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Nato has called for calm in the escalating diplomatic row between Ankara and the Hague over the refusal of the Dutch authorities to allow Turkish ministers to campaign in the Netherlands for a constitutional overhaul in Turkey.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s top civilian, told reporters in Brussels he had been in contact with the Dutch and Turkish governments during a weekend in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, accused the Netherlands of behaving like Nazis.

The Netherlands had refused to allow Turkey’s foreign minister to enter the country for a political rally in support of constitutional changes that will boost Mr Erdogan’s powers in a looming April referendum. The two countries are members of Nato, prompting concern relations within the alliance that it could be destabilised as a result of the row.

“Robust debate is at the heart of our democracies but so is also mutual respect,” said Mr Stoltenberg in response to a question about the tension between Turkey and the Netherlands.

“Therefore I will encourage all allies to show mutual respect, to be calm and to have a measured approach, to contribute to de-escalate the tensions and defuse tensions and de-escalate the situation.”

Nato member states should now concentrate more on questions that unite them than on questions that divide them, he added. Mr Stoltenberg said Nato’s presence in Turkey was good for Turkey but also good for Europe and the rest of the alliance.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said it was up to each member state to decide on who could hold rallies in their countries “in accordance with the applicable provisions of international and national law.

In a joint statement with EU vice commissioner Johannes Hahn, Ms Mogherini added:

The European Union calls on Turkey to refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation.

Matters of concern can only be resolved through open and direct communication channels. We will continue to provide our good offices in the interest of EU-Turkey relations.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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