Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan made a plea for urban transformation during a meeting in Istanbul's Gazioşmanpaşa district. AA photo
Economic and social factors such as poverty, unemployment, bad housing and urban sprawl have been important factors that have fed terrorism year after year, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
said in Istanbul today.
Speaking during an event in Gazioşmanpaşa district to preside over the demolition of hundreds of homes – ostensibly for the purposes of constructing modern housing in their place – Erdoğan made a connection between terrorism and bad urbanization.
“While in the east our soldiers and police officers fought terrorism, [previous governments] did nothing about the poverty, unemployment and discrimination that terrorist groups abused. They shut their eyes to the migration to big cities while they were building shanty houses. Urban sprawl became places of abuse that hid terrorism,” Erdoğan said, emphasizing that young people with no hope for the future became vulnerable targets of such groups. “We will transform those swamps into rose and tulip gardens.”
Erdoğan also responded to criticism about the 63-member Wise Persons’ Commission that held its first meeting on April 4 as part of its task of overseeing a peace process to end the Kurdish issue.
Erdoğan repeated that the seven groups of wise people that will visit each of Turkey’s seven regions to discuss the peace process would be free to do their own planning.
“We did not force them. But some seem very upset. Some cry out that they are not in the group, others are jealous. We are bustling about doing something to stop mothers’ tears, but some are still trying to gain [political] benefit,” he said. Istanbul ‘overpopulated’
A former Istanbul mayor, Erdoğan also argued that Turkey’s fabled metropolis was too populous. “When I became mayor [in 1994], 8 million people lived in Istanbul. Now it’s 14 million. Is this how it should be? I don’t think so. We have to find a solution for migration,” he said.
The Turkish prime minister also criticized construction companies for building skyscrapers and tall buildings that now cover the entire Istanbul skyline, arguing that buildings should not be taller than four or five floors.
“We have to attach importance to aesthetics. You will tell me that 40- or 50-story buildings can de aesthetic, too. They can, I won’t deny it. But humans should live near the soil,” he said.