By Diyar Guldogan, Nilay Kar Onum
ANKARA (AA) - Diplomatic relations between Ankara and Amsterdam have not been suspended, Turkey’s deputy prime minister and government spokesman said Monday.
"The Netherlands did not have an ambassador in Ankara for the past year. They announced that they officially withdraw non-existent ambassador,” Bekir Bozdag told reporters after a Cabinet meeting in Ankara.
"This is not a new event for us. It is a declaration of known. However, the diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey were not suspended," he said,, adding that relations remain at the charge d'affaires level.
His remarks follows a move by the Netherlands earlier in the day to formally withdrew its ambassador to Turkey over a 2017 row.
Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands soured ahead of a major referendum in Turkey when Dutch authorities canceled the flight permit of a plane carrying Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The Dutch government also expelled Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from Rotterdam, blocking her from addressing the Turkish community in the Netherlands before the April 16 vote.
Moreover, rallies organized by Turks there in favor of constitutional changes to shift Turkey to an executive presidential system faced restrictions from both central and local governments.
Turning to the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin region, Bozdag said Ankara will destroy every kind of weapon and munition sent to the Afrin region.
“Every types of weapons and munitions to be sent to Afrin is Turkey’s target. We will shoot, destroy or seize wherever we see them,” he said.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch late last month to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
Only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being put on avoiding harming civilians.
Arin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Bashar Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.