Dutch parliamentarians cancel Turkey visit

A planned trip to Turkey by a delegation from the Dutch parliament has been cancelled. The trip was scheduled for January, and intended as a “fact finding mission” in connection with Turkey’s hopes to join the EU.

Last week a representative from the foreign affairs ministry stated that Geert Wilders, leader of the right wing Freedom Party (PVV) would not be welcome in the country. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, was free to refuse to receive the Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders, though the statement did not represent an official position from the Turkish government.

In response to the comment, Dutch MPs voted yesterday to cancel the January trip even though politicians, academics and other interest groups had agreed to meet delegates. “The delegation takes the view it is for parliament to decide who should be in the delegation,” the parliamentary European affairs commission said in a statement.

DutchNews.nl reports that Turkish MPs are disappointed by the cancelled trip. “If a Dutch colleague has preconceptions about our country, the best thing to do is welcome him and change his mind,” Yasar Yakis, chairman of the Turkish parliament’s EU harmonisation committee told the NRC.