Having lost the Istanbul municipal elections, the ruling party has still found a way to retrieve control of the Bosphorus. The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization has drafted a 28-point legislative proposal it called the Bosphorus Law. With this law, the Istanbul Metropolitan would lose its authority over the Bosphorus. Instead, a new Bosphorus Chairmanship and two committees would be conferred control over it.
With the new regulation, the Bosphorus Chairmanship and the Bosphorus Culture and Nature Assets Protection and Regulation Committees are established. All of which would be run by the President’s men.
When the news first broke out, it was widely said that Erdoğan was taking back the elections he had lost. Yet Erdoğan is not not the only one involved.
What happened to Göreme Valley National Park?
Last week, Turkey’s Göreme Valley ceased to be national park. The reason for this was the foundation of the “Cappadocia Area Chairmanship”, its full name being the Law Regarding Cappadocia. The law, which was passed in parliament last May, places Cappadocia under the full reign of the Chairman. Yücel Menekşe, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) from Nevşehir, said that the new Area Chairmanship would consist of four provinces and nine towns.
This Cappadocia Area Law heralded the Bosphorus Area Law which was a gift from our representatives to the Presidency regime, especially on the part of the opposition.
CHP: Long live to the area chairmanship regime
The-12 point Cappadocia Area Law Draft was passed with only 10 “no” votes and 237 “yes” votes. The AKP and its ally MHP, who hold 291 seats together, voted 237 “yes” while only 10 from the opposition, who hold 300 seats, voted “no”. They are very reluctant about voting “no”.
An MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and representing the province of Adana argue the Cappadocia Area Law should be extended to Turkey’s 16 other geoparks.
The CHP, which supported the bill in the General Assembly, did not vote. No CHP MPs voted against it. The 10 “no” votes came from members of the İYİ party.
The CHP MP from Nevşehir pledged to take the matter to court once the Göreme Valley loses its status with the adoption of the new law.
The reality of construction projects
The CHP’s main problem is that it cannot distinguish itself from the AKP in the political space. The party doesn’t to anything unless society does. When was the last time the CHP wrote a bill from its own initiative just to inform the public.
Could it not predict that the Cappadocia Area Chairmanship would help the construction sector. The public as well as contractors themselves know that construction projects worth billions of Turkish lira are behind this bill. New roads, which will cost 4 billion lira are to be built. A highway that began to be built in 2018 and which connects Ankara to Niğde, passing through Göreme, will also cost around 4 billion Turkish lira. The 330 kilometre-long highway will be start operating in 2020.
This is something the opposition has completely refrained from discussing.
Trustees for the Bosphorus
It is very clear that the had CHP fully the Cappadocia Area Chairmanship. As Ekrem İmamoğlu was running to be mayor of Istanbul, CHP members of parliament explicitly backed the Cappadocia Law. Emboldened by this success, the AKP came up with the Bosphorus Law.
The CHP has not been able to stop a legislation for a long time. It has not drafted any bills supported by society either. While the public prevented olive groves and forages from opening up to construction through the government’s Production Reform Package in 2017, the CHP was conspicuously absent. Instead, it only engages in populist policies, with little concern for democracy. In the face of Selahattin Demirtaş being sent to jail, troops being sent to other countries and democratically elected mayors are replaced with state-appointed trustees. For instance, the mayor of Cizre, who was ousted and replaced with trustees, had been elected with 77 percent of the votes.
As citizens, we are deeply discontented about the CHP turning its back to such environmental issues. Some members of the CHP themselves are dissatisfied with the situation. The local elections testified to the weak standing of the government.
Today, Ankara is not Wuhan. Wuhan is a good example compared to our capital city. Today, Ankara is a construction site. Ankara residents have to remind the city again that they do not want a municipal administration that works for contractors — alongside a presidential system that works for contractors.
This good news about the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea at the same time means a disaster for the environment. Turkey is a country in which environmental protection standards are very low, and it cannot control even this. This project will be the end of the Black Sea.
As Turkish politics have been reduced to a binary dichotomy between the government bloc and the opposition, İYİ Party plays a somewhat unifying and dampening effect in that regard. But while the government is out of touch with the people, the opposition is not tuned in with it either.
In the past four months, none of our municipalities prepared the infrastructure for washing our hands. They were not able to meet the sidewalk conditions of 1.5 meters width for the social distancing of pedestrians. Almost all of our 1,397 municipalities have failed according to these criteria, including opposition ones.
