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High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Diminishing protected land for the purpose of hotel construction in Adalıyalı, - High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Diminishing protected land for the purpose of hotel construction in Adalıyalı,

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Introduction

Three tourism and hotel companies, specifically ETS Tours, Voyage Hotels and Maxx Royal Resorts, which were founded by Mehmet Ersoy, Culture and Tourism Minister since 2018, have been the subject of a prolonged legal battle over development in the Adalıyalı protected area of Bodrum, in Turkey’s Muğla province. In 2005, Adalıyalı was allocated to the three tourism and hotel companies for three separate hotel constructions for a sum of TL19.7 million (€11.7 million) for 49 years in return for payment of only 1% of their revenue to the state. In 2006 and 2007, following a petition from the Mavi Yol Platform and other activists dedicated to protecting the area from development, the Council of State ordered a stay of execution and the Constitutional Court overturned the allocation.

Country
Turkey
Sector
Culture and tourism
Offence
Misuse of trust
Phase
Suspicion

Description of the case

Three tourism and hotel companies, specifically ETS Tours, Voyage Hotels and Maxx Royal Resorts, which were founded by Mehmet Ersoy, Culture and Tourism Minister since 2018, have been the subject of a prolonged legal battle over development in the Adalıyalı protected area of Bodrum, in Turkey’s Muğla province. In 2005, Adalıyalı was allocated to the three tourism and hotel companies for three separate hotel constructions for a sum of TL19.7 million (€11.7 million) for 49 years in return for payment of only 1% of their revenue to the state. In 2006 and 2007, following a petition from the Mavi Yol Platform and other activists dedicated to protecting the area from development, the Council of State ordered a stay of execution and the Constitutional Court overturned the allocation.

In 2013, the Ministry of the Environment and Urbanisation revised the environmental plans and designated Adalıyalı as a “tourism area”, and the prior authorisation given to Ersoy’s companies for hotel construction in the area was restored. Then, in 2014, at the companies’ request, the requirement for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the area, which is classified as both an archaeological site of the 1st and 3rd degrees and a naturally protected area of the 2nd degree, was waived by decision of the governor.

In 2015, a court overturned the environmental plans at the scales of 1:1000 and 1:5000.

Once again at the companies’ request, however, an additional 4.9 acres (2.5 hectares) was allocated after the proposed plans at the scales of 1:1000, 1:5000 and 1:25000 received approval from the Ministry of the Environment and Urbanisation and were announced by the Muğla Provincial Directorate of the Environment and Urbanisation in 2018. The plans at the scales of 1:1000 and 1:5000 were overturned in November 2019.

Despite the conflict of interest involving Culture and Tourism Minister Ersoy, there is no criminal procedure open in the case. Nevertheless, the issue has been raised publicly in Parliament by MP Çetin Osman Budak of the Antalya Republican People’s Party, who has submitted a question on the issue. His question remains unanswered (see here and here).

However, there are open administrative cases that seek to have the changes to the environmental plans overturned (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).