Row over property sales to foreigners grips panel

Row over property sales to foreigners grips panel

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Row over property sales to foreigners grips panel

Saudi King Abdullah reportedly plans to build villas on Istanbul’s Love Hill. AA photo

A crisis over the issue of foreigners purchasing real estate in Turkey has occurred in Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) asked for a limitation on foreigners purchasing real estate in Turkey, claiming that many people from foreign countries and particularly from Israel are buying land in Turkey with fake contracts.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Kurdish issue-focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have objected to this. The related article could not be written after the argument escalated.
Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission has discussed “freedom of travel and settlement,” “freedom of science and arts” and “property and legacy right” while chaired by Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek.

A crisis occurred on the issue of foreigners purchasing real estate in Turkey while the “property and legacy right” was being discussed.

The CHP and MHP took a common stance for the first time over an article and wanted a limitation on property sales to foreigners. The AKP and BDP objected to this.

MHP deputy Oktay Öztürk said, “Lands are being sold to Israelis and Jews. Our country is being nearly invaded by foreigners. There has to be a limitation on this issue.”

CHP deputy Atilla Kart said “One-seventh of the lands in Konya are being sold, and most of these sales are in collision. They are buying real estate using other people’s names in a fixed way. A limitation has to be brought to this.”

AKP deputies Mehmet Ali Şahin, Mustafa Şentop and Ahmet İyimaya rejected putting limitations on property sales to foreigners.

AKP deputies said during the term of single-party government, there were also land sales to foreigners and showed the documents proving the sales. They also claimed that the “the mutuality organized in Article 16 of the Constitution is enough for the regulation.”

BDP deputy Altan Tan also rejected the limitation.

Kart said, “The sales during the one-party term were for countries that wanted to open embassies in Turkey in the first years of the young [Turkish] republic. It is not the same thing as today’s sales.”
After long discussions, the article on the sale of property to foreigners could not be written because of lack of consensus on the issue.

The writing committee will discuss the article again this week. If consensus cannot be reached, the article will be skipped and left to the end of the related chapter.

Sevda Tepesi (Love Hill) which belongs to the king of Saudi Arabia, has been one controversial property. Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar recently said the king would be able to build four villas on the hill, which was zoned for construction last week in a debatable decision by the municipality council. “The king’s family will not build a hotel there. They will build villas for the family, maybe four of them. They are not allowed to cut even one tree. I believe they will protect the area; they will make it better. The process has not ended yet. The municipality has approved it; now, six ministers and the prime minister need to approve it too so that a problem of 25 years will be solved,” he said.

Two problematic articles

The commission has also skipped two important articles. These are the articles on “freedom of religion and conscience” and “freedom of education.” Members of the commission were afraid there might be a crisis over education in Kurdish and secularism issues while discussing these articles. All the four parties have red lines on these issues. The writing commission will convene today and write the articles on the rights of working, initiative, contract, political organization, assembly, demonstration, marching and claiming.