Minister calls mayor a 'fool' for criticizing Turkey in European Council

A bitter war of words began between Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, with the former calling the latter a "fool" for "complaining" about Turkey in a speech in the European Council.

Duvar English

Turkey's Interior Minister has called a mayor a "fool" for criticizing Turkey in a speech the latter made in the European Council.

"To the fool who went there and complained about Turkey; The people will make you pay for this," Minister Soylu has said regarding Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu's speech in the European Council Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

In his speech on Oct. 30, İmamoğlu criticized the appointment of trustees to municipalities of the country's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), saying that the practice is against democracy and law.

Soylu, in return, defended the appointments.

"Shame on you! Should we say, 'They were elected, what can we do?' when they attack our freedom, peace and fraternity," he said.

Dozens of trustees were appointed to municipalities won by the HDP in elections over the party's alleged links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a group Ankara, Washington and the European Union designate as a terrorist organization.

İmamoğlu, who is from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), had to compete twice in local elections due to the fact that the first one on March 31 was cancelled by the electoral board upon the government's objections.

He won the second elections on June 23 that he competed against the government's candidate by a clear difference in the number of votes.

When asked about Soylu's harsh remarks, İmamoğlu said "I won't lower myself to his level," while slamming the cancellation of March 31 elections.

"Those who cancelled the March 31 elections are fools. I'm calling on him to be a statesman. It's enough," the mayor told journalists on Nov. 4, adding "I defended my country quite well in Strasbourg."

"I told them about how Europe left Turkey on its own about refugees in a depth and strength that they [the government] can't manage," he also said.

"These sentences are saddening. They don't suit an interior minister," İmamoğlu added.

A day later, the war of words between the officials continued, with Soylu defending his earlier remarks.

"If complaining about Turkey in Strasbourg after seizing an opportunity in Europe, saying that Turkey engages in violations of law, defending the mayors removed from their posts over terror links and saying that their imprisonment is correct, then I apologize from the people and İmamoğlu," Soylu said on Nov. 5.

"Who are the partners of the PKK inside Turkey? Should we keep silent against them? Then let's leave the country to a couple of PKK dogs," he also said, while adding that "we are standing behind every word we said no matter what the price is."