Dutch authorities announced on February 5 that the Netherlands’ ambassador to Turkey had been recalled after Amsterdam and Ankara failed to resolve their differences over a year-old spat that erupted when the Dutch barred Turkish cabinet ministers from openly campaigning in the Netherlands during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election campaign in 2017.

“Recent talks offered Turkey and the Netherlands an opportunity to come closer to each other, but we have not been able to agree on the way normalisation should take place,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra in a statement.

The root of the rift between the two countries stretches back to an incident in early 2017 when Dutch authorities would not allow Turkish officials to campaign in favour of a referendum that granted the authoritarian Erdogan even greater powers.

“The Netherlands and Turkey have not cut diplomatic ties, the Dutch withdrawal of an already non-resident ambassador is just a formal move,” he said, adding, “Our diplomatic ties remain intact at the level of charge d’affaires,” Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said in a prepared statement.

The Dutch ambassador has not been resident at the embassy in Ankara since being barred from entering the country shortly after the Dutch government refused to allow the Turkish ministers to openly campaign in the country.

The Netherlands also said it would not grant permission for another Turkish ambassador to be appointed until the Dutch ambassador is allowed to return to their post.