Bursa’s quiet, calm and green town, Uludağ’s smiling face, fruit realm Keles has made its choice short time ago and put Mehmet Keskin into power. Keles Mayor Mehmet Keskin told every growth, which is expected for the town for Mavi Yeşil readers, from rural tourism to nature sports tracks, from husbandry to agriculture, substructure and superstructure developments growth.
Dear Mayor, firstly, can we get to know you better?
I am Mehmet Keskin. I was born in Keles’s Dedeler village in 1955. I was grown up there; I completed my elementary school in Dedeler Village Elementary School. Then, I enrolled in the Bursa İmam Hatip High School. I completed my secondary and high school there. After that, as a high school graduate, in Keles’ Dedeler and Yunuslar village, now it became a neighbourhood here, I served as an imam. In between my duties in these two villages, I delivered my military service. While serving as an imam in Dedeler village, namely when I had not still delivered my military service, I married here. As I mentioned, after the military service, I kept serving as an imam in Yunuslar village of that time. By taking the university exam at the end of the 6 years which had passed after my 3 years service in Yunuslar, I started the university. In 1979, I enrolled in High Islam Institute in Bursa. And in 1983, I was graduated from the Uludağ Faculty of Theology. Afterwards, my teachership adventure started. After teaching in Gaziantep, İslahiye for 2 years, I was appointed to Keles İmam Hatip High School. I taught there for one year, then I served as deputy principal for one year and principal for five years. After my services there, I started my duty as a principal in İznik İmam Hatip High School. In years to come, after I served in Bursa İmam Hatip High School, Yeşil İmam Hatip High School and Merkez İmam Hatip High School, I retired in 2003. My life before my political life was like this.
As far as we know, you have undertaken the tasks of teachership and headship prior to your political career. What was the thing that leaded you to the politics?
During my duty as principal and in also my previous duties, I have always liked to be close to people. I have always kept my door open to the citizens in all my duties. After I had retired, a friend called me one night, before the 2004 elections. He said to me, “would you become a candidate for provincial assembly, I will also do so.” The day after, I started to the politics by completing our membership procedures. In 2004 election, I was in the reserve list. In 2007 elections, my friend who encouraged me became candidate for deputyship by resigning from his provincial membership. And I became a reserve provincial assembly member in his place. I got elected again in 2009. When we came to the year 2014, I became a candidate for the nomination for Mayorship. When my friend who had become candidate that year, got elected and I was offered the task of the district municipality presidentship. And I accepted it. Because the politics does not tolerate vacancy. That day there was a need for this. And also, I served as a district president for 5 years. As of the 30th of November, I resigned from the district presidentship in accordance with our provincial chairman and headquarters permission. After that, I was nominated for the Mayorship of Keles. We were elected easily for the mayorship. I can summarize my adventure in politics like this.
After you took the chair, what did you observe that Keles needs the most regarding the investments to be made?
Before becoming mayor, we (in the meaning of ‘I’) carried out district president and provincial assembly membership duties. Thus, we have been observing, following goings-on, what should be done in Keles since the beginning. There are issues which we concentrate on. One of them is the irrigation. For to develop the animal husbandry and fruit growing, we have concentrated on irrigation. Here, there is water that come to the field under normal conditions. We included them in the closed system as much as we could. Afterwards, we realized ponding (small lakes) studies. There are some whose constructions are still ongoing, there are ones whose irrigation shall be made and there are ones which are in planning and project phase. Firstly, we need to complete these. We are following these.
Another matter is the road which shall provide the access between Keles and Bursa which we have been following up with our deputies, ministers and provincial organizations for a very long time. If God lets, we will complete this road in a time span that will not be too long. Apart from that, we are constantly following up the village roads, we’re repairing the ruined parts, we are making the coatings of the places where the coating is necessary.
We will continue all infrastructure and superstructure projects that we have started, put on the agenda and planned so far concerning the deficiencies of our Keles. Beyond these, we’ve pondered upon the question of what we can do to improve Keles’ economy. Our partial studies regarding this are still ongoing. Among these studies, the preeminent one, is rural tourism. There are so many things that we’ve planned in this area.
By the way, there is another issue. We shall make studies about the calm city implementation as well. Our contact regarding the matter are still ongoing. In days to come, we will have a trip to Seferihisar from here with our friends. We will observe the things that are made there in their place and understand our deficiencies. We believe that experience sharing will have great contributions for this process. On the other hand, we will continue our studies regarding animal husbandry and fruit growing by listening to our villagers’ problems and obtaining information from the first-hand. Now, we will evaluate the agricultural products produced in our town as export products and we will try to make production with this logic.
