Erdoğan's Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality archive
For days, we have been discussing President Erdoğan's statement: "If the central government and local administrations do not collaborate and stand in solidarity, nothing will come to that city. Did it come to Hatay? Now, Hatay has been left odd, left desolate."
But is this the first time we've heard such words? No. Hence, it was neither a surprise, a gaffe, nor a confession. It's just that the archive of the past 20 years is filled with many similar statements.
What about earlier times? That is, what did we see in Erdoğan's statements when he was the mayor if we delve a bit deeper into the archive? For this, I scanned articles published in our newspaper in the mid-nineties.
There was so much to find. Erdoğan, then the mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, would severely criticize the governments of Tansu Çiller and Mesut Yılmaz, who served as prime ministers at the time. In other words, as a local administrator, he was complaining about the central government.
No need to elaborate. Look, how was Erdoğan, today's victim, a victim himself yesterday? Or how is it that what he complained about yesterday, he is doing today? History upon history, here are those statements from Mayor Erdoğan of Istanbul...
May 18, 1994: "It has become impossible to govern a country like Turkey from Ankara. The biggest obstacle to solving today's problems of local administration is the central government in Ankara."
March 9, 1996: "The central government cannot unilaterally determine a new form of administration. There is a democratic result, whether they like it or not, they have to bear with it. If you want to eliminate every democratic thought, you become a totalitarian regime. Istanbul's problem is not in administration but in the draining of resources."
June 25, 1996: "Our giant investment projects, which have been completed and ready for implementation, are being obstructed by the central government."
February 27, 1997: "Today, most of the meat sold in many markets in Istanbul is smuggled. This needs to be regulated. For it to be regulated, the central government needs to give us authority. We currently do not have such authority. We lack sufficient enforcement power."
December 19, 1997: "Those in Ankara continue to stubbornly resist the times. They are after making local governments even more ineffective."
August 27, 1998: "Generally, mass transportation means like subways are constructed by central governments. However, this subway's construction was solely undertaken by the local government. The central government has done nothing but delay our work."
It's possible to come across dozens of articles like these in the archive. Whether it's a confession, a gaffe, or a surprise; move on. Democracy, it seems, was a tram in Istanbul.