Turkey’s coasts, bays, and ecosystems are undergoing a process of accelerated destruction. The process is even more painful to witness than revelations of government corruption, because we know that what is being done, cannot be undone. Whatever is being smothered in concrete will be snuffed out.
Here is the latest on the state of said destruction:
The bays and islands of Göcek, a small town in the Fethiye district in the southwest province of Muğla, are world famous. The Yassıcalar Islands sit in the Göçek Bay, which is a special protection area (SİT) and is open to the public. The bay has exceptional beaches, pine and olive trees, and a small lake. There was a small business there for years in a makeshift hut run by a local family.
The Fethiye Municipality demolished the hut on April 9. Three weeks ago, the Office of the Muğla Governor, Provincial Directorate of Environment and Urbanization issued a statement saying it had seen the illegal construction and reported it to the municipality.
Any construction or private initiative that has a potential to damage SİT areas is explicitly prohibited. The now-demolished hut run by the family was also illegal, but during the 19 years this government has been in power, we have learned to be skeptical of every step taken in the name of ‘protection.’ Especially if the Muğla Directorate of Environment and Urbanization is involved. You might be wondering why.
In Muğla, one of the most beautiful places in the Aegean, there is a horrible nature and coastal pillage happening. Those who are curious can take a look at the website of Muğla Environmental Platform (MUÇEP) established in cooperation with architects, civil society organizations, lawyers, activists and local people.
MUÇEP is struggling against a strong competitor: the Muğla Tourism and Environment Foundation (MUÇEV), a limited company.
The company was established via a 50 percent partnership between the Turkish Environmental Protection Foundation (TUÇEV) of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and the Muğla’s Service Foundation of the Muğla Governorate. Its mission is to end the illegal coastal occupations, make them public, and to clean them up. They also focus on renting out those coastal businesses via government tenders, which have the right to operate on the beaches. Its management is made up of bureaucrats from the ministry, the Office of the President, and different public institutions. It has overtaken more than 14 beaches in Muğla, as well as management of 11 beaches in Antalya, Alanya, and Edirne’s Keşan district.
A controversy happened last year when a report stated that the “yacht docking place” in Marmaris and a pier in Fethiye both did not require an Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report. Now, the right to manage the coastal spot where that shed was demolished has been given to other individuals.
It is not a suitable area to build a luxury hotel or the like. However, it is an extraordinary stop for yachts. Certain luxury lodges, a marina, and a chic facility would fit perfect. That is exactly the project that was prepared in the days surrounding the shed demolition.
The illegal barrack will soon be demolished and replaced with a new business such and luxurious lodges, as is stated in the project submitted to MUÇEV for the Yassıcalar Islands.
There are plans to convert the islands into an expensive facility with a pier and lodges where luxury yachts can dock. In other words, the islands, where construction is forbidden, are now open to construction. MUÇEV apparently has the right to operate on this place. Let’s now look at who made the project.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Muğla deputy Süleyman Girgin submitted a written question to the parliament on May 5, 2021, asking the Minister of Environment and Urbanization Murat Kurum to answer whether Karataş Beach in Fethiye had been put out to tender. He also asked this question: “To whom, under what conditions, and for how long were the Yassıcalar Islands in Göçek rented out?
MUÇEV neither publicly announces its tenders nor explains to whom it rents them. The written questions of deputy Girgin have not yet been answered. There are, however, some allegations concerning the project holders. One name mentioned is Serdal Adalı, the owner of Adalı Holding. Apparently Adalı may be the one to use this place for yacht tourism. The law firm that carried out the transfer of the right to operate to Adalı is BBS Consulting. Its owner, Ahmet Şafak Kuş, is quite familiar to us. We know his name because he was the partner of Barış Güler, the son of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler. Barış Güler was detained in 2013, but the cases were later dropped on the grounds that they were ‘Gülenist’ plots. In 2011, Barış Güler and Ahmet Şafak Kuş founded BBS Consulting Real Estate Inc. Two years later, Barış Güler left the company. There was no statement from BBS Consulting company regarding the allegations about the islands in Göçek. If they issue a statement, we will surely let you know.
For the moment, these are all allegations leaked from the municipality and from MUÇEV. What is certain, though, is that the Yassıcalar Islands have been given to certain individuals, a project has been decided upon and, like everything, it is being hidden from the public.