for his tendency to flip-flop, is a particular humiliation for the Dutch nationalist, one of the pioneers of the global nationalist movement.

From a practical rather than symbolic point of view, the Dutch parliament will have an almost two-thirds pro-EU majority. Given the Netherlands’ strong economic ties with the U.K., that’s a post-Brexit vote of confidence on the union and in Germany, the country’s biggest trading partner. Essentially, old centrist parties and the surging GreenLeft, propelled to a strong performance by its young, charismatic leader, Jesse Klaver, can simply ignore the minority that either wants the Netherlands out of the EU or demands major reforms of the bloc.

The high turnout that helped Rutte to victory shows that a populist threat can mobilize voters more or less happy with the status quo. It’s a good sign for the second round of the French presidential election in May.

Still, it’s useful to remember how Rutte won this election. This political chameleon successfully invaded Wilders’ territory by demanding that Muslim immigrants “act normal or leave.” He sealed his advantage by flying into battle with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who wanted the Netherlands to open its doors to his proxies campaigning ahead of an April referendum designed to hand Erdogan dictatorial powers. The unceremonious removal of one of the proxies, a female Turkish government minister, from Dutch territory was a Wilders-style move — only Rutte, unlike his populist rival, could actually make it because he had the executive power.

The new Dutch parliament will not have a pro-immigration or pro-immigrant majority. Anti-immigration sentiment runs deep in Dutch society; I saw it on a recent trip to cover the election campaign. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan protest, a chance wind in Wilders’ sails. A number of other parties, including Rutte’s VVD, are in favor of tighter immigration controls and a more demanding approach to integrating newcomers, which would make it harder for Middle Easterners and North Africans to keep their Muslim identity. Multiculturalism — or the uniquely Dutch version of it that cultivates indifference to how other distinct communities live — is out.

The pro-immigration Dutch left, and its boy wonder Klaver, is talking about making sure foreign-born people feel they’re part of society. That, too, requires more than the time-honored live-and-let-live approach. There’s a divide between lighter- and darker-skinned Dutch that needs a conscious effort to bridge, and while centrist and leftist forces can celebrate their collective victory over Wilders, they don’t agree on how to fix the underlying problem.  Immigrants themselves won’t help them much: They are not inclined to trust any politicians, even those from their own midst. That explains the poor showing of the immigrant-led DENK Party.

The worst thing that can happen is that the integration problem will be swept under the rug in the wake of the Wilders defeat. If so, in the next election cycle it may resurface in the form of a less extravagant and more electorally attractive far-right challenge. The right-wing intellectual Thierry Baudet, who only formed his party last September, managed to get into parliament on Wednesday; there’s a lot of room for universally acceptable politicians on that flank, and plays will be made for the space.

Brexit and Trump made many people worry that all rules are out the window and the populist wave is unstoppable. Continental Europe’s electoral systems, however, are designed to blunt radical challenges to level-headed leadership. The political fragmentation and the better representation it provides is in itself a powerful obstacle to the success of Wilders, Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France or the AfD in Germany. It’s an advantage the continental democracies have over the U.S. and the U.K., and it may be enough to protect the centrist status quo this year. But changing demographics in Europe means centrist politicians can’t count on it for many election cycles to come.  As a reminder, Wilders tweeted last night: “Rutte is not rid of me yet.”

It will take a clear new understanding of the EU’s functions and potential in order for pro-EU forces to keep winning. A lot will depend on how the EU handles Brexit: The Dutch may be turned away by a punitive approach on the bloc’s part and encouraged to consider the Nexit option if the U.K. does well initially as a standalone nation-state.

It will also take progress on integration — or consensus on tougher border policies — to take the immigration issue off the agenda for the next elections, not just in the Netherlands but throughout Europe. If none of this happens, not much stands between Europe and Trump-style upheavals.

(EurActiv) Turkey threatens EU on migrant deal as Erdogan blasts ‘spirit of fascism’

(EurActiv) Turkey on Wednesday (15 March) threatened once again to scrap a critical deal on halting the flow of migrants to the EU amid a spiralling war of words between Ankara and the bloc.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the “spirit of fascism” was running rampant in Europe, the latest in a series of incendiary verbal attacks that have left EU politicians aghast and sparked calls for moderation.

