The Netherlands government picks a diplomatic fight with Turkey

It looks as if the strong polling of Mr Wilders and the PVV in the Netherlands has worried the government led by the VVD. They have recently denied access for Turkish Ministers to their country on the grounds that their visits would be inflammatory.  The Foreign Minister was stopped from coming and the Family Minister was ushered out of the country. Turkey is of course a NATO ally and has recently agreed a comprehensive and close Association Agreement with the EU. This Agreement includes the free movement of people from Turkey to EU Schengen countries which include the Netherlands.

It will be interesting to see tomorrow if the idea of acting in this manner serves to reassure those otherwise thinking of voting for Mr Wilders and the PVV, or whether it simply highlights Mr Wilders agenda in a way which helps him. Turkey is angry about the actions of Mr Rutte and his VVD party, and have asked the Netherlands Ambassador to remain out of Turkey. Meanwhile protests about this in the Netherlands have led to the use of water cannon and ugly street scenes.

None of this is good news for the EU/Turkey relationship, and brings the whole issue of the EU/Turkey Association Agreement back into contention. Many voters in the Netherlands have been worried about these Association Agreements, but so far the Dutch government of Mr Rutte has gone along with them at EU level, so they do apply to whole EU Schengen area including the Netherlands. This row may serve to remind unhappy voters about these developments.

It does not look as if Mr Wilders can win enough seats to be part of a future Dutch government, but if he wins more seats than any other party it will add to the stresses and strains on the ruling coalition which emerges from the election.


  1. Lifelogic
    March 14, 2017

    Certainly looks like the PVV/Party for Freedom will probably win the largest number of seats. The betting odds seem to be about 4:6, probably worth a punt even at those odds.

    Clearly as you say none of this is good news for the EU/Turkey relationship, but then perhaps it will concentrate the EU bureaucrat’s mind on providing a sensible solution. Then again this would clearly be a first for them.

    Meanwhile we have Sturgeon (what on earth to the Scots see in her?). The Scottish people I meet mainly round London seem far too sensible to fall for her bonkers lefty break the union at all costs policies, but then they are the ones who have left.

    Why are we delaying further on the section 50 notice? The delay probably costs the UK about £50 million a day Theresa. Then again the delay in failing to set a proper small state, low tax, cheap energy, bonfire of red tax, real Conservative agenda is costing even more. Stop the endless dithering.

  2. Lifelogic
    March 14, 2017

    With the pound rather low and the government’s huge (and still growing) debt, surely the best solution is to switch the public debt to other devaluing currencies like the EURO. Then Theresa May can do a volte-face to become a proper Conservative. Then set a sensible agenda for the economy and go for a sound & strong Swiss style pound.

    Then we watch as the debt rapidly declines in Stirling terms. The problem is how can the Socialist Theresa be made to understand what is good for the economy when in 60 years she has not worked it out? Force her to listen to endless tapes Milton Freedman perhaps?

    1. Lifelogic
      March 14, 2017

      or even Milton Friedman.

  3. Mark B
    March 14, 2017

    Good morning.

    And sorry for the slightly longer post than usual.

    A good piece today. Trouble is, there is far more to this than our kind host is telling. I can understand that saying things whilst being part of a party that is in government, could embarrass and drag the UK into this rather silly matter. But I and many here are not 🙂

    The Turkish politicians were asked by the Dutch government not to enter their country. They wanted to enter to speak to, and campaign for, changes in the Turkish constitution that would give, Erdogan more powers. They chose to ignore this and the Dutch government was put in a difficult position. Do they allow them in regardless or, stop them ? They chose the latter as to choose the former would have given, Wilders more ammo. The Turks could have swerved this one but chose to use it for their own ends and are now threatening all measures, including sanctions.

    The rioting was done by Turkish citizens, many waving the Turkish flag. It is clear to me that this how things is designed to stir up real Nationalism and boost Erdogan’s chances.

    There were many bans on Turkish rallies in Switzerland and Austria.

    “Around 400,000 people in the Netherlands hold dual Turkish and Dutch citizenship.” source, Breitbart London

    And in a small country like Holland of around 17 million people, that’s a lot !

