Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says ride-hailing app Uber no longer exists in his country. His statement comes after Istanbul taxi drivers called for the service to be banned.
The ride-hailing service Uber no longer exists in Turkey and the country will rely only on its own official taxi system from now on, the Turkish president said in a statement.
"This thing called Uber emerged. That business is finished. That does not exist anymore," he said, adding: "We have our taxi system."
He also said that just because Uber was used in some European countries, it did not mean that Turkey had to follow suit.
His comments, made in a late night speech on Friday in Istanbul, come after taxi drivers in the same city put pressure on the government to have Uber banned, saying it provided an illegal service. Erdogan, who is running for re-election in three weeks, is backed by the main taxi associations.
New regulations have recently been announced by the Turkish government that make it more difficult for drivers to register with Uber and threaten a two-year ban for violations.
Uber has said that it is committed to working in Turkey and that it is operating within the law.
"We want to work in cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders to improve transportation options in Turkey and we are committed long-term to Turkey, to the end, as a loyal partner," it said in a statement issued this week after the new licensing regulations were announced.
Istanbul has some 17,400 official yellow taxis operating, but critics say that Uber has managed to gain a foothold because of their poor quality service and overcharging. Yellow cab drivers in their turn accuse Uber of being "pirates" who are stealing their livelihood.
Uber has often faced stiff opposition from taxi companies in various cities around the world and has also experienced its share of scandals, including over its handling of sexual harassment cases at the company.
tj/rc (AFP, Reuters)