Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has conveyed two of his demands to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the funeral ceremony of former Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbaş, prominent TV presenter İsmail Küçükkaya said on Feb. 19.
Küçükkaya said İmamoğlu had demanded that the government approve of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's request for a loan and also help with the purchase of public buses for the municipality.
“I am not asking for money from you [the government]. But, we have a request to get a loan, and you know about the municipality's situation. We are expecting you to approve our request to get a loan. And secondly, the municipality has not bought buses for the last eight years. Please help with the purchase of buses,” Küçkkaya quoted İmamoğlu as saying to Erdoğan.
In many instances, İmamoğlu said that Turkey's state-owned banks closed their doors to the Istanbul Municipality, which pushed the mayor to seek loans from abroad.
In December, the municipality attempted to export its first Eurobond to international capital markets to fund its uncomplete and new infrastructure projects, but since the Treasury has refused to give approval for the municipality's move, the transaction has not been yet finalized.
Erdoğan has spoken of this issue before saying the municipality “cannot take loans from abroad without my approval.” “Unless the Treasury and Finance Ministry gives approval for the issuance of bonds, no municipality can get such a funding. This issue will eventually come to me and I will have to approve it,” Erdoğan had said.
In June 2019, İmamoglu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), inflicted a stinging defeat on Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) when he was elected mayor in the city of 16 million people. He is seen by some as a contender to challenge Erdoğan in the 2023 presidential elections.
After the election, Turkish state banks abruptly stopped extending loans to the municipality, which had been held for 25 years by Erdoğan’s AKP and its Islamist predecessor Welfare Party.