Turkish gov't obliges mayors to get approval for meetings with foreign envoys

The Turkish government has brought a new regulation into force requiring mayors to get an approval from the Foreign Ministry before holding any kind of meeting with representatives of foreign countries. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the main opposition CHP, has slammed the move, saying that it shows “the decayedness of the central management.”

This file photo shows İmamoğlu (L) holding a meeting with US ambassador to Turkey, Jeffrey Lane Flake.

Duvar English 

The Turkish central government has made it compulsory for mayors to get a permission from the Foreign Ministry in order to hold meetings with diplomatic envoys of foreign countries.

The incident came out after the Istanbul Governor's Office sent a letter to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, saying that senior officials including mayors, ministers and governors are now required to apply to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and ask for its approval before being able to hold any kind of meeting with representatives of foreign countries.

The new regulation has drawn condemnation from Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu who said that “such steps do not have any meaning beyond showing the decayedness of the central management in the eyes of the public.”

During a ceremony unveiling “Istanbul Vision 2050 Strategic Document” on July 6, İmamoğlu said: “They have decided to bring a restriction to me with regards to my meeting with ambassadors and they have immediately penned a letter this week.”

İmamoğlu also touched upon the deteriorating economic conditions in the country saying that people are now faced with “an unbearable increase cost of living for the sake of a handful of people getting richer.” He however assured people that “this calamitous picture” will get better with “a change in the rulership,” pointing to the general elections scheduled for June 2023.

İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), is one of the figures targeted frequently by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ever since his decisive victory in the Istanbul elections in 2019. Infuriated by losing Turkey's largest city to the main opposition, the AKP has been making İmamoğlu face investigations on bogus charges. 

The ruling party usually uses İmamoğlu’s meetings with foreign ambassadors as a tool for defamation in an effort to present the mayor as a candidate supported by “foreign powers.”