Ankara’s new palace allocated to presidency amid lawsuit
Oğuz Demir / Erdinç Çelikkan - ANKARA
REUTERS PhotoAnkara Metropolitan Municipality Council has decided to allocate the area of the controversial palace to the presidency, just two months after allocating the area to the prime ministry, while the Ankara Chamber of Architect said it will appeal the decision.
Recently built on the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ) in Ankara’s Beştepe neighborhood, the palace, which is currently used by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been allocated to the use of the president for two years by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality’s council.
On June 21, the Ankara Municipal Council gathered for an extraordinary meeting under the chairmanship of Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, with the issue of the new place on the agenda.
A total of 8,406 square meters of the area was also allocated for the presidential office at the June 21 meeting. However, the same area was allocated for the prime ministry in April by another municipal council decision.
The council members from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted against the decision to give up the license of the area from the prime ministry to the presidency while the members form the Justice and Development Party (AKP) voted in favor of the decision.
CHP deputy group leader Doğan Yılmazkaya, however, questioned the reasoning of the decision.
“This building was allocated to the prime ministry two months ago by this council. What has changed in two months?” asked Yılmazkaya during the gathering. Mayor Gökçek replied the issue was “completely a legal formality.”
“This place was a prime ministry building in the past but it was allocated to the presidential office so we have to approve it. This is completely a legal formality. Although the Ankara Chamber of Architects objects, our decision does not conflict with the law,” said Gökçek in response to the CHP member’s question. The Ankara Chamber of Architects, on the other hand, said on June 22 that they will file a lawsuit against the decision.
“They are making these allocations without legal ground. We will file complaints against all [wrongdoings done] so far. We believe they will allocate all the area in the AOÇ, piece by piece,” the head of the chamber, Tezcan Karakuş Candan, told daily Hürriyet on June 22.
Meanwhile, a group of people gathered in front of the palace in order to protest the municipal council’s decision were prevented by security guards.
The group of young people attempted to picnic and play with a ball in the area, claiming that the area belonged to the people rather than the president.
Erdoğan moved into the palace last year, brushing aside protests by opposition parties and advocacy groups who said the $615 million complex was illegal.
The cost of Turkey’s controversial new presidential palace, which was at least 1.37 billion Turkish Liras ($615 million), and the legality of its placement inside the AOÇ have been criticized by the opposition.
A residence for the president, mosque and cultural center are still waiting to be completed in the presidential complex.