Turkey ponders Wilders visit

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s government is reconsidering the visit of a parliamentary delegation from the Netherlands early January, because Geert Wilders is a delegation member. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is undecided whether to allow PVV leader Wilders entry to Turkey or not.

Daily newspaper Aksam put Wilders’ proposed visit to Turkey on the front page with a big article, and state broadcaster TRT reported it as well. If Wilders were really included in the delegation, then all doors in the political capital Ankara would remain closed to the group, Aksam reported.

The newspaper based the news on an anonymous source, who claimed Ankara had already contacted the Dutch government about the matter. It is claimed the Dutch were given the choice: If they take Wilders with them, there will be no meeting with (among others) Minister of Foreign Affairs Davutoglu and the Turkish EU negotiator. A spokes person for the ministry of Foreign Affairs could not confirm that and only wanted to say that the matter is under consideration.

With the upcoming visit by Wilders the Dutch politician is becoming more widely known in Turkey. Up to now Wilders hardly caused any consternation in Turkey, not even with his film Fitna, but that can change now that he directly criticises Turkey. Wilders wants to go to Turkey to explain directly to the Turks why he is against Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Wilders doesn’t want an ‘Islamic country’ to join the EU. That encounters opposition from many Turks, if only because they don’t consider their own country to be Islamic: Turkey is a secular republic and, for example, doesn’t have any Islamic law.

Also Wilders’ opinion that Turkey can never be an EU member because of its ‘backward’ Islamic culture based on ‘Islamic imperialism’ is not particulary welcomed. Turks are proud that at the end of the First World War they started a war against European ‘imperialists’ (Great Britain, Italy, Greece) who occupied the remains of the Ottoman Empire.

As well , Wilders’ opinion that Turkey doesn’t take good care of its minorities is arguable. The conservative government of Prime Minister Erdogan, who leads a party of devout Muslims, is in fact trying hard to solve the Kurdish question by giving Kurds more rights.

Of course there is also criticism of Wilders’ statement that the Koran is a book similar to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and should be banned: that statement comes up again and again in the Turkish press. The Turkish population consists of at least 95% Muslims, many of them not practising.

postscript: This article was written in the morning. Later that day a spokes person of Minister Davutoglu confirmed that Turkey doesn’t want to meet with Geert Wilders. The delegation now said that if Wilders is not allowed to come, the whole delegation will cancel the trip to Turkey. To be continued!

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