    I hope Wilders wins, even if he does not get a majority. Why ? Because like BREXIT and President Trump, we the ‘little people’ are beginning to fight back and, this will open a Pandora’s Box on the whole continent and the EU.

    Slightly off topic.

    The one thing pro-EU people keep telling us is; “That we are stronger together !” I wounder if the rest of the 27 rally round the Netherlands if Erdogan does impose trade sanctions ? If Turkey does, then surely the EU must retaliate. After all, it has just extended the time over which trade sanction are to be maintained against Russia ! And Russia has not threatened to open its borders to mass waves of illegal immigrants like Turkey has.

    Wilders, like any politician, reflects the mood and the politics of the country they serve. If the country and the people are unhappy, we the people can remove them. It is the basis on what I, and I am sure many others here and elsewhere, voted to leave the EU. Wilders is reflecting this view and so too are many others.

    1. Mark B
      March 14, 2017

      Wow ! I did not need to do a Captcha thingy this time

      Cheers Mr.Redwood MP sir.


  4. Sir Joe Soap
    March 14, 2017

    Close Association Agreement but no visits allowed please.
    Perhaps Mr Van Leuwen can explain that?

  5. agricola
    March 14, 2017

    It is what you get when your political eyes are bigger than your belly. Mr Wilders arrival on the scene is symptomatic of one populations unrest with the way their political leaders are trying to take them. There are examples all over the EU, exacerbated by the myopia of political leadership within the EU. The problem of this disconnect with the people is the uncertainty of what you might get to replace it. We are in a sense lucky in that our relationship with democracy is of many hundreds of years. In much of Europe it is only decades, which I think could make them prone to radical instant fixes, that they later live to regret.

    1. agricola
      March 15, 2017

      Well I know you are aware of what I think even if you wish to hide it from everyone else.

      1. agricola
        March 15, 2017

        I do not quite understand the point you are making in publishing my follow up sentence ,but failing to publish the not very contentious original short piece. Very odd.

  6. Julien Tabulazero
    March 14, 2017

    Dear Sir,

    Your sudden concerns regarding the state of EU/Turkish relationship is touching. May I ask what is the reason for this ?

    You are leaving after all.

    Best regards

    1. Roy Grainger
      March 14, 2017

      Well plenty of people in Europe and the European Parliament seem to be interested in President Trump’s immigration rules even though they are not part of the USA, so why is this different ?

      1. Jerry
        March 15, 2017

        @Roy Grainger; Indeed but then ‘two wrongs do not make a right’, as they say….

    2. Anonymous
      March 14, 2017

      Julien Tabulazero – In Britain we voted to Leave the EU over 9 months ago. We are still in it, ruled by it and continuing with mass freedom of movement from it.

      In many ways we are still fighting the referendum here. Remainers are being very obstructive, you see.

      The EU will have probably broken up before we leave.

    3. Jumeirah
      March 15, 2017

      Netherlands/ Turkey: Well said Julien. We are leaving therefore what business is it of ours? Concentrate our minds on Great Britain.

    4. margaret
      March 15, 2017

      Leaving the EU doesn’t mean we care less about Europe Julien ,on the contrary we care a lot and think we can establish relationships which will be better to all if we were allowed more freedom.

  7. formula57
    March 14, 2017

    A timely lesson in how EU countries treat others, even when others are supposed allies.

    The Dutch government is presumably untroubled by voter concerns, being content to ignore their repudiation by referendum vote of the EU’s Ukraine deal.

  8. Horatio McSherry
    March 14, 2017

    Morning John,

    I’m glad to see you highlighting these escalating problems and the ultimate effects of the Progressives’ policies and virtue signalling. The progressives’ MO of insulting anyone who disagrees is finally coming back to bite them: they now have to admit Wilders is right, or allow their country to be embroiled in some very unseemly events.

    This episode and ones that have preceded it have been under-reported on the main news channels (obviously). This one should have been the final nail in the coffin for Turkey joining the EU, but it isn’t because the Commission keep hiding the nails. They won’t learn until Turkey comes to eat them, at which point they’ll run away and demand the UK and US come save them…again.

    This also why it’s stupidly short-sighted to keep baiting the Russians.

