Anti-Turkey Brussels mayor steps down

DAILY SABAH WITH REUTERS
ISTANBUL
Published 09.06.2017 21:48

The mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, who made headlines in April with his controversial attitude toward Turkey ahead of its constitutional referendum, submitted his resignation Thursday after a parliamentary report revealed that he had been paid to attend meetings of an agency for the city's homeless without providing proof such meetings ever took place. The report led to calls from across the political spectrum, even from those within Mayeur's Socialist Party, for him to step down. "The mayor will offer his resignation this evening," his spokeswoman said.

A report by the Brussels regional parliament found that Mayeur had received up to 18,900 euros per year to attend board meetings at the Samu Social agency on top of the salary he received as mayor.

The agency's board could not provide any proof to the Brussels government of such meetings effectively taking place, saying they sometimes were conducted on the phone, a report seen by Reuters said.

Samu Social provides support as well as emergency housing in winter to the homeless population of Brussels.

The mayor of Brussels, the largest of 19 districts in the capital region, told French-language daily Le Soir in an interview published Thursday that the payments were not out of line.

"I'm a social worker, it is not charity. It is a real job," he said.

Mayeur was one of the European mayors who sparked crises between Turkey and several European countries by banning meetings of Turkish government officials in Europe during Turkey's referendum campaign. He drew criticism from Brussels's Turkish community after he permitted associations linked to the PKK to continue activities.

In 2016, on the eve of a Turkey-EU summit, Mayeur allowed PKK to erect tents near the European Council building in Brussels.

Later, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu criticized Belgium for tolerating terrorist groups, saying that they deserve to be treated just like Daesh, and that failing to do so would be a double standard.

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