2nd STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR RAUF ENGİN SOYSAL, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF TURKEY, In Response to the Netherlands under the Current Issue: Recent Developments Affecting the Relations Between Turkey and the Netherlands, 1137th Meeting of the Permanent Council
I take the floor to respond to the Ambassador of the Netherlands.
My distinguished colleague referred to rhetoric to which she added a number of poignant qualifications. She also referred to the planned visit of our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, to the Netherlands. Let me start with our Foreign Minister’s planned visit to the Netherlands, on how it was deliberately obstructed by the Dutch authorities on claimed concerns for public security and order.
The Dutch side refused every accommodation proposed by our Minister to find a reasonable solution. The original location for the meeting was our Consulate premises in Rotterdam.We accepted to change the location of our meeting from Rotterdam to our Embassy premises in The Hague.The Dutch wanted to limit the number of invitees to 50 persons in a country where the Turkish community numbers around 400.000.
When they finally agreed to the figure of 100 invitees instead of 50, they came up without another totally unacceptable demand: in an unprecedented way in diplomatic customs, they asked for the submission of the names of all the invitees to attend the meeting at the Embassy premises. This was designed to sabotage our meeting, because they knew and we knew that it was completely contrary to all diplomatic and civilized rules and practices.
Therefore, we arrived at a total deadlock due to the intransigence of the Dutch side. Then the Dutch authorities cancelled the permit granted for our Minister’s flight. They also informed us that they did not want our Minister to come to the country by land route.
As a matter of fact, similar peaceful activities, such as on the occasion of parliamentary elections, had been organized without any incidents in the past, in different European countries where our citizens live.
I have been trying to empathize with the Dutch Ambassador’s words, fully in line with the spirit of dialogue which needs to reign in this hall. But I am unable to find therein, the answer to the issues that I have raised. Should we understandthat when any participating State feels grave indignation from statements, thenthey are allowed to summarily disregard each and every fundamental tenetunderlying the proper conduct in diplomatic relations? More concretely: do the words of my Dutch colleague suggest that, whenever we feel sufficiently offended, we may proceed to puttingdiplomats in jail? We should hardly think so.
At the outset of my initial statement, I very deliberately chose to use the words “concrete, factual and dispassionate account of a series of incidents”. I could, of course, have resorted also to embellishing my recount of that outrageous episode with exuberant depictions and characterizations. But, the gravity of the matter at hand requires that we do not lose focus on the fact that a Minister was forcibly detained, that diplomats were taken into custody and that they were stripped of their belongings and then put into solitary cells. As diplomats ourselves, and I note there are also young diplomats in the hall listening to us, we should know there is no circumstance that could possibly justify such conduct.
Populism is indeed a phenomenon that is affecting political life in numerous parts of our planet. It is no coincidence that we, at the OSCE, organized an event to discuss this issue. It has reached such proportions that if we start leveling accusations to this or that participating State, the accusing side is likely to be easily reminded of the fact that they have their own Achilles’ heel on this matter, and most probably more than just one.
I did not want to delve into how this outrageous chapter may find itself a very fitting context in the rising tide of xenophobia, Islamophobia, discrimination and intolerance in numerous parts of the OSCE geography. We have been drawing attention to the ever-increasing threat this trend, fueled and exploited by right wing ideologies and extremism, poses to our security and stability. We are talking about a geography where we talk about religious freedom as a fundamental tenet of civil life, but where a political figure nonetheless can come up with a slogan to ban a holy book and still attract an alarming degree of support. But I do not intend to play into allowing this debate to lose focus. We are right now talking about a series of incidents involving, inter alia, the use of government sanctioned force against a Minister, and to diplomats who were taken into custody, stripped of their belongings and then put into solitary cells. As diplomats ourselves, we should know there is no circumstance that could possibly justify such conduct. I would, however, be more than happy to discuss on some other occasion everything relating to populism and the nefarious currents of xenophobia, discrimination, intolerance and Islamophobia that are affecting societies near and far.
I gave a factual account of a series of events. An answer based on the notion of “export of domestic” politics does not constitute an answer. It in no way justifies the placing of diplomats in solitary cells. Having said this, I will not fail to add the following: when one takes even a cursory glance at the political debates in numerous European countries, one immediately realizes that we actually do not need to export our issues to those countries. They import it voluntarily and very much gratuitously. “Turkey bashing” seems to have become for them a norm to attract votes without political cost. This is unfortunate indeed.