Despite criticism from the opposition and several NGOs, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insists that Turkey is in a better shape than many developed nations in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
“We have shown that Turkey is on its feet, while the systems of even developed countries are crumbling in every area,” Erdoğan said, while addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayors during a video conference on April 2.
“We have adopted a sensitive approach as soon as the epidemic started. We have proceeded with the suggestions that we have received from competent experts of the issue, not with those who are expressing opinions in a dogmatic way on social media,” Erdoğan said, referring to criticism suggesting that measures taken by the government are falling short to address the growing crisis.
“Thank God, we are at a better position compared to many countries, but we do not see this as sufficient. The biggest threat that disrupts the struggle [against coronavirus] is pessimism,” he said.
“We are undertaking our struggle with smart, balanced and realistic moves, without panicking. With the permission of God, Turkey has the power and capacity to overcome this epidemic. Our nation will overcome this crisis, like it did others before.”Istanbul Mayor reiterates call for city-wide curfew amid increasing number of coronavirus cases
Erdoğan's comments came amid calls for the government to declare a curfew to slow the spread of the virus. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), has been for days pushing for a stronger lockdown in the city, saying that the government has been ignoring his calls.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has also criticized what it says is a lack of government readiness and transparency as cases surged over the last three weeks, and has been among those pressing Ankara to adopt and enforce a stay-at-home order.
The TTB said that hospitals in Istanbul were short of masks, gloves, goggles and other protective equipment and could face a severe lack of beds.
Erdoğan again targets CHP municipalities' donation aid drives
President Erdoğan on April 2 also targeted the municipalities of the CHP, criticizing them for initiating their own donation campaigns to help those in need amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The central government in Ankara has said money-raising campaigns launched by Istanbul and Ankara municipalities, both run by the CHP, are illegal and it has threatened to prosecute those involved.
İmamoğlu launched the campaign this week with the slogan "We will succeed together," seeking cash and other donations from wealthier Turks for hundreds of thousands of those in need.No point in being a state within the state, Erdoğan says on CHP's coronavirus donation campaigns
Erdogan then launched a rival "National Solidarity" campaign and promised seven months of his salary to the cause. Various state institutions, firms and politicians made contributions.
In a not veiled reference to the CHP municipalities' campaigns, Erdoğan said: “We will not let those who are after disintegration instead of solidarity to succeed. Our people will give those who see themselves above the state the response they deserve. No one is above the law.”
Aday earlier on April 1, Erdoğan had accused the CHP municipalitiesof trying to form “a state within the state.” “Themunicipalities can’t attempt to be a state within the state andthey can’t launch campaigns without permission,” he had said.