It is a centuries old custom, respected all over the world, that flags of foreign nations fly unhindered on embassies and consular offices regardless of any local flag regulations and the state of affairs between the countries in question. That is why this morning’s events at the Golden Horn is something of a diplomatic faux pas.
On the morning of Sunday 12 March, 2017, an incident happened at the Dutch Consulate General in Istanbul. It was reported by international media that, for a while, a Turkish flag replaced the Dutch flag on the consulate’s rooftop flagpole. Apparently, a man had gained access to the roof and was able to lower the red-white-blue flag of the Netherlands and replace it with the flag of Turkey. Shortly afterwords, however, the Dutch tricolour was back in place.
This happened after days of tensions between the governments of Turkey and the Netherlands. Saturday 11 March, 2017, the Dutch government prevented Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the Minister for Family and Social Policies, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, from speaking to AKP supporters in Rotterdam. The Turkish government has expressed its outrage over this decision in harsh terms.
Politicians in the Netherlands and in other European countries openly express discontent with the fact that members of the Turkish government and the AKP (Justice and Development Party) leadership actively seek the support of the millions of Turkish citizens living in Europe ahead of the Turkish referendum on 16 April, 2017. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seeks to change the Turkish constitution and strengthen his power over Turkish politics.
The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul is located in the old Beyoğlu district, just north of the Golden Horn. Pro-Erdoğan protesters have gathered outside the consulate following a night of confrontations between Turkish citizens and Dutch police in the streets of Rotterdam. The Dutch consulate in Istanbul is now being protected by Turkish police.