Knabin: The Netherlands still supports Erdogan's call for the release of activist Kavala |  Policy

Knabin: The Netherlands still supports Erdogan’s call for the release of activist Kavala | Policy

The Netherlands continues to stand “unequivocally” behind Turkey’s call for the release of activist Osman Kavala from pre-trial detention. According to the cabinet, the government was to back down after President Erdogan threatened to expel ten ambassadors from the country.

“We support this call, there is no doubt about it. We bring up this issue over and over again and we will continue to do so,” outgoing Secretary of State Ben Knappen said in the House of Representatives.

Erdogan said, on Saturday, that Turkey had declared ten ambassadors persona non grata due to the joint call for Kavala’s release. On Monday, Dutch Ambassador Marjane de Koastnet said with other ambassadors that their country respects the diplomatic principle of non-interference in domestic legal proceedings. Ankara announced that same evening that the diplomats would not be expelled after all. As a result, the diplomatic row was nipped in the bud.


The course of events prompted criticism that the Netherlands and other Western countries succumbed to Erdogan’s pressure. According to Nabin, this is not the case. According to him, the ambassadors came with their statement because it was suggested that the ten countries would not respect the Vienna Convention. Contains the substance that excludes interference. “If we are criticized and there is a counter-reaction that we will be violating international treaties, we are obligated to point out that this is not the case,” he says.

Knaben believes that this does not mean, however, that the Netherlands has “retreated”. The ten countries merely repeated the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. Turkey previously ordered Kavala’s immediate release from pre-trial detention. Knappen: “The invitation was in the spirit of the agreements that we had internationally.”

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Not on the carpet

According to the CDA minister, the Netherlands will continue to demand accountability from countries regarding the rule of law if necessary and “other countries can also do the same with us”. At the same time, he does not intend to contact the Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands.

D66 MP Schordsma was pleased with the government’s explanation which, he said, did not contain a “Spanish word”. He called on other MPs to disagree with the “framework” that the Dutch ambassador would be “incompetent” and act “cowardly”. He concluded with satisfaction, “The Netherlands continues to clearly and explicitly support the call for Kavala’s release.”


However, other deputies believe that the course of events was not good. “The past few days have been very painful,” says VVD MP Robin Breckelmanns, who called it a “weakness” that the Netherlands and other countries emphasized respect for the Vienna Convention. According to him, this sentence can be interpreted in more ways. Now it seems that when the dictator responds, the West withdraws from the ring.”

Knapen opposes and says only a “misunderstanding” has been corrected.

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