  9. hefner
    March 14, 2017

    Given the date of 16 April for this Turkey referendum, why have the Turkish authorities not thought that sending their Ministers to the Netherlands a few days before the Dutch elections on 15 March would create problems?
    Couldn’t they have waited a few days after the Dutch elections?
    Another example of hare-brained politicians thinking themselves being so clever?

    1. acorn
      March 14, 2017

      There should be a UN ruling that you can’t conduct political campaigns outside of the nation state concerned. The EU is not a nation state, the Netherlands is. Diaspora exist in foreign countries for a reason, none of them good. If you can’t physically put a ballot paper, in a real ballot box, with your feet on the soil of the nation you are a citizen of, then you don’t deserve a vote.

    2. Simon Platt
      March 14, 2017

      I suppose that the Turkish authorities have indeed considered that sending their Ministers to the Netherlands a few days before the Dutch elections on 15 March would create problems, and that they have considered that trouble welcome insofar as it benefits, as I suppose, the Dutch Foreigners’ Party.

      1. hefner
        March 15, 2017

        “Dutch Foreigners’ Party”? Sorry, what do you refer to?

        1. rose
          March 16, 2017

          Denk, a new party founded for immigrants. It has already split over homosexuality.

          1. rose
            March 16, 2017

            “Denk” is Dutch for “think” and Turkish for “equality”. It was founded by Dutch Turks leaving the Labour Party.

          2. rose
            March 16, 2017

            They won three seats. A remarkable result. How much was this because of Mr Rutte’s illiberal behaviour?

  10. Internal Talisman
    March 14, 2017

    Migrants can form a nation withing a nation. The Romans knew this and boated people in and out of areas. They realised, because of their then superior Roman IQ and being drug-free, that that is how people behave. You can count on people migrating with their own flag intact in their political DNA.

  11. rose
    March 14, 2017

    To be expected: the BBC fake news is covering up this EU moslem travel ban. They are just saying the Turkish ministers were barred from attending rallies, not that the Foreign Minister was prevented from landing and that the Families Minister, a woman, was prevented from reaching the Turkish Consulate and then deported by armed men.

    As so often with the BBC, one is left wondering, if they have a case to make, why don’t they do it honestly and factually? Better still, why make a case at all; why not just report what happened and let us make up our own minds?

    Instead, they are now telling us how brilliantly Mr Rutte has handled things, cracking down on Islamisation, and securing favourable treatment by the electorate. In fact he has humiliated and alienated a key NATO ally, one which, unlike the EU, takes defence seriously and has a proper army, and one who is helping us with the illegal immigration problem. A country which, unlike the EU, keeps to agreements made. In this dubious stance Mr Rutte is being backed up by the EU and other EU countries. Not for the first time one is left thinking this is a dangerous organisation, run by blinkered and immature people who have no understanding of the real world.

    1. rose
      March 14, 2017

      The EU has gone out of its way to insult the US President, repeatedly poke the Russian Bear with a stick, and now publicly humiliate and insult its proudest and most patriotic ally. All this in the context of most of them refusing to pay their way in NATO, and with dark clouds forming.

      How stupid can they get? And still they affect a morally superior postion.

  12. alan jutson
    March 14, 2017

    Chaos and muddled thinking within the EU as usual, cannot wait to be out of it.

  13. MickN
    March 14, 2017

    O/T Mrs May must write that letter TODAY! The Miller woman is already planning further legal challenges it seems. Time to get on with it before we are forced into a further wait for the judges.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 14, 2017

      Miller is rapidly becoming another BBC “favourite” called in to say something daft on other topics too. Rather like Sturgeon who is hardly ever out of TV studios taking the usual drivel.

      Question Time and Any Questions rarely have more than 1 Brexit supporter on the panel against the 3 or 4 remainers – plus the chair of course whose view are usually very clear from his line of questioning.

      A Heath has it right today as usual.

    2. Iago
      March 14, 2017

      No, we can’t send the letter today. That might give a boost to that nasty man Geert Wilders (who, in addition to being nasty, wants to take Holland out of the EU) in the Dutch general election tomorrow and we can’t have that, can we?

    3. David Price
      March 15, 2017

      From the second attempt doesn’t this sort of act become classed as vexatious litigation?