Turkey and the European Union have become embroiled in an explosive crisis after key EU members The Netherlands and Germany blocked Turkish ministers from holding rallies to back constitutional changes expanding Erdoğan’s powers in a 16 April referendum.

Erdoğan has repeatedly accused the two countries of behaving like “Nazis”, drawing a firm response from EU chief who on Wednesday blasted his comments as “detached from reality” and incompatible with Turkey’s ambitions to join the bloc.

Erdogan pledges to punish ‘Nazi remnant’ Netherlands ‘in harshest way’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Netherlands a ‘Nazi remnant’ and said the country should face sanctions for barring Turkish ministers from speaking in Rotterdam, fuelling a row over Ankara’s political campaigning abroad.

 

But far from stepping back, Erdoğan ratcheted his rhetoric up a further notch, comparing the treatment of non-Europeans in Europe to that of the Jews in World War II and pointing to the rise of far-right populist politicians on the continent.

“The spirit of fascism is running wild on the streets of Europe,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech.

“Europe is heading towards being drowned in its own fears,” the president added. “Turkophobia is mounting. Islamophobia is mounting. They are even scared of migrants who take shelter there.”

Merkel rejects Erdogan’s ‘absurd’ Nazi comparison, calls for calm

Germany rejected as “absurd” yesterday (6 March) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comparison of its ban on several rallies to the Nazi era, but it also stressed the importance of ties between the two NATO allies in an attempt to defuse an escalating war of words.

‘We can stop migrant deal’

Under the March 2016 migrant deal, Turkey agreed to tighten its maritime borders and also break up the people-smuggling networks that had helped migrants to make the risky crossing across the Aegean to Greece – the starting point of the trek to northern Europe.

But Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told 24 TV in an interview that Turkey was ready to walk away from the accord given the current crisis.

“We can stop it (the deal) unilaterally. We have not yet informed our (EU) counterparts, all of this is in our hands,” he said.

He lambasted the EU for failing to allow Turks visa-free travel in return, an incentive promised to Turkey if it fulfilled its side of the bargain.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was no longer implementing a key part of the deal, whereby it took back migrants who landed on the Greek islands as a deterrent.

“Right now we are not implementing the readmission agreement as there is no visa-free travel,” said Çavuşoğlu.

The deal has been praised for preventing a repeat of the surge of migrants seen into Europe in 2015 that fanned the popularity of the far-right.

Austria and Balkan states prepare for collapse of EU-Turkey deal

Austria said on Monday (7 November) it will meet with its Balkan neighbours to discuss what action they might take if a deal with Turkey aimed at restricting the flow of illegal migrants into the European Union collapses.

‘Ottoman slap’

Several top Twitter accounts – ranging from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund football club, tennis legend Boris Becker, Amnesty International, the French economy ministry and BBC North America – were defaced by pro-Turkey hackers with a message slamming “Nazi Germany” and “Nazi Holland”.

“#NaziGermany. #NaziHolland. This is a small #Ottomanslap for you. See you on #April16. I wrote what? Learn Turkish.”

The message also featured a swastika and was followed by a video showing extracts of Erdoğan speeches.

According to legend, an Ottoman slap was a barehanded technique used in the Ottoman army that was strong enough to kill an opponent on the spot.

Twitter confirmed the attack. There was no immediate claim for the current mass cyberattack.

Turkish author: ‘Turkey is at war with itself’

Turkish writer Hakan Günday told EURACTIV Spain that the ongoing dispute between Turkey and The Netherlands is a reflection of Ankara’s relationship with the EU in general and that the country has been “at war with itself for a long time”.

‘Outcome not so sure’

Turkey has suspended high-level relations with The Netherlands and blocked its ambassador – currently outside the country – from returning to his post.

Many in The Netherlands – a country bombed and occupied by the Nazis in World War II – were hugely offended by Erdoğan’s comment that the country still had “vestiges of the Nazis”.

Analysts believe Erdoğan is exploiting the crisis to bring out nationalist votes and ensure victory in the 16 April referendum on the new constitution that opponents fear will create one-man rule in Turkey.

