A fire that broke out in the Sürmene district the Black Sea province of Trabzon on Saturday night has led to questions of whether there are plans to open the area up to construction at the request of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who recently visited the region.
Sürmene is famous for its greenery.
The fire, which broke out in the Çamburnu neighborhood of Sürmene, has led to the destruction of 15 to 20 hectares of green space, according to a statement from Trabzon Governor Yücel Yavuz on Sunday.
The governor said the fire was contained due to weakening winds in the area.
Some social media users and opposition party deputies described the Sürmene fire as suspicious because it took place shortly after a visit by Qatari Emir Al-Thani to the region with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December 2016.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş, who wrote from his Twitter account on Sunday, said: “The forest which was shown to the Qatari emir by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from the air is on fire. Is a space for investment being opened for the emir?”
A Twitter user with the name Ece Kozak talked about the same possibility in one of her messages on Sunday.
“Why are our forests being sacrificed to the Qatari emirs? Or we just don’t understand what is happening and maybe our state officials know things better than us,” she wrote.
A video that was posted on Twitter later in the day showed President Erdoğan delivering a speech at the inauguration of a football stadium in Trabzon along with Al-Thani, on Dec. 18, 2016.
In the speech Erdoğan said he took a helicopter tour over Rize and Trabzon’s green lands with Al-Thani before the inauguration ceremony of the stadium and that Al-Thani was very much impressed with the beauty of snow-covered mountains and asked Erdoğan why ski resorts are not built in those mountains.
Erdoğan said he hopes Turkey will have such skiing facilities and added that Al-Thani told him he is ready to have hotels built in the region.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Erdoğan are being widely criticized for destroying Turkey’s green spaces for mega construction projects and not heeding environmental concerns.