The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government on March 1 released a regulation stating that mining activities can be carried out on olive groves. The opposition İYİ (Good) Party has filed an application with the Council of State, Turkey's highest administrative body, requesting the cancellation of the regulation in question.
The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) also announced that they will take legal steps against the regulation.
The decision made by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources stated that mining activities could be carried out directly in privately owned fields with the Ministry's permission, provided that those responsible cover all costs of the mining - including destruction. The decision also states they must replace any olive trees destroyed and return the grove to its original state.
“With the regulation, the way has been paved for the destruction of areas where olive growing activities are carried out, in a way that will provide profit to private legal entities. It is obvious that this regulation violates the requirements of the protection of olive groves in both national and international legislation,” İYİ Party Muğla deputy Metin Ergün said in his application to the Council of State for the annulment of the regulation.
The Union of Turkish Bar Associations also released a statement, saying it is contrary to reason and logic to prefer mining activities over olive groves on the grounds of ‘public benefit,’ especially in the face of climate crisis and danger of famine in the world.
"Sacrificing life-long olive groves for coal, which is a limited resource, harming agricultural lands and agricultural workers that are under constitutional guarantee, opening the 'right of property' to intervention under the name of carrying out mining activities are against the ideal of a sustainable world,” the TTB said.
Megastar Tarkan slams new regulation: 'This country's nature is not your property'
Meanwhile, Turkish citizens heavily criticized the government's move on social media, with the hashtag of #ZeytinimeDokunma (Don’t touch my olive) going viral.
Turkey’s megastar Tarkan was amongst the ones who criticized the new regulation in question.
“The dream of rent has become the nature of our country. Energy, mine, dam, this, that… Our nature is being destroyed irreversibly. Now it's time to sacrifice our olive groves, which they have been eyeing for years. The nature and land of this country is not your property, it belongs to this nation, it belongs to all of us. This is why it is our duty to defend and protect our nature,” Tarkan tweeted on March 2.
"The nature and land of this country is not your property; they belong to this nation, to all of us. This is why it is our duty to defend and protect our nature," he also tweeted.
Ülkemizin doğası olmuş rant rüyası.— Tarkan (@tarkan) March 2, 2022
Enerjiydi, madendi, barajdı, şuydu, buydu…Doğamız geri dönüşü olmaksızın yok ediliyor. Yıllardır gözlerini diktikleri zeytinliklerimizi feda etmek var şimdi sırada. pic.twitter.com/47fpDhe11f
Famous historian İlber Ortaylı also joined in the discussion, saying that the move will irreversibly lead to the destruction of the country’s olive groves.
“Turkey's olive groves are not to be underestimated, or rather, they were not. If we do not take very serious measures, we will be in a situation where we cannot even meet our own needs, let alone selling olives around. The regulation published today must be reviewed, or it will be too late,” Ortaylı tweeted on March 1.
Türkiye zeytinlikleri hiç de küçümsenecek miktarda değil, daha doğrusu değildi. Çok ciddi tedbirler almazsak bırakın etrafa zeytin satmayı, kendi ihtiyacımızı bile karşılayamayacak duruma düşeceğiz. Bugün yayınlanan yönetmelik mutlaka gözden geçirilmeli, yoksa çok geç olacak. pic.twitter.com/gd9C2xWWvP— İlber Ortaylı (@ILBERORTAYLIGSU) March 1, 2022