Jean Marcou, professor at Sciences Po Grenoble in France, said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was deliberately playing up the row as it was “not so sure of the result on April 16.”

New Turkey reform could see Erdogan stay in power until 2029

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has approved a constitutional reform bill that would vastly strengthen the powers of his office and a referendum on the issue is likely on 16 April, officials said today (10 February).

Erdoğan Tuesday angered The Hague by bringing up the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, where Dutch UN peacekeepers failed to prevent the killing of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs.

On Wednesday he went further, accusing the Netherlands of massacring over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica.

“They have nothing to do with civilisation,” Erdoğan said in a new onslaught against the Netherlands. “They are the ones who massacred over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims.”

Erdoğan, whose country has for half a century tried to join the EU in an agonisingly slow process, said Europe after World War II claimed they “turned a new page for themselves and for the world” by forming the EU.

But he said: “They have emptied the European Union from inside with their attitude toward us.”

Erdogan angers Dutch with Srebrenica jibe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prompted a fresh outcry in The Netherlands yesterday (14 February) with a jibe about the Srebrenica massacre, warning of retaliation in a spiralling diplomatic crisis.

(ZH) What To Watch For As The Dutch Go To The Polls

(ZHDutch citizens will vote today for a new government in one of the most-watched elections in years. While polls have tilted towards PM Rutte’s VVD Party in recent days, the euroskeptic leader of the Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, looks set to gain the most seats but the necessary coalition will be anything but clean (since World War II, it’s taken an average of 72 days to form a government).

The timing of the vote results is as follows (via Bloomberg):

Polling stations across the Netherlands close at 9pm (4pm ET), and counting of the votes, which is done by hand, starts immediately. Polls will still be open for five more hours on three Dutch islands in the Caribbean — Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius — but they represent only a tiny fraction of the overall electorate of 12.7 million.

Ipsos is conducting one exit poll for broadcasters NOS and RTL, to be published just after 9pm (4pm ET) . The first version, which will estimate turnout and the distribution of seats, is based on responses up to 830pm (330pmET); it’s updated at 930pm (430pmET) with last-minute voters. It’s a big exercise: The pollsters expect to get about 38,000 respondents. By comparison, the 2015 exit poll in the U.K., a country with more than three times as many voters, had a sample of 20,000 respondents. Usually the exit poll is a pretty accurate prediction of the end result in the Netherlands. In 2012, it was a total of six seats off out of 150.

The total number of votes cast is divided by 150, the total number of seats, to determine the threshold for winning a seat. In 2012, it was 62,828. Then the cumulative total for each party is divided by the threshold to determine the number of seats it’s entitled to. The handful of seats left over are shared out according to a mathematical formula.

What will determine the next prime minister?

Basically, the ability to form coalitions. The Netherlands has so many political parties — a dozen hold seats in parliament — that no one party has ever won a majority on its own. Win or lose, this will pose a challenge to Wilders, since most other parties have ruled out a tie-up with his Freedom Party.

As MishTalk’s Mike Shedlock explains, this will get messy…

Political Party Explanation

  • VVD is the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. VVD is led by prime minister Mark Rutte.
  • PvdA is the Labour party. PvdA is in a current coalition with VVD.
  • PVV is Partij voor de Vrijheid, Geet Wilders’ annti-immigraton eurosceptic Party for Freedom.
  • SP is the Socialist party. SP is in opposition against the Second Rutte cabinet.
  • CDA is the Christian Democratic Appeal party. From 2010 to 2012 the CDA was a junior coalition partner in a right-wing minority cabinet with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), supported in parliament by the Party for Freedom (PVV).
  • D66 is the Democrats 66 party whose main objective is to democratize the political system. It seeks to create an American-style presidential system.
  • CU is the Christian Union. The CU holds socially conservative positions on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia. It is Eurosceptic while maintaining progressive stances on economic, immigration and environmental issues.
  • GL is the GroenLinks (green) party. GroenLinks describes itself as “green”, “social” and “tolerant”
  • SGP is the Reformed Political Party. The term Reformed is not a reference to political reform but is a synonym for Calvinism. The party favors the re-introduction of the death penalty in the Netherlands. They base this on the Bible, specifically on Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The SGP opposes feminism, and concludes, on Biblical grounds, that men and women are of equal value (gelijkwaardig) but not equal.
  • PvdD, Partij voor de Dieren, is the Party for the Animals. Among its main goals are animal rights and animal welfare, though it claims not to be a single-issue party. The party does consider itself to be a testimonial party, which does not seek to gain political power, but only to testify to its beliefs and thereby influence other parties.
  • 50+, 50 Plus, is a pensioners’ interests political party.