      1. Simon
        March 15, 2017

        To become a vexatious litigant you normally need to lose multiple cases. Not win them !

  14. Remoaning Sour
    March 14, 2017

    There are one or two Remoaners who are unaware of the Leave vote, the House of Commons vote x 2 and the House of Lords vote x 2 . They are busy arguing on TV against the Single Market, against leaving the Customs Union and against leaving the EU, publicy urging Mrs May “not to do it”.
    There should be standards of education for prospective MPs and an ongoing assessment to ascertain whether there have been deteriorations in their mental agilities. Not to mumble a sour note.

  15. sm
    March 14, 2017

    I have yet to see anyone consider whether President Erdogan would permit Dutch, German or Austrian politicians to hold rallies with their nationals resident in Turkey.

    1. getahead
      March 14, 2017


  16. alan jutson
    March 14, 2017

    off topic

    Given the Government have now got exactly the terms they required on Article 50, I hope the letter will now go in quickly, so that we do not give anyone else chance of taking out yet another Court action, in the so called name of democracy.

  17. Antisthenes
    March 14, 2017

    As much as unfettered free movement of people from anywhere to anywhere is desirable it is not at this time practical. It creates social strains and demands on resources beyond the capacity to meet them and some immigrant groups pose existential threats to the indigenous population. That does not mean that immigration should be stopped but it should be tightly controlled.

    An obvious fact that so many especially amongst the ruling classes either fail to recognise or acknowledge. Hence the rise of political parties who do, like Wilders’s. Who are labelled racist, xenophobic, nationalist and extreme. To some extent that is true but it should be recognised that the so called liberals/progressives by their incompetent and sometimes for selfish gain handling of immigration have pushed many to embrace them. Ordinary decent people who are generally tolerant and charitable but baulk at that tolerance and charity being a one way street.

    The established parties instead of addressing the peoples concerns about immigration belittle those concerns until their grip on power is threatened. Such it appears is the case in Holland the governing party is attempting to prove that it shares the concerns of their people by attacking Turkey. An empty gesture of course meant to deflect attention away from the real problems already present from years of too many immigrants arriving exacerbated by the open door policy of Merkel. Until a coherent and practical border policy that only allows in those in that can be equitably absorbed and deals with those many already in is established then the people are going to turn anti-immigration parties.

  18. Mitchel
    March 14, 2017

    Is it still the Conservative Party’s official view that Turkey should be allowed/encouraged to join the EU?

    1. hefner
      March 14, 2017

      I guess so. On 14 November 2016, Boris Johnson was advising the EU to be soft on Turkey. And much before that the UK had always been for the enlargement of the EU including Turkey as it is a member of NATO with the view of increasing the “market” and diluting the weight of the “big countries”. But British being “pragmatic”, they will always turn, weather-vane wise, in the direction of the prevailing wind. Thus the PM’s haste to meet our special relation beyond the pond.
      And the usual “thinkers” to turn and justify the more recent U-turn. It would be funny if it were not so serious and bearer of potential consequences.

  19. Denis Cooper
    March 14, 2017

    Well, in February 2009 Jacqui Smith refused to allow Geert Wilders into the UK:

    “Far-right Dutch MP refused entry to UK”

    So we have to be a bit careful what we say about this.

    Fortunately we have now moved to a more liberal policy, where we not only allow a French presidential candidate to campaign in London but warmly welcome him into 10 Downing Street, and then let him stand outside the front door and announce to the media how he intends to do us down after we have left the EU …

    1. Bob
      March 14, 2017

      @Dennis Cooper

      “we not only allow a French presidential candidate to campaign in London but warmly welcome him into 10 Downing Street, and then let him stand outside the front door and announce to the media how he intends to do us down”

      speaks volumes about our political class.

      1. Mark B
        March 15, 2017

        This is what 40 years of political brainwashing does to you.

