File - A new bridge which will connect new metro lines is seen under construction over the Golden Horn in Istanbul in this September 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Murad Sezer)
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Look closely on a clear day, and the silhouette of Istanbul's historic peninsula, its minarets puncturing the sky, has changed for the first time in centuries.Three luxury towers, their top-floor apartments selling for upward of a million dollars apiece, loom on the horizon, graceless symbols of Turkey's rapid modernization during a decade of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule. After angry Istanbul residents sued, an Istanbul court ruled that the buildings violated urban planning principles and hurt the city's skyline.Erdogan has dismissed both the protests and the subsequent criminal investigations launched by prosecutors and police as foreign-backed plots, engineered by those jealous of Turkey's economic boom.He has vowed to press on with 150 billion lira ($80 billion) in construction projects that include a third Istanbul airport, billed to be one of the world's biggest, a new bridge over the Bosporus, a high-speed train line to the capital Ankara and a giant shipping canal. The changes put ever more sectors outside its scope, including urban development projects and a significant proportion of TOKI's activity building housing.
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