Atatürk’s will to be reviewed for Turkey’s new palace
ANKARAThe much-speculated will of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, will be reviewed by a court before a key ruling on the fate of the country’s new presidential palace, a group of plaintiffs announced on Dec. 4.
The new palace was built by the order of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a part of the Atatürk Forest Farm in the Beştepe neighborhood of Ankara. The complex, inaugurated in October, officially cost at least $615 million, although authorities recently declined to divulge the full cost on the grounds that the move “could hurt the economy.”
Six chambers of profession led by the Chamber of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB), had filed a complaint May 5, the 89th anniversary of the establishment of the forest, arguing that the construction violated the conditional donation of the estate by Atatürk. The first president of Turkey had donated his expansive recreational farming area to the state in 1937, 12 years after he founded it as a green oasis on previously barren lands.
The 6th Civil Court of First Instance ruled for a review of Atatürk’s will, the TMMOB’s Ankara chair Tezcan Karakuş Candan said in the Dec. 4 press conference. Arguing that Atatürk had donated the farm on the condition that it will remain serving for “public purposes,” Candan said the court can even issue a verdict to demolish the presidential palace, if it deems that the will was violated.
The complex lies on a 15-hectare area inside the historic farm, one of the most well-preserved green spaces in Ankara, and hundreds of trees were felled for its construction. The administration had kept up with the construction despite a preventive court order, as well as an expert view, that stipulates the protecting of the area, citing a violation of the principles of urban planning, ecology and science.
Atatürk’s “secret will” has been a matter of speculation since his death in 1938. Most historians say there has never been such a secret will.
His official will about the inheritance of his properties was read aloud at a court in the presence of his sister 18 days after his death. Separately, hundreds of documents were found in a safe owned by Atatürk in 1964. These documents, which are the possible source of the speculation of the “secret will,” were publicized by Turkey’s Chief of General Staff in 2000.