‘Protection unit’ proposed for Cappadocia

‘Protection unit’ proposed for Cappadocia

Aysel Alp – ANKARA
‘Protection unit’ proposed for Cappadocia

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has submitted a law proposal for the establishment of a commission that will deal with the protection of the famous Cappadocia region in the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir in parliament.

The commission which the AKP has named the “Cappadocia Area Commission” aims to take measures for the protection of the famous region in a faster way and cut the bureaucracy for those wanting to invest in the picturesque region, the party said in its proposal.

“Unfortunately illegal structures, structures that are not in line [with the region] have arisen there [in Cappadocia],” said AKP group deputy chair Mehmet Muş, referring to several illegal structures in the historical place that have been hitting the news lately.

“We have submitted a law proposal that seeks to establish an area presidency [the commission] in an attempt to prevent all these [illegal structures] and collect all the authority [regarding the area] in one hand. We’ll never make concessions for Cappadocia’s protection,” said Muş.

The illegal constructions in the region have come to the foreground after a story on daily Hürriyet warned of the worsening situation in November last year. Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum then had said that the illegal structures would be demolished, with Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy announcing that a commission would be established for a better protection of the region.

On May 8, the AKP submitted its relevant law tackling with the issue to parliament. 

The AKP said in the reasoning of their proposal that the existence of several authority units in the Cappadocia region leads to a “serious authority chaos and therefore a very lengthy and heavy bureaucracy procedure for the local people and investors.”

 The establishment of such a “protection commission” will produce “effective solutions” for the region’s needs, said the proposal.

If the law proposal is legalized, the authorities of the Conservation of Culture and Natural Property commissions will be passed on the newly established Cappadocia Area Commission. Every kind of decision that concerns constructions within the Cappadocia region will be taken by the new commission. And whom the commission will consist of will be determined by a regulation issued later.

The head of the Chamber of Architects, Eyüp Muhcu, said that the famous region had so far received many “damages” due to wrong implementations.

“Cappadocia has received big damages with the [implementation of] zoning amnesty [“imar barışı” in Turkish]. The amnesty has legalized illegal structures. Despite the justice rulings and the 2863 numbered Law on Conversation of Culture and Natural Property, which say that zoning amnesty cannot be applied on the protected areas, citizens continue to apply [to the authorities to get their buildings registered, which have been built without licenses or lack  proprietorship certificates],” said Muhcu.

“The Environment and Urbanization Ministry does not issue a statement that says, ‘No zoning amnesty application can be made for protected areas, farms lands, coastal areas and landslide sites, illegal structures at these places will be demolished.’ Application for these areas should not be accepted. But despite all these, the Cappadocia area presidency [the commission] should be immediately established and works for the protection for the region in a serious way should be launched,” said Muhcu.

 Cappadocia, famous for its underground cities, canyons, and houses carved into rock and volcanic cones called “fairy chimneys,” attracted more than two million tourists in 2018.

The area was also a religious center in the early periods of Christianity serving as a shelter and for prayer for Christians in the Roman era.

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