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Governor, minister deny destruction in Abant

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 4/18/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Culture Minister Günay and Bolu Gov. Halil İbrahim Akpınar have both denied claims of hotel construction and environmental destruction in the Abant Natural Park area.

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay and Bolu Gov. Halil İbrahim Akpınar have both categorically denied claims of hotel construction and environmental destruction in the Abant Natural Park area.

According to Günay, the ministry has not given permission for any hotel construction project in the Abant area and does not have information on the work reportedly going on at the popular nature and recreation site in the northern province of Bolu, daily Hürriyet reported Friday.

“The ministry’s technical crew undertook an examination of the area upon the application of the Bolu governor’s office for converting the Abant Natural Park’s immediate surroundings into a tourist site,” Günay said. “We will decide after the examinations are concluded. There is no permission granted for construction access through the park.”

Gov. Halil İbrahim Akpınar also spoke out about the issue, daily Milliyet reported Sunday. “Nobody has done anything [in Abant] in the last 10 years but talk. We are doing our best to beautify the environment with rearrangements,” the governor said. “If someone had made a fuss about the extinction of crocus flowers, there would be no Atatürk Dam today.”

According to Akpınar, the road being constructed has nothing to do with the hotel project, which he said is outside the boundaries of the natural park. “We will make [Abant] more beautiful than even Davos,” he said, referring to the large ski resort in Switzerland.

Environmental scientists and representatives of nongovernmental organizations have come together and started a Web site, www.abantyokoluyor.com, to protest what they call the “environmental massacre” in Abant. They are also engaged in a legal struggle to stop construction work in the area.

According to Professor Barbaros Çetin from Ankara University, who consulted on the development plan, the work is against the country’s environmental laws. “Violating these laws is against international agreements and the legislation of the Republic of Turkey,” he said.

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