Turkish president meets chamber head amid bill controversy

Turkish president meets chamber head amid bill controversy

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish president meets chamber head amid bill controversy

President Adullah Gül is still yet to approve the omnibus bill that curbs the authority of professional chambers, including TMMOB. AA photo

President Abdullah Gül has met with the head of the Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB) regarding an omnibus bill curbing the authority of professional chambers in planning decisions and transferring it to ministries or boards.

Mehmet Soğancı, the head of TMMOB, asked Gül to veto the bill that will restrict the chambers’ authority over urban planning projects. The bill was passed by ruling Justice and Development Party votes in Parliament on July 9.

TMMOB called on Gül July 18 not to approve the article in the omnibus bill, which it said took “the union’s authority to control the technical qualities for projects as a non-governmental professional body and gives it to the Environment Ministry, thus government itself.”

TMMOB considers the bill to be a punishment by the government for its support for the recent Gezi Park protests, which were sparked by opposition to the government’s plan to turn a park next to Istanbul’s Taksim Square into a mall complex.

The omnibus bill proposal eliminates occupational chambers from any future city-planning procedures, removing the obligation of the chambers’ approval for projects, according to TMMOB.

The regulations transfer complete control to related institutions, leaving all decisions to the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry and removing the need for any supervision or involvement from TMMOB. TMMOB’s Istanbul head, Mücella Yapıcı, has been a leading figure in the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which is accused of instigating the Gezi protests. The protests spread into one of the biggest country-wide civil protest movements in history.