Turkey’s move to allow destruction of olive groves for mining operations sparks public outrage

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A regulation that entered into force on Tuesday making it possible to cut down olive groves when necessary for mining operations has led to public outrage, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently amended mining regulations to allow “mining operations conducted to provide [coal for] electricity for the country” to relocate olive groves in their areas of operation to other places and restore the orchards to their original state after the completion of their activities.

The regulation, made public on Tuesday, has been criticized by environmentalists, farmers and opposition politicians for paving the way for the eventual destruction of the country’s olive groves.

Süleyman Bülbül, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the regulation violates Article 14 of the constitution and the law for the protection olive groves.

Olives are an major crop for farmers in Turkey’s Aegean region, especially in Aydın, Muğla, Manisa and Balıkesir provinces.

“With this regulation, the mining companies will pillage the olive groves. This regulation will pave the way for pro-government companies to plunder the groves,” he said.

Evrim Rızvanoğlu from the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) referred to the amendment as a nightmare in a tweet.

“Every other day we wake up to a new nightmare. Today, the ‘villagers’ olive’ is targeted! Olive trees in coal fields can be cut down for the ‘public good’,” she tweeted.

The olive groves are protected under Law no. 3573, which the AKP failed to circumvent eight times in the past, Turkey’s Greens Party said in a press release posted on their website.

“We, as the Greens Party, stood by those who defended the olive groves in Bergama, the Kaz Mountains and Soma in the past, and we stand by those who defend the olive groves in İkizköy. We will defend all our olive groves, our nature and our environment against this attack. We will defend the 250-year-old olive tree. We will defend it in order to live. We will defend it so that we all can live,” the press release said.

“As of today, if there are olive groves in a coal field that will be used for power generation, the company can cut down the olive trees! The Energy Ministry has given a green light to the destruction of olive groves by mining companies. Done by offering them the ‘public good’ excuse,” tweeted Çiğdem Toker, a columnist for the Sözcü daily.

Source:Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF)

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