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Rezoning of Istanbul islands raises concerns of AKP meddling

A presidential decree has transferred zoning control of Istanbul’s opposition-run Princes’ Islands to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, raising concerns of anti-democratic practices by Turkey’s ruling party.
A horse drawn carriage passes by in a street on the island of Buyukada off Istanbul on Nov. 29, 2019.

ISTANBUL — In a presidential decree published late Thursday, Istanbul’s opposition-held Princes’ Islands were designated as an “environmental protection area,” transferring the management of zoning rights there to Ankara’s Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.

Presented as an environmental policy to mitigate further ecological degradation in the Marmara Sea, where the islands are situated just south of Istanbul, the move raised concerns of anti-democratic overreach by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been accused of meddling in multiple opposition-run municipalities in recent years.

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