On the calls for a lockdown, Erdogan has said Turkey must “keep wheels turning” to sustain an economy recovering from recession.The mayor said he had sent messages to Erdogan and that they needed to establish an atmosphere where they can work together. But as yet the two have not spoken since the outbreak began.
Turkey’s president Erdogan announced new public safety measures on Friday, but refused to impose a nationwide curfew, despite exponentially rising Covid-19 cases. He also claimed the virus came from Europe and US via travelers, failing to mention those who went to pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, and illegal migration from virus-infested Iran and Iraq. Erdogan didn’t forget to attack the opposition, accusing the main opposition party CHP of sabotaging the battle against the outbreak. He had launched a National Solidarity Donation Drive earlier in the week, which has rapidly turned mandatory for the employees of pro-AKP companies and in some Ministries for civil servants. He also ordered a stop to local donation drives by CHP mayors.
Istanbul’s CHP mayor Ekrem Imamoglu is aghast at divisive politicking while the virus is spreading fast, wanting a curfew.
Europe’s largest city, Istanbul, is running out of time to impose a lockdown and stop a surge in coronavirus cases as around two million people are still going out into the streets every day, its mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Compounding the problem, revived tensions between his opposition CHP municipality and President Tayyip Erdogan’s government are distracting attention from the battle against the disease, he told Reuters in an interview.
The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey has surged above 20,000 in less than three weeks.
The central government has urged people to stay at home and ordered a string of restrictions. But it has stopped short of imposing a full lockdown on public life in an effort to cushion the economic impact.
Imamoglu repeated his call for a stay-at-home order for his city, the country’s commercial hub where 60% of the cases have been recorded.
“The measures you take for 16 million people, the methods for stopping the pandemic will save Turkey,” he said at the mayoral residence.
“We are in the most critical time,” he added. “Looking at the situation across the world, we are in a period that is very intense and could lead to figures that will upset us very much.”
He said an estimated 15% of Istanbul’s population were still using public transport or private vehicles.
According to Health Minister Mr. Fahrettin Koca, Istanbul is the epicenter of the epidemic, with some super-carriers of Covid-19 infecting as many as 16 others.
“This means more than two million people (are still going out), and this is very frightening. It’s as much as the population of a prominent city in Europe.”
Call for cooperation
Last year Imamoglu beat Erdogan’s AK Party candidate in municipal elections, ending 25 years of rule in Istanbul by the AKP and its Islamist predecessors. Since then they have been at odds over issues such as funding and a city canal project.
This week Imamoglu, seen as a possible future candidate for the presidency, launched a fundraising campaign for the needy in the city, but it was blocked by Ankara, reviving the tensions.
Erdogan criticized the municipal fundraising, saying the presidency must run aid efforts.
On the calls for a lockdown, Erdogan has said Turkey must “keep wheels turning” to sustain an economy recovering from recession.
The mayor said he had sent messages to Erdogan and that they needed to establish an atmosphere where they can work together. But as yet the two have not spoken since the outbreak began.
“Around 60-65% of the problem in Turkey is in Istanbul right now. Therefore, we must be able to contact them directly and solve our issues together,” he said.
Imamoglu said the state had been slow to respond to his repeated calls for talks, and it was wrong that he was only able to meet the state-appointed provincial governor last weekend, a month into the fight against the spread of the virus.
“Clearly it has a political basis and this saddens us because such environments cannot have politics,” he said.
Imamoglu said he had held a video conference with around 45 of the biggest municipalities across the world and heard warnings, especially from Milan, Madrid and Rome, about how bad things could get.
“Istanbul is one of Europe’s busiest cities economically. Stopping the pandemic in such a big city will bring comfort to Europe and the world too,” he said.
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