Erdogan on His First Veto: We Won’t Let Our People be Poisoned

The President has made remarks on his veto of a bill postponing filter installations for 15 coal-fired power plants and relations with NATO ahead of the alliance's 70th anniversary meeting.

President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held a press conference at Esenboga Airport in the capital Ankara ahead of his departure for NATO's 70th anniversary meeting in London.

Responding to questions about his veto of a bill postponing filter installations for 15 coal-fired power plants, Erdogan said they will not "let the people be poisoned," accusing the companies of not keeping their words.

The president yesterday (December 2) vetoed the bill, which was supported by AKP and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). This was the first time he vetoed a bill since 2013 when he became the President.

Had the bill passed, installation of chimney filters to 15 coal-fired power plants in various parts of the country would be postponed for another two-and-a-half years. The plants were privatized in 2013 and the companies that bought them had to install filters by the end of 2019.

'On one side, there are my people, on the other side, tehre are capital owners'

Recalling that the parliament already previously postponed filter-installations, Erdogan said, "Unfortunately, the contractor companies have not done the filter work in those places. And now, they request a time extension again."

"We can't let such organizations, which cause air pollution and don't let out people to breathe clean air, work forever.

"There is a record, a decision for the filtration at the beginning, at the time of the selling. But if you don't comply with this decision, we don't let our people be poisoned just because you will earn more money.

"As of the end of the year, the time expires. I don't know what kind of steps they [companies] will take. But letting this until the end of 2022, it was impossible to approve such a thing. Because, on the one side, there are my people, on the other side, there are the capital owners."

Erdogan also touched on the Paris Agreement, saying, "You know, we are going through a period with the Paris Agreement. Proposals came to us about climate change. But those who made these proposals did not keep their word. We didn't sign [the agreement]. We said, 'We can't pass such a bill in the parliament anyway.' Moreover, America has not signed it yet."

Ecology Union: Veto is not enough, plants should be closed

Ecology Union has released a statement on Erdogan's veto of the bill, saying it is "unthinkable" that Erdogan was not aware of the bill before it was submitted to the parliament.

"The bill, which came after the approval of AKP Chair Erdogan, was approved with the votes of AKP and MHP. But there were diverse reactions against the parliament, which did not keep its promise.

"In our previous statement, we said, 'The 15 power plants that are not rehabilitated should be closed urgently and prevented from spilling death. We call on the Ministry of Environment and Urbanism to fulfill its duty of supervision urgently. It is unacceptable that these power plants, which work well above the pollution values for a long period of the year, openly make people cancer.'

"Thermal plants, even if they have filters, will continue to spill poison from their chimneys," the group stated, calling on the government to shut down coal-fired plants.

Source: English Bianet