Work to construct a mine in Artvin's Cerattepe area despite public anger from locals has been halted until a judicial process is completed following a Feb. 24 meeting between a delegation from the province and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
“The work at Cerattepe will be paused until a court decision,” the prime minister said while addressing a crowd in the Central Anatolian province of Konya hours after the meeting with the Artvin team.
“Everyone will respect the court order,” he said, also calling on locals to put an end to protests. “We will never let this issue be abused.”
The prime minister said any mine that would be built in the region would be a closed gallery that would “avoid damage to nature.”
The copper extracted from the mine would be processed in Murgul, another district in Artvin. The copper would not be carried there on road but via a cable car.
The trees that will be cut off for the construction will be planted elsewhere, he claimed.
“However, if someone still says we want the underground richness to remain under the ground despite all these cautions, it is impossible for us to accept this,” the prime minister said. “What is more, if some illegal demonstrations continue, public order will be maintained in Artvin as this is the case all across Turkey.”
The prime minister called for respect for the judicial process. “We will not compromise with the groups that bid to abuse this.”
Artvin Municipality also broke the news on its Facebook account, saying the work of the mining company was halted after Davutoğlu's meeting with members of the Green Artvin Association in Ankara.
Facing determined resistance from hundreds of protesters, police and gendarmerie forces fired tear gas on Feb. 17 to disperse demonstrators who erected barricades, set garbage bins alight and made bonfires with tree branches in order to block the construction work in Cerattepe.
Clashes have continued since Feb. 17, with police being criticized for their heavy-handed attacks against protesting locals.
On Feb. 21, the Artvin Governor's Office banned all entry to the province as protesters arrived to support hundreds of locals resisting against the plan to construct a gold mine that could severely damage nature in the region.
Metin Feyzioğlu, head of Turkey's Bar Associations, joined a demonstration against the mine at a central square in Artvin on Feb. 23.
“The tender for this mine stands at 97.6 million Turkish Liras,” he said, comparing the figure to 131 million liras, the transfer fee of Turkish international football player Arda Turan to sign for Barcelona.
“As such, Artvin cost less than the transfer fee of a player,” he said.
Before the announcement of the decision on Feb. 24, Ümit Kocasakal, head of Istanbul Bar Association, said the unity of the people in Artvin would protect nature.