Turkish FM urges European Union to implement visa-free regime

"Wilders" anti-Islam Party for Freedom could only manage a second position in the Dutch polls, securing 20 seats.

The German minister defended Saturday the banning of rallies, aimed at winning votes from a Turkish diaspora that numbers as many as 1.4 million in Germany alone. "Soon religious wars will begin in Europe", he added.

Cavusoglu said if what had happened in the Netherlands had happened elsewhere, the Dutch government would have started lecturing them on democracy.

Turkey's foreign minister says U.S. Secretary of State RexTillerson is expected to visit the country on March 30.

"It's going to take a lot of hard diplomacy to backtrack and to put things back on track; obviously for Europe, for its own interest, it will maintain things".

Turkey and Europe are locked in diplomatic crisis after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from campaigning for a "yes" vote in next month's referendum. "Erdogan is clearly on the wrong path and he's harming Turkish interests".

Anti-immigrant nationalists shudder at the idea of a swiftly growing and more powerful Turkish - and Muslim - population in Europe.

But the mayor of the Dutch city of Rotterdam approved a pro-Turkish protest scheduled for midnight yesterday (Singapore time), over the police's handling of clashes that erupted outside the Turkish consulate last Saturday.

Erdogan and his surrogates are trying to court the millions of Turks living in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, ahead of a referendum in April on the expansion of the president's powers.

But his rhetoric has raised questions about the continuation of Turkey's half-century bid to join the EU.

Meanwhile, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in a recent interview that there was now no helpful reason that would bring the European Union and Turkey together, due to Ankara's verbal attacks and the way that the rule of law and order in Turkey had been trampled on following the July attempted coup.

Tensions between Germany and Turkery are on the rise again, with the Turkish president accusing the German chancellor of using "Nazi" measures. A big agreement between Turkey and the European Union hangs in the balance: Last year, Turkey agreed to curb the flow of migrants from the Middle East into Europe in exchange for $3 billion in economic aid, visa-free travel for Turks to Europe, and a renewed push in talks over Turkey joining the EU.

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