The mayor of the Aegean province of Muğla, Osman Gürün, has said that the governor's office has never invited him to meetings of the crisis coordination center, which was established in response to the ongoing wildfires in the province.
Gürün, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said that the Muğla Governor's Office sent invitations to heads of municipality departments, but not him.
“The governor invited [heads of] the departments of technical works, transportation, water administration and fire station, and wanted them to come without my knowledge. And they went, of course they will go. It would not be the case that I would not send them because I have not been informed, but there was no coordination,” Gürün said on Aug. 5, emphasizing that the lack of coordination created problems in the fight against wildfires.
Due to this lack of coordination, firefighting planes and helicopters have not been dispatched to crucial areas, said Gürün.
Gürün also commented on statements of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who argued that firefighting efforts to extinguish forest fires raging through Turkey fall under the responsibility of metropolitan municipalities in residential areas.
“Municipalities do not have authority or responsibility with regards to forests. Our responsibility is to intervene in fires in residential areas. What do I do? If fires have approached residential areas, I put up a wall around it,” Gürün said.
The municipalities in Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean regions, where the fires are raging through, are mostly run by opposition parties, mainly the CHP.
The wildfires have turned into another partisan issue in Turkey, with Erdoğan accusing the CHP of uttering “terror of lies” for criticizing the government over the inadequate preparedness in the face of wildfires.
Mayor Gürün also said that 35,365 citizens have been evacuated from their homes in Muğla's seven districts since the forest fires started in the province on July 29.