Aegean resort town Muğla opposes Ankara's decisions
Hosting Turkey’s most beautiful bays, on the routes of the famous Blue Voyage, the southwestern province Muğla has reservations against the recent protected area zone changes.
First, some background information: Mayor Gürün received a letter from the Environment Ministry about a month ago. It read: “Submit your views on the protected area rearrangement in your region.”
Instead of answering this request with a one-page letter, the mayor did something else. As a mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), instead of politicizing the incident, and instead of sending a written response from the Municipality Development Department, he did something very different.
He sent a note to all 66 members of the city council. He also provided information to all district municipalities in Muğla so they could review the arrangement on the map.
He convened the city council. By a unanimous vote, a report was requested from the Development Department.
The municipal council reconvened around 10 days ago. At the meeting it read the report prepared by the Development Department.
All members had an opportunity to ask questions, replies were given until each council member was satisfied. Then, again, the council reached a decision with a unanimous vote. “In the protected zones, those areas that have been changed to the D-1 category should be maintained in their current status,” it said.
Take note of this: The decision was made unanimously. In other words, members from the CHP, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) reached this decision unanimously.
The Muğla city council managed to rise above politics and made a decision for Muğla. This is what I would call “local governance awareness.”
They made no discrimination between the ruling party and the opposition parties. They say, “There is no political party or politics when it comes to coasts and natural beauties.”
It can be debated whether the decision is correct or not. What affected me most is that Mayor Gürün enabled the Muğla City Council to rise above politics and reach a consensus. Instead of being partisan, the council said “Muğla.”
There is only one thing to say to them: “Well done.”
On the map
The mayor and I looked at the map for the changes made by the Environment Ministry. If these protected areas are removed, there is a risk that places such as Gökova, Hisarönü and Göcek - which are on the famous Blue Voyage route of fabulous coasts - will be opened up to housing construction.
Gürün has examples that he can show on the map - such as Karaada in Bodrum and Adalıyalı – where that has happened.
Let’s see how the Environment Ministry to the Muğla Municipality’s reservation. Maybe it will not give an answer. If so, the minister will be in a situation where he does not pay attention to what the local government and the local people have to say. I don’t think Environment Minister Mehmet Özhaseki will choose to do that.
A middle way should be found. The ministry should very openly explain its reasons for the changes, which standards would apply and what it would cover. The ministry should state open whether there is a danger of these coasts becoming concrete forests.
After all, these shores are the future of all of us.