Minister says Turkey to teach US ambassador it is independent state

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Bekir Bozdağ

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has reacted harshly to US Ambassador John Bass for an embassy statement on the appointment of trustees to some municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast.

“Turkey is an independent, sovereign, strong and big state. Without asking any state or power, Turkey makes its laws by means of the members of the Turkish Parliament, who were directly elected by the free will of the people. Turkey does not and can not allow the intervention of any country when exercising its legislative and executive power,” said Bozdağ in a series of Twitter messages on Monday.

“If the US ambassador has not learned this fact, we can teach him with patience,” added Bozdağ, without mentioning the envoy’s name.

The US Embassy on Saturday released a statement on its website expressing concern about clashes in Turkey’s Southeast following a government decision to remove elected officials from office and replace them with trustees, saying it hopes any appointment of trustees will be temporary and that citizens will soon be permitted to choose new local officials in accordance with the law.

Bozdağ’s remarks came following a similar statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Monday.

“We see it as an intervention into Turkey’s domestic affairs and find such an evaluation unacceptable,” Soylu said in Muş province.

Describing the statement as “irresponsible” and “encouraging terrorism,” Soylu, without mentioning the ambassador by name, continued:

“The envoys of countries we consider friends and allies do not have the right to make evaluations on this issue. … It is a statement that includes an element of incitement.”

The Interior Ministry appointed trustees to 28 local municipalities on Sunday, 24 of which were allegedly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while the other four were allegedly connected to the Gülen movement.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Figen Yüksekdağ described the move as a coup against the will of the people, calling for mass protests against the decision on Sunday.

“The appointment of trustees is laying the groundwork for an internal war. This is a provocation. There is nothing left to talk about on this issue in terms of democracy and the law,” said HDP co-spokesman Ayhan Bilgen during a press conference on Sunday.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has also strongly criticized the government’s municipality move and signaled that it would take it to the Constitutional Court.

“This is political fraud. This is a blow to the will of Parliament stemming from a meeting at the presidential palace,” said CHP group deputy chairman Özgür Özel.

Rebuffing public criticism, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said his government will continue its policy of appointing administrators to Kurdish-run municipalities.

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