When do we get the final result?

Not until 4 p.m on March 21, when the the Dutch Electoral Council makes its formal announcement. But unless it’s really very close, the seat distribution shouldn’t change.

Coalition Math

  1. It takes 76 seats to form a coalition.
  2. All of the parties have ruled out entering a coalition that contains Geet Wilders’ PVV.
  3. Take away Wilders’ 24 PVV seats and another 14 seats from SP and it gets rather problematic coming up with 76 seats given the varying views.
  4. VVD+PvdA+D66+GL = 27+9+16+19=71
  5. VVD+PvdA+D66+CDA = 27+9+16+21=73

In regards to point number 3, is the CU or SGP likely to agree with the socially tolerant GL Green party?

At Least Four to Tango

In a  Bellwether to European Populism, Bloomberg reports that it will take at least 4 to tango.

A coalition of 5 looks even more likely, and if PVV hits the high 20s, I wonder if it takes a coalition of 6.

Don’t Hold Your Breath

“Since World War II, it’s taken an average of 72 days to form a government. The speed record, dating from 1958, is 10 days. But be warned: A total of 208 days were required in 1977 to establish a coalition that consisted of only two parties.”

(OBS) Rentes de Carvalho vota Geert Wilders. E explica porquê

(OBS) Em entrevista ao Observador, o escritor português que vive há mais de 60 anos na Holanda fala sobre as razões que o levam a apoiar o líder populista e as suas ideias sobre o Islão, a imigração e a UE

José Rentes de Carvalho, o escritor português que vive na Holanda há mais de 60 anos, já decidiu em quem vai votar esta quarta-feira, dia 15: no candidato populista Geert Wilders. Numa publicação no seu blogue, Tempo Contado, revelava a sua opção. O escritor afirmava partilhar algumas ideias do candidato de extrema-direita: a de “deportar os marroquinos que, na Holanda, encabeçam as estatísticas da criminalidade”; a de que a Holanda teria vantagem “em se separar da UE (o que não acontecerá)”; e a de que “deveriam ter fechado as fronteiras (o que está provado ser impossível )”.

Ao mesmo tempo, Rentes de Carvalho escreveu que discorda de Wilders “pela irrealidade das suas intenções, pelo seu autoritarismo, pela nada democrática prática de ter um partido em que se pode votar, mas não aceita filiados”. Ainda assim, assume que vai votar nele: “Dando-lhe o meu voto — o meu protesto — espero contribuir para que, alcançando um bom resultado eleitoral, ele tenha em mãos a possibilidade de fazer uma oposição construtiva”. Por email, José Rentes de Carvalho respondeu às perguntas do Observador sobre o porquê deste voto.

Escreveu no seu blogue que vai votar em Geert Wilders. Pedia-lhe que explicasse porquê, apesar de já ter dado algumas pistas no texto que publicou.
O motivo deste meu voto necessitaria de uma explicação demasiado longa e complexa, pois decorre de sessenta anos de vida numa sociedade a que pertenço, e cujos problemas partilho, mas não é aquela onde nasci. Essa situação particular, a de outsider inside, tem vantagens e desvantagens. Entre as vantagens de certeza conta a possibilidade de analisar os fenómenos sociais com um certo afastamento e independência, mantendo-me à distância de partidos políticos, grupos de interesse e correntes académicas, procurando, na medida do possível, ver claro naquilo que me rodeia.

Daí resulta que uma das conclusões a que chego é a de que os partidos políticos na Holanda não só têm deliberadamente ignorado ou adiado a resolução dos problemas da sociedade, como funcionam num ambiente de wishful thinking, esperando que, não lhes mexendo, os problemas acabem sempre por ter solução.

