Turkish defense, justice ministers deny construction in Anıtkabir claims

Turkish defense, justice ministers deny construction in Anıtkabir claims

Turan Yılmaz/Doğahan Giritlioğlu – ANKARA
Turkish defense, justice ministers deny construction in Anıtkabir claims Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Işık and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ have refuted recent claims that the premises of Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, would be opened to construction.

“Have we gone mad? A settlement in an area allocated to the Turkish Armed Forces and the Defense Ministry is an incomprehensible move. No one would say ‘yes’ to this,” Işık said.

Işık noted that “Atatürk is everyone’s common value,” and no one had the right to undertake anything regarding Anıtkabir as they wished. 

“But unfortunately, there are news spreading as if the area of Anıtkabir will be opened for construction. These are in no way reflecting the reality. And we had this examined. Unfortunately, Anıtkabir and Atatürk are probably being used as a tool to fuel the conflict between Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek and the Chamber of Architects,” he said.

“Neither the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality has such an intention to begin such a construction there, even the smallest changes in the Anıtkabir area, which is under the umbrella of the military, nor would we allow that,” Işık added. 

According to Işık, there are currently no demands from the government or the municipality for Anıtkabir premises to be opened for construction, nor any decision taken regarding the issue. “Anıtkabir has boundaries, as you know. Only previously, a proposal was put forward for a small piece of military land to be turned into a park area, but we, as the ministry, had not anyway accepted that,” he said.

Asked if any decision regarding Anıtbakir was being planned, Işık said, “Why would we make such a decision, why would we destroy such a beauty and the greenness? Let alone being an AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] supporter or another party’s supporter, as a normal citizen it is incomprehensible to initiate such changes,” he said.  

Bozdağ joined Işık in denying the claims. “There is a distortion from the Chamber of Architects here,” Bozdağ said.

“There is no such thing as a zoning regulation in Anıtkabir or that it is being opened to construction. I do not think that the mayor of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality or any other municipality would believe Anıtkabir was being opened to construction,” he said.

“There is a distortion done by the Chamber of Architects. There are lodgings currently used by the Defense Ministry, and they are not in Anıtkabir; they are on the other side. Gökçek said the situation was about that. There is no new construction,” Bozdağ said. 

The head of the Ankara Chamber of Architects, Tezcan Karakuş Candan, previously claimed that the Ankara Municipality Council’s new zoning plan on Anıtkabir had made it possible for housings to be constructed on the mausoleum’s premises. 

On July 17, Gökçek reacted against Candan’s statements, noting, “The decision made by the municipal council is that it is not allowing housing on Anıtkabir. It is [undertaken] to give an official status to the current military lodgings on the park area across Anıtkabir.”