In the next process, for to develop the rural tourism in our town, we will send our tradesmen to some places which do rural tourism. When our tradesman returns with the information he obtained, he will be more beneficial to our Keles in terms of rural tourism.
You took the office as the 12th Mayor of Keles and you have a long period ahead of you which is 5 years. Can you talk about your projects and goals about Keles a little?
First of all, let me you tell you this, I was the 12th Mayor, I have not counted it before. Also, thank you for reminding me this. First, starting from the one who is our elder in the first row , I thank to all the mayors and aldermen who served until this day. Each of them has served this land as best as they could. When the circumstances allowed, the services provided might have been either one missing or one too many. Now it is our turn. Our duty here is: to carry the flag that we have taken further within the time given to us. Our priority assignment is to conclude the projects whose completion period is still ongoing. Afterwards, we will predominantly work for the development of fruit growing, agriculture, animal husbandry and rural tourism area.
When it comes to nature sports in Bursa, Keles comes first to mind. Do you have any investment ideas regarding nature sports?We have rafting on our agenda, rock climbing projects, we have one or two caves that can serve tourism in the future period… In addition to these, we will fix walking trails. Because there is such a thing that, since I have taken the office, I have been saying this: spring does not come with one flower. There is no such thing as you built bungalow somewhere and rural tourism is done. A set of activities should be added to these. For example, we are planning to offer a TV, walking tracks, and rafting opportunities to those who want. Also in the coming days, we will add newer activities.
Keles hosts Kocayayla which is one of the biggest plateaus of Turkey. We know that in this plateau, there are so many activities and festivals. But, do you think Kocayayla can get the return which it deserves? In this context, in terms of tourism, what kind of investments do you plan to make in Keles?
Kocayayla is one of the most beautiful plateaus of Turkey. At this point, no matter how much we thank to the Lord for it, it is not enough. Maybe nearly a million of people visit Kocayayla but we charge these visitors only 10 liras. Cleaning and maintenance of that place and all are included in it. And visitors come here supplying all their food needs from outside. Our goal in the next term is to have these visitors, at least some of them, buy their organic meat, fruit, vegetable from Keles and so that our tradesman benefit from it. We have studies to work at this point. One of them is: We have a road leading to Kocayayla from inside Keles. We are planning to put it at the disposal of visitors after enlarging it. And secondly, in the next period, here we need to move some of the tradesmen to Kocayayla on some days. It is not a planned case yet. But of course, prior to this, it will be carried out after the completion of our metropolitan municipality’s bungalows. Thus, the creation of selling points along with our visitors coming here for accommodation will gain meaning. Therefore, we will be benefiting more from Kocayayla. By the way, we have a project that we started with our women. Our women have a work of forming an association. We started the substructure works. With our women, we are aiming to conduct a work where they can exhibit their own products and make profit like in Saitabat, Doğancı and Misi.
Bursagaz announced that they would make a 137 million Liras worth investment into the mountain towns. How do you evaluate the natural gas investment that will come to Keles? What do you think will change, develop in Keles with natural gas investment?
Now first of all, at this point we thank to Bursagaz. We had demands, desires, we put it through the assembly. We made an attempt saying that you can dig our streets as you like but, to be honest, we did not expect them to start the work this much soon. With the efforts of our deputy Osman Mesten, Bursagaz’ authorities and our pursuit, previous year we installed the natural gas substructure. Now, the main line is being installed from İnegöl to Keles. When it arrives, If God lets, Keles will have attained the natural gas. What does attaining the natural gas mean? Firstly, while lighting the heater in winter, even though it is little, we will have averted carbon dioxide emitted to Keles nature. On the other hand, I believe that serious saving will be made on the propane cylinder side as well. We have heating boilers beneath our houses, but our people will get rid of the trouble what happens to the coal or so. They will turn on the button; they will experience convenience at every corner of the house. While living in Bursa’s centre, one day someone asked my deceased mother if she could get warm with natural gas. And my mother said “we twisted its ear a bit and then it gets nice and warm.” God willing, our homes will be nice and warm, it will get warm effortlessly. Some worry if it becomes more expensive. I believe that Keles people will warm their houses and meet their needs with an amount below the amount that they paid for the cylinder they used for warming, propane cylinder and bathroom needs.
At this point, I, again, thank to Bursagaz and those who contributed. I also thank you for giving us the opportunity for this interview. Before I end my speech, I want to utter another matter. We have the Turkish World Ancestor Sports Festival and the 53. Kocayayla Festival that we will be held in our Kocayayla on the 20th -21th July on Friday and Saturday. We feel greatly honoured to host our citizens in this activity. We are waiting to welcome everybody.
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