Vai o partido de Wilders resolver isso? Não vai. Contudo, se a sua posição for suficientemente forte, de certeza irá dando aos partidos no governo a possibilidade, ou os argumentos, de alguma mudança, o que eles, cautelosamente, têm vindo a fazer nos últimos meses.

 

Não teme eventuais consequências junto dos seus leitores habituais, por ter declarado esta intenção de voto? Pergunto isto porque Wilders é sobretudo associado a ideais como a islamofobia, nacionalismo, princípios de extrema-direita…
Temer eventuais consequências? Nunca isso me passaria pela cabeça. Nada tenho a ver com os meus leitores, não lhes devo coisa nenhuma, tão-pouco me interessa o seu favor ou desfavor, ou que eles suponham poder-me associar com Wilders, a islamofobia, a extrema-direita, o partido dos animais ou os vegetarianos. Não pertenço, não me associo, não tiro proveito. Sou livre e ajo com liberdade, nenhum interesse material, político, económico, social ou outro tem poder para coartar a minha liberdade.

Claro que sofro as consequências e sei o preço dessa liberdade. O não ter cantado loas ao 25 de Abril, paguei-o com quarenta anos de desdém e ostracismo. De nada contou ser na Holanda um escritorbestseller, um jornalista respeitado, um docente universitário de boa fama, um sujeito estimado. Em vez de dizer que nem as moscas nem o excremento tinham mudado, teria sido proveitoso entrar no coro e gritar que, finalmente, o sol brilhava para todos, até para os deserdados.

“Geert Wilders tem dito, e repetiu-o no tribunal, que, sendo governo, deportaria todos os marroquinos com cadastro criminal.”

Se houvesse um candidato ou uma candidata semelhante numas eleições portuguesas, votaria nele ou nela? Ou a sua escolha seria diferente porque são países diferentes?
Não votaria. Mas o problema não se põe. As duas sociedades não se comparam. Os atritos que se dão na Holanda têm um potencial explosivo impensável no contexto português. Quando os turcos, dias atrás, em Roterdão e Amesterdão, depois do incidente com a diplomata, saíram à rua em multidão empunhando centenas de bandeiras turcas, um pequeno nada teria sido suficiente para fazer explodir o ressentimento e o ódio latente em ambas as partes.

Diz que apoia a ideia da “deportação de marroquinos” defendida por Geert Wilders, porque “encabeçam as estatísticas da criminalidade”. Mas essa é uma ideia que parece dizer que todos os marroquinos são criminosos, não? Não é uma generalização perigosa e injusta?
Não há generalização. Wilders tem dito, e repetiu-o no tribunal, que, sendo governo, deportaria todos os marroquinos com cadastro criminal.

Desislamizar a Holanda é um dos princípios de Geert Wilders e isso inclui encerrar escolas islâmicas e mesquitas, proibir o Corão… Não são atentados à liberdade?
Pode ser que sim. Mas o que é proibir a celebração do Natal? Retirar os crucifixos das escolas? Ditar o traje feminino?

 

Ao mesmo tempo, discorda de Wilders pela “irrealidade das suas intenções”. Que intenções irreais são essas?
Mesmo sendo governo nunca seria possível o que ele denomina desislamizar a Holanda, pois não vejo como poderia proibir a crença, os ritos e a maneira de viver de um milhão ou mais de pessoas. Do mesmo modo é ilusório querer encerrar as escolas ou proibir o Corão. Quer aos holandeses agrade ou desagrade, facto é que o Islão e os muçulmanos já fazem parte da estrutura social.

A politóloga holandesa Saskia Bonjour dizia há poucos diasem entrevista ao Observador: “Ao contrário de Donald Trump, que sempre quis governar e que agora vemos que está a aplicar um programa que assentava em questões económicas e de imigração, Geert Wilders não parece estar verdadeiramente disposto a governar. Ninguém sabe ao certo o que é que ele quer para a economia, para a saúde ou para a segurança social. Ele só fala dos muçulmanos.”
Essa afirmação é inexata. Wilders não fala apenas dos muçulmanos. Defende a saída da Europa, a reestruturação da segurança social e do caríssimo sistema da saúde. Pode ser que a politóloga não leia os jornais, nem se dê suficientemente conta da sociedade à sua volta.

