Cihan Başakçıoğlu / DUVAR

The Akbük village in the Aegean province of Muğla was transferred to the Muğla Tourism Environment Foundation (MUÇEV), a company close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The right to operate the parking lot in the village and manage a large parcel of forestland for 20 years was granted to MUÇEV, a development that renewed controversy surrounding the supposed foundation. 

MUÇEV was established after the local elections in 2014 through a protocol between the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning and the AKP-led Muğla governorate. In April of that year, the protocol was quickly approved by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Though MUÇEV has the word “foundation” in its name, it is actually registered as a company under the legal name MUÇEV Tourism Commerce LLC. 

Property transferred to MUÇEV earned the company 18,532,000 lira between 2014 and 2018, according to responses granted to parliamentary questions.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor Mustafa Aytaç Kavak of the Menteşe district, in which Akbük is located, characterized the company’s explanation that the money was used for cleaning and protecting the area as comical. 

“It is essential to ensure that the public benefits from the coasts by allocating the coastal strips to local administrations. All of the services pertaining to these coastal areas are provided by the municipalities. In spite of this, the revenue from the region is going to MUÇEV. Furthermore, the new regulations aim to prevent the municipalities from maintaining these areas,” said CHP Muğla deputy Süleyman Girgin.

The opposition has accused the AKP of using MUÇEV to seize coastal areas that are governed by CHP leadership.