Idyllic beach of İztuzu won’t be sacrificed, vows environment minister

Idyllic beach of İztuzu won’t be sacrificed, vows environment minister

Erdinç Çelikkan ANKARA
Idyllic beach of İztuzu won’t be sacrificed, vows environment minister Turkish Environment and Urban Planning Minister İdris Güllüce has sought to assure concerned citizens that his institution will not sacrifice the idyllic beach of İztuzu, renowned for being one of the most important breeding areas for loggerhead turtles (caretta caretta), for "a few sunbeds."

“We cannot sacrifice our turtles for a few sunbeds, a buffet, a restaurant, and a place selling tea,” Güllüce said. “Due to the characteristic of the region there should be no commercial facilities.”

Sunbeds are an important reason for the decrease in loggerhead turtles coming to the beach, he added, following a meeting on the issue with scientists.

Commenting on the decision forbidding the usage of sunbeds in only a part of the beach, Güllüce said one could not tell the turtles to only lay their eggs in certain parts of the beach.

“Scientists said ‘where do you know where the turtles lay their eggs?’ A corridor has been formed in the region; ‘sunbeds could be put behind [the corridor]’ has been said. How do you know where the turtles are going? Are we to say, ‘Don’t come up to here, turtle brother, look we’ve erected a border, you shouldn’t come any further than that’ to the turtles?” said Güllüce, adding that the loggerhead turtles had become a "mascot for Turkey."

Facilities at the idyllic beach were controversially privatized, despite locals’ opposition last June, but the operations were recently suspended by a court order over a lawsuit opened by activists.

Hours after the first stay of execution order was lifted on Dec. 28, 2014, officials from DALÇEV, the local company that won the tender with a bid worth 8 million Turkish Liras, entered the beach with construction machines around midnight, prompting a spontaneous rally. In the meantime, a local court also ordered the suspension of the deal in a separate lawsuit between the governor’s office and the local municipality, further complicating the judicial battle.

The protesters’ numbers grew on New Years’ Eve, as they braved the cold weather gripping Turkey. On Jan. 6, the Muğla Governor’s Office communicated a new stay of execution order to DALÇEV, requesting that it not proceed with the takeover of the site.

Activists announced on Jan. 9 that they would temporarily halt their action after the new court order, but vowed to return if the privatization is again given the go-ahead.