Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped back from building a shopping mall in the Artillery Barracks project to replace Taksim Gezi Park, while also announcing that a mosque will be built on Taksim Square.
“You cannot make an AVM [shopping mall] familiar to the international ones in this area. There is no conclusive AVM project here. Maybe we will make a city museum there or an architectural work that will put different activities in place. Is there any certain document? No,” said Erdogan on June 2 in Istanbul as he attended the Rumeli Turks Association’s general assembly.
Erdogan also said the much debated Ataturk Cultural Center, also on Taksim Square, should be demolished, proposing to build an opera house and a mosque there instead.
“A mosque will be built in Taksim,” said Erdogan adding that he did not have to receive permission from the main opposition leader or a “few marauders” for the projects. He said that the authority had already been given by people who voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Taksim Square was re-developed in 1936 when the military barracks were demolished and has since been used as a symbol for each successive government. However, consistent planning has not been followed and the area is cluttered with hotels.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s urgent called for common sense and maturity.
Gul issued a statement about the ongoing events in Taksim Gezi Park saying: “The biggest responsibility that falls on us about the ongoing events in Taksim Square, which have reached a point that makes us all worried, is to have more maturity so that these events cool down.”
Meanwhile demonstrations, seeing the same kind of response from the police, have spread to other towns in Turkey, including Ankara, Izmir and Bodrum.