Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu called İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu a “fool” due to his recent criticism of the Turkish government at a Council of Europe event in Strasbourg, saying he will pay the price for what he did, according to Turkish media reports.
İmamoğlu delivered a speech at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on Oct. 30 in which he spoke about a repeat of the March 31 local election in İstanbul although he was the winner because he said the Justice and Development Party (AKP) manipulated the results and had the election cancelled by the election authority.
In the repeat election on June 23, İmamoğlu won with an even greater margin than in the first election against the AKP candidate.
“I am saying this to the fool who has gone to Europe and complained about Turkey there. This nation will make you pay the price for this. Shame on you. Shame on you for the schools of this nation you attended, for the effort this nation made for you,” Soylu said at a meeting on Monday without mentioning İmamoğlu’s name.
In his speech in Strasbourg, İmamoğlu also criticized the AKP government for removing democratically elected Kurdish mayors from office on the grounds that they have links to terrorism.
With regards to the issue of the removal of the Kurdish mayors, Soylu said the people elected them to have the garbage in cities collected and to improve city infrastructure, not act hand-in-hand with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and serve its interests.
Kurdish politicians are frequently accused in Turkey of having links to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US and has waged a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984.
In the meantime, İmamoğlu was asked about Soylu’s remarks during a meeting in İstanbul later on Monday. The İstanbul mayor said he would not lower himself to Soylu’s level but said it was a pity for an interior minister to talk about a mayor in such a way.
İmamoğlu said the fools are actually those who had the March 31 election cancelled because they tarnished Turkey’s image in Europe and the entire world with their stunt.