By Burcu Arik
ANKARA (AA) - In a further escalation of the row between Turkey and Europe over political campaigning, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the Netherlands of complicity in the Srebrenica massacre.
“We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre,” he said, referring to the 1995 killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys.
“We know how they are spineless and ignoble as they massacred 8,000 Bosnians.”
The massacre in the eastern Bosnian town -- the worst mass killing since World War II -- occurred when a Dutch battalion of UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians from Bosnian Serb forces.
Addressing an audience in Ankara, Erdogan added: “Nobody should try to give us lessons in civilization. Their history is dark but ours is clean.”
In July 2014, a Dutch court ordered the Netherlands to compensate the families of more than 300 Srebrenica victims, saying the peacekeepers should have known they would be killed.
The comments follow the Netherlands' refusal at the weekend to allow Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from addressing Turkish nationals in Rotterdam on the April 16 constitutional referendum.
The Dutch authorities refused permission for Cavusoglu’s flight to land and when Kaya tried to step in she was prevented from entering the Turkish consulate in the port city by police and escorted to the German border to be deported.
“By displaying state-sponsored terror on Saturday, the Netherlands has greatly damaged the EU, its values which are no longer the bloc of laws, freedoms,” Erdogan said.
Earlier, Ankara rejected calls to de-escalate tensions with Europe, with the Foreign Ministry calling the EU’s position “incorrect” and “short-sighted”.