Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan drove his dispute with European nations to the hilt Sunday, boldly claiming that "Nazism is alive in the West" and calling on international organizations to "raise their voices" and enact sanctions against the Netherlands after it escorted a minister out of the country and prevented another one from landing in the country. Erdogan reiterated that the Netherlands would be "made to pay" for its treatment of its ministers, adding there would be no reconciliation with the NATO ally until then. He didn't elaborate, reports the AP. He wasn't alone, as Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told hundreds of supporters in the French city of Metz that the Dutch would be asked to "account" for their decision regardless of an apology. He called the Netherlands the "capital of fascism." Germany last week condemned Turkey for trotting out the Nazi comparison.
Cavusoglu was in Metz as part of a campaign through European cities with high numbers of Turkish expatriates in favor of a set of constitutional reforms that would increase the powers of the Turkish presidency. The reforms need to be approved by the public in an April 16 vote. However, some European nations claim that Turkey under Erdogan is slowly slipping toward dictatorial means, especially since the aborted coup of last summer. Dutch PM Mark Rutte cited that concern in asking Cavusoglu not to come to the Netherlands. "Turkey is a proud nation; the Netherlands is a proud nation. We can never do business under those sorts of threats and blackmail," said Rutte. Still, added the prime minister, his government "will keep working to de-escalate where we can. If the Turks choose to escalate, we will have to react, but we will do everything we can to de-escalate."