Even though there are now 163,000 cases detected in Turkey and even more cases that are undetected, the malls are opening. At what cost and for whose sake they are opening? It is quite apparent that they are not opening for our sake; the data is clear. When you review the equation from the point of view of the novel coronavirus, then you have five huge reasons not to step inside these malls.
In Turkey, the pandemic seems to have also opened asphalt season for some local administrations. Municipalities regarded this period as a huge opportunity to pave asphalt.
The Energy Ministry’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan tells us a lot about the government's intentions. It is obviously a plan that still insists on coal and hydroelectric power policies, and that has solar and wind energy only as an accessory. The climate crisis is not even mentioned.
The first coronavirus month in Turkey will be recorded in history as the month of opportunism, the month of abusing a pandemic. It kept some of its people at home and others at mines and factories, turning the country into a labor camp. Only the local administrations were left, but there were policies to curb their powers as well.
As a host to 85 percent of all international travels, Istanbul has become an attraction center for coronavirus. And as a host to 38 percent of Turkey’s domestic travels, Istanbul spread the virus to the rest of the country.
The Turkish government has not taken steps related to the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak. They actually took steps in the opposite direction asking people to do their own homework and resisting a total lockdown in the country. Meanwhile, the opposition self-quarantined itself politically.
Both the stage that the capitalism has reached globally and Turkey’s implementation of it, cannot be neglected while discussing the underlying factors which tie the climate crisis and the COVID-19 outbreak to each other.
In 2019, the number of issues broke the record with 935 extreme meteorological issues recorded in Turkey. That's 9 times the overall number recorded for the second half of the 20th century. Last year, floods occurred in cities including Ordu, Düzce, Trabzon, Antalya and Mersin that cost the lives of many people.
While Russia needs to sell its energy to Turkey, the US must stay within the Middle East to get its oil. That is why they are both seeking Turkey on their side.At the moment, Turkey is paying for the Syrian war with its loved ones and poverty. It is only by achieving peace with its neighbors that we can attain a win-win situation.
Thanks to a Special Communication Tax that was introduced after the 1999 earthquake, some 67.5 billion Turkish Liras have been collected up to now for earthquake relief. But rather than on earthquake preparedness, the money was largely spent on construction projects.
Kanal Istanbul is a project based on unjust profit-earning that is well-known first to Turkish companies, followed by Arab, European, and even Pakistani capital owners. But we still don’t know the full truth of what is going on with the project. Good that we do not know, because if we did, the Kanal Istanbul project would end immediately.
According to OECD data, Turkey allocated 289 million dollars for waste management in 2008. Ever since, the country has developed and grown, right? Despite this, the money allocated for waste management fell to 147 million dollars in 2015. We have a government that does not want to manage waste and spend money on it. Burying trash is easy; the soil is free.
President Erdoğan's government recently suffered two fiascos, one involved thermal power plants while the other had to do with a plan to rescue the private company “Simit Sarayı”. So why would it press forward with the Kanal Istanbul project?
It is possible for us to close down all coal mines! The way to this has been paved with the veto on the proposed bill. But if we leave public policy unattended and representatives continue to leave parliament seats empty, the opposite will happen. I should point out as a warning that, just like the Environment and City Planning Minister could actually be referring to the business schedule when he says “we installed a filter in 6 months,” a similar wordplay could be at hand with the veto. We will go after the answer together, I promise.
We know how much the ministry earned from shopping bags in the first nine months of the year. At 25 kuruş (cents) for each nylon bag, 15 kuruş were deposited to the ministry and the total was 188 million lira. You heard it right, 18.8 billion kuruş.
The Ministry of Forestry routinely opens up forest ecosystems for economic exploitation. It distributes permits to use forests for mineral exploitation, mining, construction and even for oil drilling. In 2012, 2,810 permits were granted for those purposes. Between 2012 and 2018, that number rose to 18,515.
Volkswagen's investment plan in Turkey is a scandal. It is no less than an attempt to rescue a drowning company ensnared in corruption. While the Turkish public will bear the economic costs of this plan, environmental damage will also be caused.
Erdoğan changed the climate of the UN Climate Action Summit. He talked about how he multiplied fossil fuels and how not recycling waste is a good thing, and he put concrete as a policy on the world stage.
Turkey wants to be a party to the Paris Agreement as the structure of the deal allows countries to increase emissions. Turkey, which is among the 12 countries that have not yet joined the agreement, had added 193.5 million tons to climate changing greenhouse gases in last 20 years before 2010.