É esta a ideia que também tem, que Geert Wilders não estará disposto a governar? Então, qual será a verdadeira intenção?
Ele pode ter os votos, mas não tem assessores, candidatos para lugares governamentais ou quadros. Verdadeira não sei, mas uma possível intenção é a de tornar difícil a política governamental, fazer a modos de uma guerrilha.

“Eu não defendo o fecho das fronteiras, simplesmente constato que, abertas ou fechadas, as fronteiras de modo nenhum impedem as vagas de refugiados.”

Fala também da “autoridade” do candidato como uma coisa negativa. Escreve que este seu voto será um voto de protesto e que acredita numa oposição construtiva de Geert Wilders. Mas, se Wilders chegar ao poder, essa autoridade não corre o risco de se tornar ainda mais perigosa? Um voto de protesto não pode ter outras consequências inesperadas?
O carácter autoritário não o abona e é um obstáculo ao seu funcionamento numa coligação, mas se de qualquer modo a sua atividade se tornasse perigosa para as instituições, a sociedade holandesa é suficientemente sólida e excelentemente estruturada para que a um indivíduo seja dada a possibilidade de a desestabilizar.

Defende a ideia de fecho de fronteiras. Porquê?
Eu não defendo o fecho das fronteiras, simplesmente constato que, abertas ou fechadas, as fronteiras de modo nenhum impedem as vagas de refugiados. E por vezes pergunto-me se o desleixo em tomar medidas preventivas não será menos acidental do que nos fazem crer. Porque afinal a Europa precisa de juventude, de trabalho barato…

Wilders tem estado, desde há mais de dez anos, sob escolta, devido a ameaças de morte. Muitos acusam-no de, por isso mesmo, viver à parte daquilo que acontece na sociedade holandesa. Isto não o assusta?
O ter segurança permanente por certo não o impede de estar ao corrente do que se passa. As suas intervenções no parlamento e as entrevistas dão mostra de que se mantém bem informado do dia-a-dia do país.

 

Como cidadão com dupla nacionalidade a viver na Holanda, não teme que eventualmente políticas anti imigração o possam atingir?
Desculpe que lho diga, mas a sua pergunta denota irrealidade. Com Wilders a governar, a Holanda é bem capaz de decidir pela deportação de criminosos, e eu não me incluo na categoria. Fora essa improvável situação, a Holanda não vai deportar ninguém.

“Se o Presidente Trump mantiver o financiamento da NATO e se mostre compincha com o presidente Putin, durmo descansado.”

O que quer dizer com “vinte e tal anos de governos tão politicamente corretos” na Holanda? Que “correção política” é esta de que fala?
Não me diga que ignora o significado da expressão, mas vou fingir que sim: as substanciais ajudas a países subdesenvolvidos que resultam no financiamento da corrupção; o extraordinário interesse pelo aquecimento do planeta, as energias limpas, a poluição, raro dando oportunidade a que se façam ouvir os que defendem outros pontos de vista.

Vê semelhanças entre as políticas propostas por Geert Wilders e as de Donald Trump? E, já agora, o que lhe parece a nova administração americana?
Não estou suficientemente ao corrente, mas, para lhe ser franco, de momento a América está um bocadinho fora dos meus interesses. Contudo, se o Presidente Trump mantiver o financiamento da NATO e se mostre compincha com o presidente Putin, durmo descansado.

(Reuters) Turkey targets Dutch with diplomatic sanctions as ‘Nazi’ row escalates

(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.

“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,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told a news conference after a cabinet meeting. “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.

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, foreign ministry sources said.

DOGS, WATER CANNON

On Sunday, Dutch police used dogs and water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some protesters threw bottles and stones and several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a Reuters witness said. Mounted police officers charged the crowd.

“The Turkish community and our citizens were subject to bad treatment, with inhumane and humiliating methods used in disproportionate intervention against people exercising their right to peaceful assembly,” a statement attributed to ministry sources said.

The Dutch government barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam on Saturday and later stopped Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate there, before escorting her back to Germany.

Protests then erupted in Turkey and the Netherlands.

Several European countries have stopped Turkish politicians holding rallies, due to fears that tensions in Turkey might spill over into their expatriate communities.

