Redevelopment plans for Istanbul's Gezi Park will be postponed until a court rules on a challenge brought by environmentalists, the Turkish government said early Friday, also pledging to launch an investigation into police violence during more than two weeks of civil unrest.
Even if the judges give the green light for a project that would imply the demolition of the park, located in Taksim Square, the government plans to put the urban development matter to a referendum in Istanbul, Hüseyin Celik, spokesman for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, said.
The government sounded a conciliatory tone after an overnight meeting in Ankara with protest leaders, abruptly changing tack after issuing stark warnings to demonstrators earlier in the week.
Representatives of the Taksim Solidarity network, an umbrella group for protesters who have camped out for two weeks in Gezi Park, said they were satisfied with the meeting.
In a brief statement, the group said Erdogan had listened to their concerns, assuring them the park would not be touched until the court ruling and that the matter would be put to a plebiscite if the judges decide in the government's favor.
His administration also pledged an investigation to determine responsibility for violent crackdowns on protesters, many of whom have called for the prime minister's resignation.
Taksim Solidarity said it would hold an assembly Friday afternoon to determine whether to end the sit-in at the park, where the government plans to build a replica of an Ottoman-era military barracks.
"We will respond favorably to that positive attitude (on the part of the government)," the group said at the end of the meeting with Erdogan, which began Thursday night and concluded around 3:00 a.m. Friday. EFE