Turkish court rules to halt 'rock rehabilitation' project in Assos ancient city
A court in the northwestern province of Çanakkale ruled to halt a "rock rehabilitation" project in the ancient city of Assos which activists said was destroying the natural environment.
Çanakkale’s 2nd Administrative Court ruled to halt a project aimed at rehabilitating and securing rocks on the grounds that the rocks posed a threat as they fell on the road and facilities in the ancient city of Assos.
Local activists welcomed the court decision, though they said it came belatedly.
Turkey's state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) had released a report stating that the rocks in Assos “posed a risk.”
Later, on March 26 2021, the governorship of the district of Ayvacık awarded a tender to the Assos Rock Improvement Construction Work to “secure the rocks.”
Yet local activists said the project was “destroying the natural environment.” The Assos Friends Group, the Kaz Mountains Natural and Cultural Heritage Preservation Association filed a lawsuit to the Çanakkale 2nd Administrative Court in Nov. 2021.
In February 2022, the court ruled that the project was illegal as Assos is located inside a first-degree archaeological site. It also requested the works to be halted until an examination was carried out and the defense received.
The court determined that the project had been launched without conducting a scientific evaluation and an assessment as to whether it could harm the archaeological site.
“There is no lawfulness in the proceedings, which were established without determining the duration of the works to be carried out and without forming a scientific committee to undertake the supervision task. As there is a possibility of damage to the archaeological site, it is clear that irreparable or impossible damages may arise,” the court stated.
The Kaz Mountains Natural and Cultural Heritage Preservation Association said the court decision confirmed the scientific and legal concerns that had been expressed since the onset of the project.
"We are also worried about the loss of income that our region's people, villagers and tourism professionals have suffered due to the project. We want Assos to be re-opened to tourism,” the Association stated.
“Without the natural and cultural assets of Assos, tourism in the region is worthless. Scientific research ought to be carried out swiftly in order to reverse the mistakes that were committed and to improve the current situation,” the Association stated.