(Vatican Radio) The prime minister of the Netherlands has condemned comments by Turkey's president holding Dutch U.N. peacekeepers responsible for the massacre by Serb forces of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995.
Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands have rapidly deteriorated in recent days after the Dutch government blocked two Turkish ministers from campaigning in a referendum.
The diplomatic standoff comes hours before polls open in Dutch elections that could see an anti-Islam party win most seats in Parliament.
Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has now accused the Netherlands of the worst massacre since World War Two after the mayor of Rotterdam said police had permission to shoot at guards of the Turkish family minister who was blocked in the port city of Rotterdam on Saturday.
"We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there," he said.
It was a reference to outgunned Dutch United Nations peacekeepers. They were forced to leave Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia by Bosnian Serb forces who carried out the massacre.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned the Turkish president's remarks. "His comments are a falsification of history. It's unacceptable."
Referring to the president, Rutte added that it "shows that the man is every hour increasingly hysterical in his expressions. The man is already several days busy with accusing us of fascism and Nazism and not accuses us of killing many people in the former Yugoslavia. It is acting like an idiot. It is totally unacceptable."
The prime minister also recalled that Erdogan "said most horrific things" about Germany. "Every hour we hear more and more horrible things from Ankara. I advise him to moderate his tone. This is bad for the image of Turkey. It's a proud nation that ends up looking bad on the map."
Ankara is furious that the Dutch government blocked two Turkish ministers over the weekend. They wanted to campaign in Rotterdam among Turkish immigrants for a 'Yes' vote in a referendum on extending the powers of President Erdogan.
The tensions come just hours before polls open in the Netherlands for elections that are seen as a barometer for the influence of populist parties in Europe.
The Dutch government is expected to lose many seats to the anti-Islam Party of Freedom of outspoken politician Geert Wilders amid an ongoing debate about migration and Dutch identity in the Netherlands.