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Dutch Police Arrests Six Over Violence During Turkish Minister’s Visit

Dutch police arrested six people over links to violence erupted around Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam during a visit by Turkish minister earlier this year.

“The public prosecutor is pursuing six suspects for public order offenses during the unrest which occurred around the Turkish consulate,” the prosecutor’s office said on Friday.

“One of the suspects is also wanted for attempted grievous bodily harm — this 36-year-old man is suspected of hitting a policeman over the head.”

Violence sparked on March 11 after both Germany and The Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from attending rallies designed to win support from expatriate Turks for a referendum extending President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

Turkish minister of family affairs, Fatma Betul Kaya, traveled to the Dutch port city overland from neighboring Germany despite the ban on politicians attending.

Hours earlier, Dutch authorities had prevented Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu‘s plane from landing as he tried to attend a gathering of Rotterdam’s sizeable Turkish community.

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb was forced to appeal for calm after violence broke out outside the Turkish consulate as marchers protested the ban on ministers appearing.

Dutch riot police intervened using dogs, horses and a water cannon to break up the protest.

“As the meeting drew to a close a group of people rushed the police, throwing stones and paving stones among other things,” the public prosecutor’s office said.

Tensions had already been running high among the Turkish community since the abortive coup against Erdogan in July of last year, with complaints of intimidation against both pro- and anti-Erdogan supporters.

Dutch authorities promptly launched an investigation, culminating in the arrests after the publication of 14 photos of suspects on a police website.

The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis between Ankara and The Hague which is still simmering nine months on.

In an interview published Thursday, Erdogan nonetheless said he hoped for an improvement in relations with Germany and the European Union in general which a severe post-coup crackdown has soured.

He insisted there was “no reason” why he would not himself visit Germany or The Netherlands, saying his country wanted to increase its ranks of friends, even if Turkey’s long-running bid to join the EU has long since ground to a virtual halt.

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