Court decision to halt construction of Prime Ministry in Atatürk Forest Farm
Melis ALPHAN ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Hürriyet PhotoThe construction of a new Prime Ministry complex in Ankara’s Atatürk Forest Farm has been halted, after a court ruled to uphold the protected status of the site, daily Hürriyet has reported.
The Ankara Regional Natural Reserves Commission had reduced the degree of protection for the forest’s seven hectares on Feb. 2, 2012, paving the way for the construction of a “White House”-style complex for the Turkish prime minister.
After the Architects’ Chamber, the Chamber of Environmental Engineers, the Chamber of Urban Planners, the Chamber of Landscape Architects and the Chamber of Agricultural Engineers filed a complaint against the Culture Ministry to cancel the decision, the Prime Ministry intervened in the case to stand by the ministry.
However, the court passed judgment on March 4 and upheld the protected status of the site. According to the law, the construction must be halted and the already-built structures must be razed.
The court said in its reasoning that before the removal of the natural site status of the area, no examinations, research or investigations were carried out and no expert opinions had been taken regarding the status of the area. The court also said no reasoning was stated when the Culture and Natural Assets Protection Board demanded the removal of the natural site status of the farm. The court said the Commission did not cite any research or investigation to decide that the area in question did not have any historic features.
“It is evident that when the historic site status is evaluated … elements such as the psychical structure, its aesthetics, functional value, cultural situation, monumental or memorial structure, the questions of whether it was the site of social incidents or whether any historical incidents took place there must be considered. However, none of these elements were evaluated [by the Commission]”, the court stated in its reasoning.
The head of the Ankara 11th Administrative Court, Eyüp Kaya, did not join the other two members of the court in the decision. Kaya said it was understood that there had been no significant event regarding the history of humanity, wars or national history at the site, or event that was significant for the establishment of the Turkish Republic.”
The defendants in the case, the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Prime Ministry, will have to appeal the court’s decision within one month in order to continue with the construction. The Council of State will discuss the issue if the two ministries appeal the decision.
Often referred to as “the lungs of Ankara,” the forest is an expansive recreational farming area that houses a zoo, several small agricultural farms, greenhouses, restaurants, a dairy farm and a brewery. The farm’s name is a tribute to its founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The Court of Accounts had earlier stated in a 2012 report that the historic farm and the heritage of Atatürk had been misused.