‘Atatürk’s mansion had billiard table,’ says Turkish minister in defense of new presidential palace
Oya Armutçu ANKARA
DHA PhotoTurkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has defended the new presidential palace’s much-debated cost by comparing the situation to the billiard table at the Pembe Köşk (Pink Villa), which was used by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in the 1930s.
The debates over the Ak Saray (the White Palace) were carried to the Justice Ministry’s budget talks for 2015 on Nov. 19, triggering Bozdağ to defend the complex’s cost. He said the economic conditions at the time when the former presidential palace was built were much worse than today’s situation.
“In the past, Turkey’s economic condition was much worse when the Çankaya Mansion and the Pembe Köşk were built. I know what those buildings have. Pembe Köşk has a billiards table, for example. In the end, the conditions of the past and today are not the same,” Bozdağ said.
“Why does this nation not criticize the new palace? Because everybody knows that it is about the reputation of the nation and so does not say a word about expenses,” Bozdağ added.
It is better to call the new complex a “service building” rather than “palace,” Bozdağ stressed, also claiming that there is a "smear campaign" ongoing over the new complex.
“It has been evaluated like it was a private estate or a personal palace. A perception has been created that the president is fond of luxury and [the palace] was built because of this,” he said.
The cost of the new presidential palace currently stands at 1.37 billion Turkish Liras ($615 million), about double the original price tag, according to data provided by Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek.