Meetings with far-right Turkish politicians land Saint-Josse mayor in hot water

Meetings with far-right Turkish politicians land Saint-Josse mayor in hot water
Mayor Emir Kir, a member of the Parti Socialiste, has twice met with Turkish politicians belonging to an ultranationalist, far-right party. © Belga

A Brussels municipal mayor will appear before members of his Francophone socialist party to explain a series of "pleasant" meetings he held with far-right Turkish politicians.

The Parti Socialiste (PS)' surveillance committee was seized by a party member and asked to summon Saint-Josse Mayor Emir Kir, who in December met with a group Turkish politicians, including two belonging to a far-right Turkish ultranationalist party.

"Refusing to banalise or normalise far-right parties or ideas, as well as strictly adhering to the cordon-sanitaire, must remain absolute necessities within our political movement," party member Jérémie Tojerow wrote on Twitter.

Kir, who was born in Charleroi from Turkish parents, said it had been "pleasant" to receive the Turkish politicians at Saint-Josse's town hall, in a meeting which marks the second time Kir meets with a member of Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

In 2018, Kir had travelled to Turkey to meet with a former town mayor belonging to the MHP, a fiercely nationalist and euroskeptical party with close links to the Grey Wolves, a political youth group which has been described as neo-fascist and is often seen as the MHP's youth militant wing.

The December meeting had sparked indignation within other Saint-Josse officials, who called the meeting at the town hall "unacceptable" because it bypassed the cordon sanitaire, a symbolic agreement to never mingle with the far-right, to which many Belgian political parties adhere to.

"I asked for this meeting not to take place," Saint-Josse alderwoman Zoé Genot told Bruzz. "A meeting with a far-right major is impossible, regardless of his nationality."

Following news of the Turkish mayor's visit to Saint-Josse, who Kir's spokesperson said had been arranged in the framework of their visit to the European institutions, the PS' Brussels section had said that it "did not condone" the meeting, BX1 reports.

"We could never accept that some of our politicians display sympathies for elected Vlaams Belang officials or that they 'pleasantly' meet with representatives of the [Rassemblement National]," Tojerow wrote on Twitter, referring to the French far-right party led by Marine Le Pen.

The PS' surveillance committee is charged with deciding whether an elected representative follows the statutes of the party and can decide to exclude members in "extreme cases," PS spokesperson Julian Schaak told Bruzz, adding that it was unlikely that that would be the case for Kir.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.