ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
As debates over municipality-led violence against alcohol venders continue, the Greater Ankara Municipality has sparked more controversy by deciding to form a �night inspection team� to monitor cafes and restaurants that sell alcohol.
The Justice and Development Party, or AKP-run Ankara municipality in a meeting June 11 made a decision to establish the team in order to control cafes, restaurants, bars, discos and shops that operate after midnight, daily Milliyet reported Friday.
The aim is to inspect enterprises to identify whether they obey the laws in terms of opening and closing times, health rules, noise limits and fire safety regulations. The decision was passed by the municipal council with votes of AKP members and some main opposition party members.
The decision is a result of complaints made by citizens, according to Mayor Melih Gökçek. He said the project was aimed at providing safety and peace in the capital.
The Çankaya Municipality, however, claimed the move revealed the municipality's hidden intention to ban alcohol in the capital and said it would take the issue to court.
�The move is the reflection of the attitude displayed by the ruling party, which is so reluctant to fulfill the different needs of the society's various segments,� the Çankaya Municipality said in a written statement released Friday.
The decision would lead to a series of undesirable results in the future and would create social paranoia, the statement argued. �It is also the duty of the local municipalities to inspect enterprises, not the metropolitan municipality's. If it were the legal duty of the metropolitan municipality, Gökçek then committed crime for not doing so during his 15-year term,� it added.
Speaking to the Turkish Daily News, former Ankara Mayor Murat Karayalçın, who is also the leader of the Social Democratic People's Party, or SHP, said the municipality's decision was heavy-handed and reflected a fascist approach.
�The term �night inspection team' is itself very eerie. Has there been any problem with the laws so far on the alcohol issue that the municipality tries to launch new initiatives via such mysterious and imposing methods?� he asked.
�There are already municipal police who are assigned to identify any violation on the issue and make an inspection. The laws are also pretty clear and definite on the issues mentioned in the municipal decision (which gave no place to bring extra measures).�
The laws on the consumption of alcohol have become much harsher in the capital during the rule of the conservative ruling party, Karayalçın argued. The recent Keçiören incident, in which a shopkeeper was beaten up by municipal police allegedly for selling alcohol after 11 p.m., and the government's earlier plan to establish a separate zone outside the city center where all the venues selling alcoholic beverage will be placed were simply the few among many others.
�Ankara and Keçiören mayors are big rivals but act in the same route.�
For Yılmaz Ateş, deputy leader of Republican People's Party, or CHP, the issue had other implications that go beyond the issue of alcohol.
�It isn't solely about an alcohol problem; it is an initiative that sought to violate and use the legal responsibilities of the local municipalities who had the right to carry out inspection,� he said. �Gökçek acts in a dictatorial way via such illegal decisions.�
Daily Akşam, meanwhile, reported yesterday that the ruling party would prolong the political life of two controversial names, Gökçek and Keçiören Mayor Turgut Altınok, in the new term. Gökçek will run for the post of Ankara mayor while Altınok, who was under fire for use of violence targeted at alcohol vendors in his district, will compete for Keçiören in the upcoming local elections in 2009.