Turkey said yesterday that it would suspend high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands after Dutch authorities prevented its ministers from speaking at rallies of expatriate Turks, deepening the row between the two Nato allies.

The sanctions - which include a ban on the Dutch ambassador and diplomatic flights from the Netherlands but do not appear to include economic measures or travel restrictions for ordinary citizens - mark another low point in relations between Turkey and the European Union, which it still officially aims to join.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking Turkish voters' support in an April 16 referendum on boosting his powers as head of state, has previously accused the Dutch Government of acting like "Nazi remnants" for barring his ministers from addressing expatriate Turks to drum up votes.

The row is likely to further dim Ankara's prospects of EU membership. It also comes as Turkey wrestles with security concerns over militant attacks and the war in neighbouring Syria.


"We are doing exactly what they did to us. We are not allowing planes carrying Dutch diplomats or envoys to land in Turkey or use our airspace," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told a news conference after a cabinet meeting. "Those creating this crisis are responsible for fixing it."

Kurtulmus, the Government's chief spokesman, also threatened to scrap Turkey's deal to stop the flow of migrants into Europe, saying the agreement may need to be re-evaluated. He said high-level government meetings would be suspended between the two countries until the Netherlands had atoned for its actions.

Earlier Erdogan threatened to take the Dutch to the European Court of Human Rights.

Turkey also summoned the Dutch charge d'affaires to complain about the ban - imposed due to fears of unrest and also to Dutch distaste at what Europe sees as an increasingly authoritarian tone from Erdogan - and the actions of police against Turkish protesters in Rotterdam over the weekend, Foreign Ministry sources said.

On Sunday, Dutch police used dogs and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some protesters threw bottles and stones and several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a Reuters witness said. Mounted police officers charged the crowd.

"The Turkish community and our citizens were subject to bad treatment, with inhumane and humiliating methods used in disproportionate intervention against people exercising their right to peaceful assembly," a statement attributed to ministry sources said.

The Dutch Government barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam on Saturday and later stopped Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate there, before escorting her back to Germany.

Protests then erupted in Turkey and the Netherlands.

Several European countries have stopped Turkish politicians holding rallies, due to fears that tensions in Turkey might spill over into their expatriate communities. Some 400,000 Turkish citizens live in the Netherlands and an 1.5 million Turkish voters live in Germany.

Yesterday, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said he would try to prohibit Turkish ministers from campaigning in his country too for "reasons of public security".

The Dutch Government said the visits were untimely ahead of today's national election, in which polls suggest it may lose about half its seats due to expected big gains by the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders.

Dutch visitors are important to Turkey's tourism industry, which was hit hard last year by security fears due to attacks by Isis and Kurdish militants. Some 900,000 Dutch people visited Turkey last year, down from 1.2 million a year earlier.