A number of close aides to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday blasted a BBC reporter accompanying British Prime Minister Theresa May in Ankara on Saturday for tweets commenting on the large amount of gold appointments she saw in the glittering presidential palace.
In response to journalist Laura Kuenssberg’s tweets saying “Another world leader fond of golden lifts” and “In Erdogan’s Palace – there’s a lot of gold,” presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın tweeted back: “String of lies about ‘gold’ in Presidential Complex. … None of these is gold. Only reflects the low quality of your journalism.”
This was followed by cabinet chief Hasan Doğan, who wrote on Twitter: “So, you think every shiny yellow thing you see is gold? Woow :))).”
Not to be outshone, presidential advisor Mustafa Varank posted a picture of a presidential guard whose uniform was accented in gold, saying: “Hey Laura look at Erdogan’s Presidential Compound even guards are made of GOLD!
$600 million cockroaches
The presidential palace, built in a protected forest area on the outskirts of Ankara in 2014, has been widely criticized for its lavish furnishings and high cost, reportedly much more than the initial estimate of $600 million. The 1,150 room extravaganza was initially ordered by Erdoğan because he claimed, in a TV interview, that his old offices were infested with cockroaches.
Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in 2015 even went so far as to accuse Erdoğan of having golden toilet seats installed in the bathrooms, resulting in the president filing a lawsuit demanding $37,300 in damages for slander.