The unlicensed palace’s contribution to Erdoğan’s image
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “Unlicensed Palace” has become the focus of the Western media. It is very natural that this is so, because obviously they cannot fully comprehend the situation.
They cannot, because first, they do not understand that when there was a mansion present where presidents worked traditionally, why a new one was needed. Next, they cannot comprehend how the building could be built without a building license in a forest.
Thirdly, the image that Erdoğan has personally had himself photographed and serviced to the media, does not remind them of a democratic country leader, but of Putin. International New York Times especially emphasized that the other day.
Fourth, they cannot grasp this size. They especially highlight the fact that this unlicensed, unregistered palace is bigger than Buckingham Palace where the queen of England lives and works; bigger than the Elysee Palace where the French president resides and works; and bigger than the White House in which the U.S. president lives and works.
Of course, the cost of the unlicensed palace is another incredible factor. According to the most optimistic calculations, the unlicensed palace has cost $350 million and this is not an amount that one can spend extravagantly in a democratic country.
When all of these are added together, naturally, what emerges is not a picture of a “democratic leader.”
In democracies, one gives account
The best example of in what kind of a country and under what kind of an administration we are living has been Erdoğan’s Unlicensed Palace.
We, the tax payers, do not know exactly how much the illegal palace has cost.
The building was erected with our taxes; it has 1000 rooms; it has more than 5 hectares of indoor space in it, there is a three-story villa for Erdoğan and his family to live in, there will be stables built in its yard, etc., but we do not know how much they cost.
The fundamental difference between a democracy and a non-democratic governing style is transparency.
It is being estimated that this building has cost around $350 million. Something that should never happen in a democracy is that this calculation is “estimated.”
Ask yourself, “Why do they not come out and say it honestly?” They cannot come out because if they do, then it would be hard to justify this waste and rakishness. This unlicensed palace was not built according to the building codes of the state that is applied to other construction works.
There was no open auction of underbidding organized. Because the construction was a “specialized” one, it was built through the direct commission method. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Group Chair and Sinop deputy Engin Altay pointed out to a Court of Accounts report that revealed excessive payments were made to the contracting firm. According to this data, while the unit price of digging the ground was officially 3.10 Turkish Liras, this contractor was paid 1,120 times more with a unit price of 37.19 liras.
While the excavation of a layer of loose rock was officially 4.55 liras per unit, this contractor was paid 980 times more, at 44.61 liras per unit.
The list goes on like this. Actually, it is in the Court of Accounts report that the contractor was paid up to three times for the same job. It needs an explanation, but of course there is no explanation. The money spent is our money, but the attitude is one that says “What is it to you?”
I’m sorry but this is an unacceptable situation in a democracy. These kinds of things happen in countries ruled by dictators.