Cost of new presidential palace can be debated, says Turkish Deputy PM Arınç

Cost of new presidential palace can be debated, says Turkish Deputy PM Arınç

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Cost of new presidential palace can be debated, says Turkish Deputy PM Arınç

The new presidential palace in Ankara illuminated at night. AA Photo

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has commented on the amount of money spent on the construction of the controversial new presidential palace, otherwise known as "Ak Saray," admitting that the amount was “not small” and “could be discussed.”

“All around the world presidential palaces are prestigious … Some may need to show hauteur, splendor. It is like this in our Ottoman traditions too. If someone says ‘over 1 billion [Turkish Liras] has been spent on this, it should not have been so high,’ then this could be discussed. This is not a small amount of money,” Arınç said.

The cost of Turkey’s new presidential palace, which has been heavily criticized by the opposition, currently stands at 1.37 billion liras ($615 million), surpassing earlier estimates, according to data provided by Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek.

Many people have also criticized the construction of the new palace for abandoning the former presidential palace, the Çankaya Köşkü, where all 11 previous presidents of the Turkish Republic - starting with the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - resided.

“If we open Çankaya Köşkü’s space to construction, everything built there would cost 2.5 billion liras today. So this should not be perceived from an economic point of view,” he said.

Following days of heated debates over the price of Ak Saray, originally planned to be used as the new Prime Ministry premises, the Prime Ministry released a statement on Nov. 6 titled “Misdirection about Public Service Buildings of the Presidency and the Prime Ministry.”

The statement stressed that the controversial complex was not allocated to an individual, but rather a public office.

“The real owner is the nation,” it said, adding that it was “the nation” that would choose future residents of the buildings through “democratic elections held within the constitutional framework.”

“Running completely evil-minded polemics based on public buildings and vehicles that represent the prestige of our nation and state is no use to anybody,” the Prime Ministry stated, adding that the government had so far also made large investments in public service buildings for various ministries and other public offices.

“Turkey is growing. Nobody should be annoyed at the growth of opportunities for public service and representation to the standards befitting our nation, as our country rapidly takes the place it deserves in the world,” it said.

The complex lies on a 150,000-square-meter area inside the historic Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ), and hundreds of trees were cut down in one of the best preserved green spaces in the city for its construction. It is equipped with a number of high-technology systems aimed at precluding eavesdropping with bugs and wires, and has a total of 1,000 rooms, considerably larger than the White House, the Kremlin and Buckingham Palace.