A planned visit to Turkey by Dutch members of parliament remains unconfirmed, after the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced the delegation would not be welcome if it included Geert Wilders. Foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told AFP that the far-right politician, leader of the Freedom Party and a vocal critic of Islam, is “unwelcome” in Turkey due to his racist views. In response, the parliamentary European Affairs Commission said it would cancel the visit if not all members of the delegation are received by the Turkish authorities.
Wilders has asked Foreign Minister Verhagen to lodge a complaint over the refusal. Verhagen is only willing to point out to Ankara the need for conversations with Dutch MPs and the attending advantages and says his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, is free to refuse to receive the Dutch populist politician.
De Volkskrant reports that the Turkish government is now embarrassed by the situation as refusing to meet Wilders would allow the controversial politician to accuse Turkey of being undemocratic and unable to take criticism.
NRC Handelsblad reports that while Turkish daily Aksam broke the news of the ministry’s worries about Wilders’ forthcoming visit, the controversy got little attention in other Turkish media. The paper also notes that some secular and religious opinion makers in Turkey who are familiar with Wilders say they would welcome a conversation with the polemic politician, for reasons of their own.