Some 400,000 Turkish citizens live in the Netherlands and an estimated 1.5 million Turkish voters live in Germany.

On Monday evening Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said he would try to prohibit Turkish ministers from campaigning in his country too for “reasons of public security”.

The Dutch government said the visits were untimely ahead of a national election on Wednesday, in which polls suggest it may lose about half its seats due to expected big gains by the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders.

Monday was the third time the Dutch envoy had been called in since Saturday over the row. The Dutch ambassador is on leave and the Turkish foreign ministry says it does not want him back “for some time”.

The European Union’s executive arm said on Monday that the bloc would assess Turkey’s planned constitutional changes in light of the country’s status as a candidate EU membership, and called on Ankara to refrain from statements and actions that could further fuel the diplomatic row.

SANCTIONS

Dutch direct investment in Turkey amounts to $22 billion, making the Netherlands the biggest source of foreign investment with a share of 16 percent.

Ozgur Altug, chief economist at BGC Partners in Istanbul, said at this stage he did not foresee the row having serious short-term economic consequences.

“However, if the tension escalates and if countries start imposing sanctions against each other, it might have serious implications for the Turkish economy,” he said.

Turkish exports to the Netherlands totaled $3.6 billion in 2016, making it the tenth largest market for Turkish goods, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. Turkey imported $3 billion worth of Dutch goods in 2016.

Dutch visitors are important to Turkey’s tourism industry, which was hit hard in 2016 by security fears due to attacks by Islamic State and Kurdish militants. Some 900,000 Dutch people visited Turkey last year, down from 1.2 million a year earlier.

Ankara is seeking an official written apology for the treatment of its family minister and diplomats in Rotterdam, the Turkish foreign ministry sources also said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said it is Erdogan who should apologize for comparing the Netherlands to fascists and Nazis, adding that Turkey was acting “in a totally unacceptable, irresponsible manner”.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Turkey and the Netherlands to defuse the row.

At the weekend, Erdogan dubbed the Netherlands “Nazi remnants” and said “Nazism is still widespread in the West”, comments echoed in Turkish media on Monday.

“Nazi Dogs,” said a front-page headline incorporating a swastika in the pro-government Aksam newspaper, above a photo of a police dog biting the thigh of a man during Saturday night’s protest in Rotterdam.

(BBC) Turkey-Netherlands row: Dutch warn citizens after Erdogan threat

(BBC)

This picture taken in Istanbul on March 13, 2017 shows a man selecting a newspaper bearing a headline concerning diplomatic tensions between Turkey and The Netherlands, which translates as ""Dogs of Europe" in Istanbul on March 13, 2017Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionOne Turkish newspaper referred to the Dutch on Monday as the “dogs of Europe”

The Netherlands has warned its citizens over travel to Turkey as a row between the countries shows no sign of abating.

Turkish attempts to hold rallies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands have been blocked.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed retaliation, saying: “Nazism is still widespread in the West”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the comments as unacceptable and offered the Netherlands her “full support and solidarity”.

On Monday, the Dutch foreign ministry issued a new travel warning, urging its citizens in Turkey to take care and noting the new “diplomatic tensions”.

The warning to “avoid gatherings and crowded places” came as Turkey’s foreign ministry lodged a formal protest with the Dutch envoy.

Meanwhile, the Dutch deputy prime minister, Lodewijk Asscher, said that “to be called Nazis by a regime which is walking backwards in regards to human rights is just disgusting”.

The row spilled over into the campaign for Wednesday’s general election in the Netherlands, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte defending in a live TV debate his decision to stop Turkish ministers addressing Dutch Turks.

His opponent, Geert Wilders of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party, said the real problem was that Turks waving Turkish flags on a Dutch street had shown where their loyalties lay.

European Union leaders called for calm.

“It is essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation,” said a joint statement by foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen, in Istanbul, says that Turkey and the Netherlands, two Nato allies, are now locked in an “unprecedented diplomatic crisis”.

How did the row come about?

Media captionA look at how tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands unfolded

The proposed rallies aimed to encourage a large number of Turks living in Europe to vote Yes in a referendum on 16 April on expanding the president’s powers. The planswere criticised by senior EU officials on Monday.

