Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sudden disappearance for three days during the Eid al-Fitr holiday had raised questions about his health, prompting rumors that he had been hospitalized, but it turned out to that he was vacationing in one of Turkey’s most popular resort towns, Bodrum, where he held inspections of urban sprawl.
Erdoğan said Aug. 15 that he was fine and had rested for a few days but he had also worked, observing the terrible situation on the shores of Bodrum.
“This much unjustness is not acceptable. Development has almost expanded into the sea. There is not even a coastline. Housing will be in the sea in the next step if this continues,” Erdoğan said in an interview with daily Hürriyet.
Erdoğan was accompanied by Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar on his trip to the coast. Erdoğan said they also observed the coastline from a helicopter to examine the area well.
“The situation is catastrophic. We witnessed the sensitivity of those repeating the word environment all around,” Erdoğan said.
Support and criticism
The Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will work together and all of the coastline will be examined, Erdoğan added.
“It is not understandable how the local municipalities stood idle while these buildings were constructed. They may face legal prosecutions, and they may lose their posts. We are immediately starting inspections and punishments,” Erdoğan said.
The most important point, Erdoğan said, was that these buildings would be demolished and the Muğla Governor’s Office would provide police forces.
Erdoğan’s statements made a tremendous impact in Bodrum, Muğla. Bodrum Mayor Mehmet Kocadon said most of the development on the coastline had been approved by the Tourism and Culture Ministry, Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Environment. Bodrum Architecture Chamber head Cevat Kalfa said more than 50 percent of the buildings in the region were on state land.
“These were already approved by officials. Buildings are approved by the Environment and Forestry ministries while projects are approved by the Ministry of Culture,” Kalfa said.
The change in the law in May is the issue, Kalfa said, since the buildings were built in legal compliance but now they seem illegal.
Filiz Dindar, representative of the “Blue Path Initiative” (Mavi Yol Girişişimi), said she was surprised that the prime minister had just become aware of the issue since the problem had escalated for years.
“We are struggling for Bodrum for years, saying the same things. What has changed now?” she said.
All the coasts have been sold to private companies and to hotels and these are all approved by ministries, Dindar said.
Hurriyet Daily News, August/17/2013