  20. Denis Cooper
    March 14, 2017

    Off-topic, we should pay serious attention to this warning from Polly Toynbee:

    “The Brexit fanatics are at the helm, but don’t despair – this is not over”

    “The future seems bleak but with EU negotiations and a great reform bill still to come, there are many pitfalls for a reckless prime minister”

    “Don’t imagine it’s all over. It’s hardly begun … ”

    Which echoes a threat uttered by Lord Pannick last night, at Column 1728:

    “… this is only the beginning of the process of withdrawal from the EU … A much more complex Bill is going to be brought forward in the next Session to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 in order to maintain rights and duties that owe their origin to EU law … The Government are on notice that this House will be scrutinising that Bill with especial care … This is just the start of the debate … “.

    This is why the government should draw the teeth of the House of Lords by cutting the maximum period for which they can delay any public Bill from about one year to just one month, as is already the case for Money Bills. That would be a simple amendment to the Parliament Acts which could if necessary be forced upon the Lords using those Acts – that was how the post-war Labour government cut it from two years to just one – but the Bill to accomplish that should be introduced straight away.

    1. getahead
      March 14, 2017

      One week?

  21. lojolondon
    March 14, 2017

    Exactly right John – when Wilders wins the most seats but does not get to form a government (remember how Labour wanted a coalition with the LibDems) – that is not bad – just the way their constitution works. But it will explicitly expose the fact that the Dutch Government – like most European Governments – does not represent the views of their voters.

  22. Stephen Almond
    March 14, 2017

    A strange old world.
    Donald Trump is vilified in the media for refusing entry into the US for people from mainly muslim countries.

    The EU bribes a third country (Turkey) to take its muslim immigrants. Media, apparently, quite happy with that situation.

    1. Mitchel
      March 15, 2017

      It would appear the EU is now doing the same with Libya – with 200m euros recently going to the “Government of National Accord” there for this purpose despite it being a government in name only.Heaven knows where that money will actually end up.

  23. APL
    March 14, 2017

    JR: “They have recently denied access for Turkish Ministers to their country on the grounds that their visits would be inflammatory.”

    How about the better grounds that a democracy can only exist in a country that has a homogeneous demos, as such Netherlands is not a constituency of Turkey. Turks who live in the Netherlands and wish to influence Turkish politics are demonstrating that they are not Dutchmen or Women.

  24. Denis Cooper
    March 14, 2017


    “Theresa May has no chance of securing UK-EU trade deal within 2 years, says former EU chief”

    Just a reminder that the former EU chief in question was the one once described as “UKIP’s best friend”, as her call for a United States of Europe was expected to be very helpful to EU opponents in the EU Parliament elections later in the year:

    Still, she may well be right that it will take more than two years to finalise all the details, but as long as there’s a workable agreement when we leave that will not be a big problem.

    Meanwhile, if it will take so long to sort out the separation of the UK from the EU after just 40-odd years, how long would it take to sort out the separation of Scotland from the UK after 300-odd years? Salmond said 18 months, others said that was grossly optimistic; but in any case it’s obvious that Sturgeon could barely hope to avoid the dreaded “hard Brexit” even if there was a second independence referendum tomorrow, let alone in the autumn of 2018 or the spring of 2019:

    “Scotland will leave EU even if votes for independence soon, UK government says”

    Because the rest of us are certainly not going to hang around in the EU for years while the people in Scotland have another go at deciding whether they want to be independent from the UK and if so then sorting out their new arrangements; they will come out of the EU with rest of us, and so then like the rest of us they can find out whether there is any substance to all the dire predictions from the likes of the SNP.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 14, 2017

      A good article by Andrew Lilico here:

      “Yes, let’s have a second Scottish independence referendum – after Brexit”

      He suggests 2022, but I’m thinking 2024 – ten years after the first one, and about five years after the UK including Scotland will have left the EU. By then it should be fairly clear whether Brexit has been the catastrophe predicted by the SNP.

      Theresa May could even take the wind out of Nicola Sturgeon’s sails by offering to get the Section 30 Order passed by the UK Parliament straight away, granting the Scottish Parliament the legal power to hold another referendum in 2024.

      That is if they still wanted one, which they might not given that the next elections to the Scottish Parliament are scheduled for May 2021.

      1. Mark B
        March 15, 2017

        I do not think the SNP will be much around by then.

  25. Lifelogic
    March 14, 2017

    Theresa May is still going on about protecting workers rights – in PM questions today.

