Actress sues CHP leader after verbal row over Ak Saray praise

Actress sues CHP leader after verbal row over Ak Saray praise

Actress sues CHP leader after verbal row over Ak Saray praise

Hülya Avşar speaks to reporters after visiting the new presidential palace. AA Photo

Turkish actress Hülya Avşar has opened a suit for damages against leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu after he staunchly criticized her praise of the new presidential palace as “sycophancy.”

Her lawyer claimed Kılıçdaroğlu’s accusations against Avşar were “disproportional and humiliating,” adding they would demand 100,000 Turkish Liras of non-pecuniary compensation.

The row erupted soon after the actress said in a statement that the palace - also known as "Ak Saray" (White Palace) -  was “far from being lavish” and describing the criticism against it as “exaggerated,” following a visit to the controversial complex along with a delegation of businesswomen.

“I found [the palace] very modest and not ostentatious at all. They made it as it should be. In time we will understand how useless today’s debates were,” Avşar told reporters following her visit Dec. 5, before adding “I was almost going to say that my house is even more luxurious,” prompting general laughter and Kılıçdaroğlu’s fury.

Kılıçdaroğlu, who had joined public criticism over the cost of the palace at 1.37 billion Turkish Liras ($615 million) according to Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, questioned Avşar’s responsibility as an artist.

“No sycophant can be an artist. Artists do not bend when they face power. Those who do it are not called artists,” Kılıçdaroğlu had said.

Avşar, one of the most important public figures in the Turkish entertainment world and well-accustomed to quarrels with other celebrities, was not late to retaliate, saying she “knew that Kılıçdaroğlu was not a leader and wasn’t sure if he was even a politician.”

“My client has not earned her acquisitions with sycophancy, but through her art and hard work,” Avşar’s lawyer said in a statement.

But the controversy over the palace is still lingering, as the complex’s legality remains uncertain according to many critics. Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) added fuel to the fire, refusing to divulge the cost of the palace on the grounds that the move “could hurt the economy.”

For his part, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed that the palace had 1,150 rooms, describing the construction as “necessary” and arguing that its gargantuan size will add as much to the country’s prestige.