After the Netherlands barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu earlier Saturday from landing, due to his plans to speak at political rallies angling to grant President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan more power, and mere hours after Erdoğan called the Dutch "Nazi remnants" in response, it is time for Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to come out against Erdoğan's comments.
Erdogan denounced the Netherlands as "Nazi remnants, fascists" after the Dutch government withdrew permission for his foreign minister to land there.
"It's a crazy remark of course," Rutte told journalists during campaigning for the March 15 election. "I understand they're angry, but this of course was way out of line."
The Dutch are due to vote in a national election on Wednesday, in which anti-immigration sentiment has played a prominent role with nationalist candidate Geert Wilders calling Erdoğan a dictator.
Çavuşoğlu had stated on Saturday morning that he would fly to Rotterdam anyway and accused the Dutch of treating Turkish citizens in the country like "hostages".
"I sent them so they could contribute to your economy ... They're not your captives," he told CNN Turk television.
"If my going will increase tensions, let it be. What damage will my going have on them? I am a foreign minister and I can go wherever I want," he said before the Dutch barred his flight.
Çavuşoğlu had threatened harsh economic and political sanctions if the Dutch refused him entry, a threat that proved decisive for the Netherlands government.
It cited public order and security concerns in withdrawing landing rights for Çavuşoğlu's flight. But it said the sanctions threat made the search for a reasonable solution impossible.
Dutch Prime Minister Rutte said that while the Netherlands and Turkey could search for "an acceptable solution", Turkey was not respecting the rules relating to public gatherings.
"Many Dutch people with a Turkish background are authorized to vote in the referendum over the Turkish constitution. The Dutch government does not have any protest against gatherings in our country to inform them about it," he wrote on Facebook.
"But these gatherings may not contribute to tensions in our society and everyone who wants to hold a gathering is obliged to follow instructions of those in authority so that public order and safety can be guaranteed," Rutte added.
Four planned Turkish rallies in Austria and one in Switzerland have also been canceled in the dispute.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will do everything possible to prevent any spillover of Turkish political tensions onto German soil. She also bluntly called on Erdoğan to stop comparing modern-day Germany to the Nazis, a call that remained unheeded, as Çavuşoğlu repeated this sentiment several hours after Merkel's demand. Çavuşoğlu added that Turks in Germany were under systematic pressure from police and intelligence services.
Erdoğan is looking to the large number of emigrant Turks living in Europe, especially Germany and the Netherlands, to help clinch victory in next month's referendum, which will shape the future of a country whose position on the edge of the Middle East makes it of crucial strategic importance to NATO.
He has cited domestic threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants and a July coup bid as cause to vote "yes" to his new powers. But he has also drawn on the emotionally charged row with Europe to portray Turkey as betrayed by allies, facing wars on its southern borders and in need of strong leadership.
"Listen Netherlands, you'll jump once, you'll jump twice, but my people will thwart your game," Erdoğan said. "You can cancel our foreign minister's flight as much as you want, but let's see how your flights come to Turkey now.
Erdoğan chafed at Western criticism of his mass arrests and dismissals of people authorities believe were linked to a failed July attempt by the military to topple him. He also made a veiled threat of possible realignment of Turkey in the world in a reference to Russia.