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Turkey’s top court blocks construction of presidential palace near Lake Van

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has annulled an article in an omnibus law that allowed the construction of a presidential palace near Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van, in eastern Turkey, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

The court also invalidated a drawing showing the area where the presidential palace would be built.

The relevant article in the omnibus law, amending several laws at once, was approved by parliament in January and eased restrictive measures concerning construction near some coastal areas including Lake Van. The article also legalized landfill in coastal areas for new construction.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) challenged the article at the top court, demanding its cancellation. The top court ruled in line with the CHP’s application based on Article 2 of the Turkish Constitution, which states that Turkey is a state of law. The court said the coast should be under the guardianship of the state, that it cannot be the venue for private property and that it should be open to public use.

During a visit to the eastern Turkish province of Bitlis in August 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that a presidential palace would be built in Bitlis’ Ahlat district near Lake Van. Construction of the new palace began in April.

Erdoğan’s presidential complex in Ankara was at the center of criticism when it was constructed due to its large budget, expensive interiors, thousand-plus rooms and luxurious design as well as the felling of trees in its neighborhood.

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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