Turkey’s economy tsar slams Los Angeles’ infrastructure, stirs up social media
In Los Angeles, "everything is crumbling," says Turkish Deputy Prime Ali Babacan (inset).The infrastructure needs of Los Angeles are greater than New Delhi, Turkey’s economy tsar Ali Babacan has said, triggering a debate on social media with sarcastic comments comparing the American city with Turkey’s troubled capital Ankara.
“I visited both Los Angeles and New Delhi over the past year. The infrastructure needs of Los Angeles are even greater than New Delhi. Roads, pavements, bridges, underpasses, everything is crumbling there,” said Deputy Prime Minister Babacan, speaking at the Developing Cities Summit in Turkey’s Aegean province of Balıkesir on May 7.
Babacan was referring to the American and Indian cities to argue that developed countries also fail in infrastructure investments. “When we said ‘infrastructure and investment,’ all G-20 countries began to discuss ‘what can we do?’” he said, referring to Turkey’s current presidency of the G-20.
Babacan’s remarks quickly became a hot topic on Turkish social media and Internet forums.
Some noted that the economy of Los Angeles, a city with a population lower than 4 million, is larger than the national economy of Turkey, where more than 77 million people live.
Others defended Babacan, pointing to a New York Times report from last year which suggested that “infrastructure cracks as Los Angeles defers repairs.”
The statement was particularly mocked by critics of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with many people sharing photos showing the chronic infrastructure problems in Ankara, which has long been an AKP-run municipality.
In his most recent feat, Ankara’s eccentric mayor Melih Gökçek (below) replaced a controversial Transformers-esque robot statue on a main intersection with dinosaur statues, which his municipality spent more than 8.5 million Turkish Liras on.