Report: İstanbul under increased threat to lose status as world heritage city

November 25, 2012, Sunday/ 16:49:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

A report drafted by the Turkey branch of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) states that İstanbul is increasingly at risk of being dropped as a UNESCO world heritage city due to the ongoing construction of a metro bridge over the Golden Horn.

İstanbul has long been facing the threat of losing its status in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the report, which the organization is taking seriously, means that warning bells are ringing loudly.

In the report, experts suggest that the metro bridge be demolished and built all over again despite the financial loss that will incur, saying the damage caused by the bridge, currently under construction, cannot be eliminated by any means, according to the Taraf daily. The report states that it is impossible not to see the negative impact of the bridge on the view of İstanbul's historical peninsula. The report rules out suggestions by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality on coloring and illumination of the bridge as a means to eliminate the negative impact on the view.

In a meeting with UNESCO representatives last week, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality argued that the bridge will not negatively affect the skyline of the historical peninsula.

The metro bridge project has come under increasing criticism from experts. There were earlier concerns that UNESCO would consider putting İstanbul on its list of “world heritage in danger” due to the effect of the bridge on the city's skyline, although UNESCO approved the construction in 2011.

ICOMOS Turkey also issued a warning about the renovation projects to be carried out in the Ayvansaray and Balat quarters of İstanbul, saying the result of these projects must not resemble that of Sulukule. In Sulukule, Roma residents were removed from their old houses and new residences were constructed in the area to house wealthy elites.

A planned filling of the sea in the Yenikapı neighborhood and a planned highway along the southern part of the historical peninsula are also likely to spoil the silhouette of the city.

The report also criticizes the authorities for not including civil society organizations and the public in the projects.

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