Erdogan to resume construction project that sparked 2013 protests

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Saturday to move forward with the construction of a controversial "historical monument" in Istanbul's Gezi Park area.

In 2013, a controversial plan to construct an Ottoman-era military barracks housing a shopping mall in Gezi Park sparked nationwide protests against the Turkish government when Erdogan was prime minister. Several people were killed in the unrest.

Erdogan, speaking in televised address in Istanbul, said the new construction plans would also include a corner dedicated to the history of foreign countries, citing Germany, France and the United States as examples, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey has been angered by a recent vote in Germany recognizing the massacres of Christians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Ankara rejects the accusations.

Erdogan, urging "courage" in the construction project, said no one should "slander" the Turkish nation.

The Gezi Park demonstrations snowballed into a movement against Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which were accused of gradually instituting authoritarian Islamic rule in the fiercely secular country.

The country has since faced several political crises, though Erdogan has managed to stay in power.

He was elected president in 2014 and now is seeking to change the constitution to gain more power, causing concern for the opposition that fears an erosion of check and balances and growing authoritarianism.

Last update: Sun, 19/06/2016 - 00:42

More from World

EU-Canada summit gets green light despite trade deal setback

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will travel to Brussels for an EU-Canada summit despite resistance in the...

ICC: South Africa, Burundi withdrawal "watershed moment" for justice

The African continent experienced a "watershed moment" for justice after South Africa and Burundi announced their...

Nine shot dead in Central African Republic during protests

Nine people were shot dead in the volatile Central African Republic on Monday, hospital sources said, as hundreds of...

Kurds fend off Islamic State attacks as Baghdad-Ankara spat continues

Kurdish forces on Monday said they fended off two attacks by Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq as Turkish and...

One killed, 100 injured in South Africa train collision

One person was killed and about 100 injured Monday when two passenger trains collided head-on in South Africa, the...