European rights court demands Turkey’s statement on cost of presidential palace

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The presidential palace in Ankara

An application made by the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB) Ankara office to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with regard to disclosure of the cost of Turkey’s presidential palace has been accepted, with the result that the ECtHR has requested Turkey’s statement as to the reasons for refusing to reveal it, the Sözcü newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Tezcan Karakuş Candan, the head of the TMMOB’s Ankara office, claimed that the acceptance meant the beginning of a new legal process.

“The ECtHR requested the government’s statement upon our request. We launched this effort to claim our right to information as a result of the government’s refusal to acknowledge our request or to comply with the right to information act. We repeatedly faced denials concerning the commercial aspect of the issue. Now this dimension has also been opened to debate as far as the ECtHR is concerned. It is also a significant development that the ECtHR has demanded that the government submit its statement within three months. This is the first stage of a new legal struggle even if it is not the final verdict,” Candan said.

Since its construction, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential palace, located in Ankara’s Beştepe neighborhood, has been a source of controversy, most notably the allegedly extravagant cost of its construction and maintenance.

At the beginning of October, a report by Turkey’s Court of Accounts had shown that more than TL 1.8 million (around $300,000) was spent daily in 2017 for its expenses.

When Erdoğan moved into the palace in November 2014, more than TL 1.7 billion had been spent on it, twice the original estimate.

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