In Germany, for example, there are more than three million people of Turkish origin, of whom an estimated 1.4 million are eligible to vote in Turkish elections. In effect, the diaspora is Turkey’s fourth-largest electoral district.

Planned rallies in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were blocked after officials cited security concerns or said the rallies could stoke tensions.

A gathering in France went ahead, however, after officials said it did not pose a threat.

Two Turkish ministers were barred from addressing rallies in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, with one of them escorted to the German border.

Police used dogs and water cannon against protesters waving Turkish flags in Rotterdam.

How did Turkey respond?

Media captionPresident Erdogan makes Nazi Germany taunt

Mr Erdogan likened the Netherlands to “a banana republic”, demanded international organisations impose sanctions on the Netherlands, and accused countries in the West of “Islamophobia”.

“I have said that I had thought that Nazism was over, but I was wrong,” he said.

He later lashed out at the German chancellor.

“Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country? Why are you not doing anything?” he said, in comments quoted by AFP. “Mrs Merkel, you are supporting terrorists.”

Turkey has previously accused Germany of harbouring Kurdish militants and suspects wanted over the failed coup attempt of 15 July last year.

Turkey’s EU affairs minister, Omer Celik, said Ankara would retaliate against the Netherlands. He later suggested reconsidering part of a deal with the EU aimed at curbing an influx of migrants, namely Turkey’s efforts to prevent them crossing by land to Greece and Bulgaria.

On Monday morning, the Dutch charge d’affaires in Ankara was summoned for the third time in three days in protest against the treatment of the minister escorted to Germany and the treatment of protesters in Rotterdam.

What did European countries say?

Mr Rutte said Mr Erdogan’s comment that the Dutch were “Nazi remnants” was “unacceptable”, and demanded an apology.

Responding to Turkish calls for sanctions, he said the Netherlands would “never negotiate under threat”.

In a news conference on Monday, Mrs Merkel said she had condemned Nazi analogies made by Mr Erdogan about Germany the previous week.

“This rejection is also valid for our allies. These comparisons are completely misguided… particularly in the Netherlands that endured so much agony through the National Socialists,” she said.

“That’s why the Netherlands can count on my complete support and solidarity in this.”

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he had postponed a meeting later this month with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim because “with the current Turkish attacks on Holland the meeting cannot be seen separated from that”.

+++ V.I. (JN) Missões diplomáticas holandesas na Turquia encerradas por segurança

(JNA embaixada e o consulado holandeses em Ancara foram encerradas pelas autoridades turcas por “razões de segurança”, anunciaram fontes do Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros turco.

“As entradas e saídas da embaixada e do consulado em Ancara foram encerradas por razões de segurança”, indicaram fontes do Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros da Turquia. De acordo com as mesmas fontes, as residências do embaixador e do chefe do consulado da Holanda na capital turca, foram também encerradas pelas mesmas razões.

A decisão das autoridades turcas surge na sequência do Governo holandês ter anunciado que iria recusar a entrada, na Holanda, do ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros turco, Mevlut Cavusoglu, para um encontro, com a comunidade turca local, com o objectivo de conquistar apoios para um referendo sobre o aumento dos poderes do Presidente do país, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A proibição enfureceu a Turquia, e Erdogan declarou que a decisão das autoridades holandesas contém “vestígios nazis”.

Na mesma linha, as autoridades turcas avisaram a Holanda para que o embaixador holandês em Ancara, actualmente fora do país, em férias, não regresse “durante algum tempo” para retomar a sua actividade.

Ministra turca bloqueada

Além da recusa em deixar Cavusoglu entrar na Holana, a caravana automóvel onde seguia a ministra dos Assuntos Familiares turca foi bloqueada pela polícia holandesa quando se dirigia para o consulado da Turquia em Roterdão para participar no comício sobre o referendo convocado por Ancara.

Em imagens transmitidas nos ‘media’ holandeses, dezenas de polícias impediram a ministra Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya de se dirigir à rua de Roterdão onde está situado o consulado do seu país, após o presidente da câmara da cidade, Ahmed Aboutaleb, ter ordenado o bloqueio total a essa zona.

Em declarações à televisão privada turca, Haber Canli, a ministra turca referiu-se a uma “situação verdadeiramente incrível”.