Turkey's Top Diplomat Warns of Religious Wars in Europe
By VOA News March 16, 2017
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is warning of "religious wars" coming to Europe in response to the re-election of Mark Rutte as Dutch Prime Minister.
Cavusoglu said Thursday there is "no difference" between Rutte and the losing right-wing candidate Geert Wilders, whom Cavusoglu referred to as a "fascist."
"Where are you going, where are you taking Europe? You have begun to disintegrate Europe and take Europe to the cliff. Soon religious wars will begin in Europe," Cavusoglu said.
Wilders's anti-Islam Party for Freedom came in a distant second to Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) with 20 seats, compared to 33.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday during a speech that Rutte had lost Turkey as a friend, even though he beat out Wilders.
"Hey Rutte! You may have emerged as the number one party in the election, but you must know that you have lost Turkey as your friend," Erdogan said.
He also accused the EU of engaging in an anti-Islam "crusade" after a court ruled earlier this week that European companies can ban religious head-covering at work.
"The European Union's court, the European Court of Justice, my esteemed brothers, have started a crusade struggle against the [Muslim] crescent," he said. "Europe is swiftly rolling back to the days before World War II."
Earlier Thursday, Cavusoglu threatened to scrap a deal made last year to stem the tide of refugees pouring into the European Union. He said Turkey could unilaterally block the deal, though he hadn't yet spoken to his EU counterparts about the possibility.
"From now on, we can say 'we will not apply it and it will be over,'" he said.
A European Commission spokesman said Thursday the bloc expects Turkey to honor the deal.
Turkey's diplomatic rift with European leaders deepened last week when Turkish diplomats were blocked from holding political rallies in Germany and the Netherlands.
The relationship between Turkey and the European Union has been on edge since Turkey began engaging in a post-coup crackdown last year.
Cavusoglu was scheduled last Saturday to hold a rally in favor of a Turkish constitutional amendment in Rotterdam, but Dutch authorities withdrew permission for his plane to land, setting off a series of violent clashes in the city.
In April, Turkey will vote on a constitutional amendment that will cede more power to Erdogan. The Dutch and German rallies were meant to shore up support for the amendment among the millions of Turkish citizens living in Europe.
Erdogan repeatedly has referred to European politicians as "Nazis" and said Wednesday the "spirit of fascism" is widespread in Europe.
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement calling Erdogan's Nazi comments "unacceptable."
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