Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has warned that Europe is headed for “wars of religion,” claiming Dutch politicians are taking the continent “to a cliff.” The statement comes amid a bitter dispute between the two countries.
Cavusoglu was speaking at a rally in Antalya on Thursday and gave his assessment of the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. The outcome of the polls saw a failure for the populist politician Geert Wilders to garner a majority of the votes, after a campaign rallying for the closure of mosques and banning of the Koran.
However, instead of rejoicing that the politician and his anti-Islam views had been defeated by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Cavusoglu warned that Wilders’ beliefs are shared by others across the Netherlands.
“There is no difference between the mindsets of Geert Wilders and social democrats in the Netherlands. They all have the same mindset…that mindset is taking Europe to the cliff. Soon wars of religion may and will start in Europe,” Cavusoglu said, as quoted by Reuters.
The comments come amid a bitter feud between the Netherlands and Turkey. Ankara suspended high-level relations with the European country on Monday, after it banned ministers from addressing Turks at a rally in Rotterdam, where they were expected to advocate for a constitutional referendum in Turkey.
Following the ban, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Netherlands of acting like “Nazi remnants.”
Erdogan also accused the Netherlands of state terrorism and having a “rotten” character earlier this week, claiming the Dutch were responsible for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian War.
“We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there. Nobody should try to give us lessons on morality, especially not those who have blood on their hands,” he said.
Dutch peacekeepers have been accused of standing down at the time, allegedly allowing Bosnian Serb forces to kill up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims.
Prior to Turkey imposing diplomatic sanctions on the Netherlands, Rutte warned Ankara that his country would “never negotiate under threats by the Turkish government.”
He said he would attempt to “de-escalate” the row, but stressed that it “takes two to tango.”
Erdogan is lobbying for 5.5 million expatriate Turks to vote ‘yes’ in an upcoming referendum which would give him sweeping new powers to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and state officials, and dissolve parliament.
Critics say the move would be a step backwards for democracy, removing the system of checks and balances.