    The only meaningful protection is plenty of alternative available jobs, something her big government, high tax, expensive energy and ever more red tape agenda clearly mitigates against.

    This should be blindingly obvious to a Conservative.

    Reply Maintaining EU employment protections in UK law was a crucial part of the cross party support for Brexit.

  26. Atlas
    March 14, 2017

    Is Holland the only country to ban visiting Turkish Ministers?

    For one NATO country to act like this to another is disquieting to put it mildly.

  27. A cooked goose
    March 14, 2017

    Turkey first tried and with some success thanks to serene Merkel in interfering in Germany. She managed to silence free speech— satirical joking on a satirical show, a comedic practice that even Dark Age monarchs tolerated and even promoted when the butt of the joke was directed against them personally and to their Courts by the appointed and paid professional Court Jester. We should not, unlike Merkel, bow before tyrannical Turkey except as a joke.

  28. John B
    March 14, 2017

    Thanks for the insight. I wondered why this had happened – one of those, ‘Where did that come from?’ moments.

    Politicians putting their own ambitions first rather than the people they represent… shocker.

  29. Double your money
    March 14, 2017

    When MPs have quite finished repeating themselves as though Parliament were an infinite echo chamber for the entertainment of heaven knows who, they may wish to get their House in order by having proper business meetings. When a vote is won, that should be the end of the matter and not the end of the matter bar the shouting and bar the never-ending repetition of the original voted-down arguments.
    One realises that each MP feels they must have something to dish out to their respective local newspapers within Constituency electorates. However, local newspaper circulation is very small now in relative and real terms. The politics..even small comments are mostly not read. They could save much time and inconvenience to push ten leaflets though doors at random in their Constituencies and have the same or more effect. Also get Parliament working properly with a minimum of repeats. To repeat.

  30. Andy Marlot
    March 14, 2017

    One more straw on the EU camels back. The sooner the whole ridiculous mess collapses the better.

  31. Tom William
    March 14, 2017

    While foreigners can sometimes vote in their embassy or consulate they do not have the right to hold election rallies in other countries.

  32. BoE
    March 14, 2017

    Mr Carney is overly serene about his personnel selection, too.

  33. Mick
    March 14, 2017
    This is why Mrs May should not be differing, there is always a slight chance that someone might find a way to stop article 50, so invoke it now and not the end of the month, stop pussyfooting around and get on with it

  34. Anonymous
    March 14, 2017

    It has been 9 months. In that time we have been subject to EU rule and EU immigration.

    The Tory leader told us he would send the letter on the 24th June last year.

    Is there a single thing the Tories can be trusted on ?

    1. alan jutson
      March 14, 2017


      Be fair, it was David Cameron who made that promise and he never was a Tory or even a Statesman.

      He may have looked the part, but run away when the going got a little too hot for his liking.

  35. Original Richard
    March 14, 2017

    Mr. Erdogan’s (Turkey population 80m+) wish for his ministers to campaign in the Netherlands (population 17m) is to ensure that the Turkish ex pats remain loyal to Turkey.

  36. Independence NOW!
    March 14, 2017

    Sturgeon should be encouraged. If Scotland gets Independence we would be financially better off. Also we would not need to have the “token Scot” journalist as one regular Scottish journalist said he was on Sky News recently. He did not appear to get disciplined for it. He certainly wasn’t sacked. Possibly there are other self-proclaimed “token Scots” who are his superiors. They can go too. It’ll save our media a fortune. They are pretty useless anyway. They could do the weather forecast in Scotland. “It’s going to rain” They may be able to remember that line.

  37. Aatif Ahmad
    March 14, 2017

    Turkey will soon leave NATO and join the Russian group SCO and the Eurasian Economic Union together with other Turkic countries. It has achieved nothing by begging for admission to the EU and now that Britain is leaving the EU, the attraction of joining this club has diminished, as has the utility of NATO.

    1. rose
      March 16, 2017

      Nothing? What about the investment, relocated factories, money, and membership of the Customs Union? A much better deal than the one we have had all these decades. They have done very well to stay out of the single currency and the internal market, thus preserving their national identity and pride.

      Quite mad that the EU is undermining NATO, and not paying attention to the importance of its US and Turkish allies.

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