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EU’s Piri says İstanbul mayor’s possible removal from office would have ‘serious consequences’

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Kati Piri, Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament (EP), has warned that a possible move by the Turkish government to remove İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from office would have serious consequences in Turkey-EU relations.

In a controversial move on Aug.19, the Turkish Interior Ministry removed the mayors of Mardin, Van and Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey, claiming they have links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The mayors were elected from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the March 31 local elections.

Following the ministry’s move, it has been speculated that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government might also remove the mayors of İstanbul and Ankara, who are from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“Since local elections, Turkish government started replacing elected mayors. @suleymansoylu now threatening İstanbul’s @ekrem_imamoglu. If they remove him, this will have very serious consequences for EU-Turkey relations. Better think twice before acting,” Piri tweeted on Friday.

Her message came in the wake of remarks from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu who upon a question of whether İstanbul mayor İmamoğlu could be ousted and replaced by a government-appointed trustee, said: “A mayor fulfills his duty within the limits of his mandate. … I’ll say more on Sunday morning.”

During a state of emergency declared by the Turkish government in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016, the government removed dozens of elected mayors from their posts, most of whom were from the HDP, and replaced them with trustees.

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