Go and live in the forest, Turkish PM tells environmental activists
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bilkent City Hospital complex in Ankara. AA photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has strongly criticized environmental activists opposing the construction of a road through Ankara's Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) forested campus, advising them to go and live in forests if they did not want roads to be built.
“I noticed a placard today. ‘We want forests, not roads.’ Can something like that be? There are so many forests. You can’t get to your university if you have no roads. But if you want, we can send you to the forest. Go and live in forests,” Erdoğan said, in an address to his Justice and Development Party (AKP) provincial mayors on Sept. 18.
The road the prime minister mentioned is the disputed project passing through the ODTÜ campus, which caused opposition from both university students and residents of the Çukurambar district of Ankara. Police had intervened repeatedly with tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators last week.
“Roads made civilization. Whatever they say, we will not give up building roads. Because roads connect people,” Erdoğan said.
Recalling that similar demonstrations had occurred in June over the Gezi Park construction plans, he also described the protesters as “vandals” and “barbarians” and called on AKP mayors to be attentive to the possible reoccurring of such incidents.
“On March 30, we will have local elections. We have passed through three general and two local elections in the last 11 years, but I can assure you that this election on March 30 is the important one,” Erdoğan said, asking his mayors to work relentlessly to "prove once again the power of the people’s will."
“We will write another page of history on March 30,” he added.