Ministerial level meeting to take place between Netherlands, Turkey

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
Published 26.12.2017 00:00
Updated 26.12.2017 09:49

Parallel to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's hint over the weekend that they will take steps to fix relations between the Netherlands and Turkey, Daily Sabah learned from diplomatic sources that concrete steps, including a ministerial-level visit, will be taking place in the coming weeks.

Diplomatic sources indicated that an exchange of ambassadors will take place in the first weeks of the 2018 as a first step to restore bilateral relations. Accordingly, next week, the Foreign Ministry will ask for an agrément – the approval of a diplomatic representative by the state to which he or she is to be accredited – for a proposed new Turkish ambassador for The Hague.

Former Ambassador Sadık Arslan asked to return to Ankara in June 2017. Since then, a chargé d'affaires has represented the Turkish Embassy in The Hague. In the meantime, Dutch Ambassador to Ankara Cornelis van Rij is expected to return back to Ankara following the confirmation of the new Turkish ambassador.

Sources also indicated that the Turkish side is expecting the Dutch Foreign Ministry to "express their sadness" about the incidents that that took place in March 2017 in order to continue the restoration process of bilateral relations.

Following the statement, a ministerial level visit from the Dutch side is expected to take place. Accordingly, Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, is scheduled to visit Ankara in the third week of Jan. 2018.

Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands soured prior to the Dutch general elections on March 14.

Looking to attract votes from nationalists, the previous Dutch government exerted a number of undemocratic actions against Turkish politicians.

It declined a landing permit to a plane carrying Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was scheduled to speak at a meeting in Rotterdam.

Authorities also barred Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam. She was forced to remain inside her vehicle for hours before being sent to Germany.

The incidents drew severe criticism from Ankara and the Turkish Foreign Ministry asked the off-duty Dutch ambassador in Ankara, who was on leave, not to return "for a while."

Çavuşoğlu and new Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra had met on the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting in Brussels on Dec. 5, with the aim of revitalizing bilateral relations.

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