We would even demolish a mosque to build a road: Turkish PM
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AA photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reaffirmed his government’s determination to go ahead with construction projects that have generated harsh criticism particularly from environmentalists, while accusing protesters blocking the construction of engaging in banditry.
“We are serving the public, not the individual,” Erdoğan said, in response to criticism over the third Bosphorus Bridge based on the bridge’s likely adverse effect on the forests to the north of the city and the wildlife depending on these forests.
“Everything can be sacrificed for roads, because roads are civilization. But those who are not civilized do not know the roads’ value. In our values, roads do not recognize any obstacle. Even if there is a mosque in front of a road, we would demolish that mosque and rebuild it somewhere else,” Erdoğan said, as he also referred to protests against the removal of hundreds of trees for a road construction passing through the campus of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ). “We won’t stop because somebody says so. Bandits used to block roads in the past, now modern bandits are blocking the roads.”
The prime minister also used the opportunity to attack the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) which he said was opposing the plans regarding ODTÜ not with a constructive understanding, but rather with an understanding fed by “corruption.”
CHP’s response to this accusation came at the leadership level later in the day as party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the municipality had been using brute force to enter the university due to the inadequacy of its experience and capacity to do it another way.
“Those living in the forest also use brute force. Raiding a public institution in the middle of the night, isn’t that plain banditry?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked, referring to the municipality’s midnight raid at the campus on the last day of religious feast. “The fact that you have to enter with a baton in your hand shows that you are no real man.”
According to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş, both what had been happening at the ODTÜ campus and the third bridge construction were “disasters showing the government’s view of local governance.”
“Can raiding a university in the night be a mayoral action? They could only enter ODTÜ fearfully in the night. The prime minister and one of his ministers have said they will plant more trees than they cut down. This is their point of view, all they see when they see trees is wood,” Demirtaş said Oct.22, addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his party.
Paralleling the debate at leadership level, members of the Cabinet defended the legality and legitimacy of the road project and cutting of trees at the ODTÜ campus with various arguments.
Interior Minister Muammer Güler said that the road-works of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality were completely within the confines of the law. Güler said that any complaints about the road-works must go through administrative procedures. Upon being reminded of the return of funds transferred to ODTÜ from the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality in restitution for felled trees, Güler stated that no one had the right to return funds transferred between public institutions.
Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, meanwhile, refuted claims that the ODTÜ road-works’ zoning plan contained plans for a shopping mall.
Bayraktar said, “There is no shopping center in our plans, just a little mosque, that is it. You can demolish a house, a cemetery for a road. The path of the roads is definite. This road will serve for 1,000 years. Two thousand years.”