By Eleanor Rose
In an escalation of the bitter row between the Netherlands and Turkey, Tayyip Recep Erdogan accused the Dutch of responsibility for the massacres of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in 1995.
Turkish president Recep Tayip Erdogan blamed the Dutch for the Srebrenica massacres during a live televised address on Tuesday, causing outrage in the Netherlands.
“We know the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there,” Erdogan said in the speech.
Dutch premier Mark Rutte hit back at Erdogan’s accusation in an interview broadcast by Dutch broadcaster RTL Z on Tuesday afternoon, calling the comments a “disgusting distortion of history”.
After Bosnian Serb forces overran the eastern Bosnian in July 1995, several hundred Bosniaks sought refuge inside the UN peacekeepers’ base in nearby Potocari, but were handed to the Serbs by Dutch peacekeepers and subsequently killed.
Serb forces then executed over 7,000 more Bosniak men and boys in massacres that have been defined as genocide by international court rulings.
Erdogan’s accusation was the latest escalation in a high-level diplomatic spat between Turkey and the Netherlands, which provoked the Turkish premier’s ire at the weekend by banning his foreign minister and family affairs minister from attending rallies in the country.
The ministers had planned to join rallies attempted to convince Turks living in the Netherlands to vote for the president’s powers to be expanded in a referendum on April 16.
In response to the ban, Erdogan has suspended high-level relations between the two countries and accused the Dutch of behaving like Nazis.
In July 2014, the District Court in The Hague ruled that the Dutch peacekeepers had failed to protect the Bosniaks who sought refuge in Potocari, and ordered the Netherlands to pay compensation to hundreds of victims.
However, in August 2015, a Dutch military appeals court ruled that the commanders of the UN peacekeeping mission in Srebrenica could not be prosecuted.
Hasan Nuhanovic, a Srebrenica survivor and former translator for the UN peacekeepers, and the family of Rizo Mustafic, who was killed by Serb forces, had appealed against a decision not to charge three former ‘Dutchbat’ peacekeepers with war crimes.