Erdogan revives plans to redevelop Gezi Park

In a speech, Turkey's president stressed his wish to build a replica of the barracks, a mosque and also an opera house at Gezi Park.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a speech at a ceremony in Istanbul on June 18, 2016.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he would revive plans to redevelop a park in central Istanbul, three years after the plans triggered large-scale anti-government protests.

The protests started as environmental activism against the removal of trees from Gezi Park, but turned into an anti-governement protest.

Four people were killed and many were wounded during a police crackdown against the protests.

The plans to build a mosque, a replica of an Ottoman-era military barracks and a shopping mall were then put on hold while the government and its critics fought over the issue in the courts.

Critics of the plans said they would destroy one of the few green areas of Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and commercial hub which already boasts a large number of shopping malls as well as mosques.

In a speech at a ceremony in Istanbul, Erdogan stressed his wish to build a replica of the barracks, a mosque and also an opera house, though he made no mention of the shopping mall.

"One of the areas where we need to be courageous is Taksim Gezi Park ... If we are going to reclaim our history, there was a historical building there, we will rebuild it," he said, referring to the barracks.

"Whether it will be a history museum or a city museum, we need to do this," said Erdogan, a pious Muslim who often extols the glories of Turkey's Ottoman past.

TRTWorld and agencies