The Interior Ministry on Tuesday launched an investigation into Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan after his radical decision to hike certain prices for foreigners was met by public outcry.
Bolu Municipal Council, led by Özcan, passed a law enforcing an elevenfold increase in water bills and an outrageous markup in fees to perform marriage ceremonies for foreigners.
At the second municipal council meeting on Monday, a draft was accepted that proposed increasing the cost of water to $2.5 (TL 32) per cubic meter for foreigners and charging a whopping TL 100,000 ($8,516) to officiate civil marriages.
The draft was passed with the approval of the Nation Alliance in the council, which consists of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good Party (IP).
“Are our foreign asylum seekers disturbed by this? If so, water is cheaper in Damascus. Here you go. Wedding fees are also cheap in Damascus,” Özcan said on Tuesday.
“It is said that we discriminate. The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey is clear. The Constitution binds the citizens of the Republic of Turkey. There is no such thing that foreigners and Turkish citizens will be equal. Those who have obtained a residence permit will be affected by this increase. There is a group under temporary protection by the United Nations and those who have gained refugee or immigrant status in Turkey in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention will not be affected by this.”
Ministry sources told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the decision will be evaluated in line with the principles of “equality before the law” from Article 10 of the Constitution and “equality and prohibition of discrimination” mentioned in Articles 3 and 5 of the Turkish Human Rights and Equality Institution Law. Article 122 from the Turkish Penal Code on “hate and discrimination,” Article 216 on “provoking the people toward enmity and hostility” and Article 257 on “misconduct” will also be taken into account while reviewing the mayor’s actions.