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Construction of new palace for Erdoğan continues despite COVID-19 outbreak

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The construction of a new presidential complex for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ahlat near Lake Van in eastern Turkey is still underway despite the outbreak of COVID-19 in Turkey and the financial problems the country has been experiencing related to it, according to an opposition politician.

Turkey has been battling the new coronavirus pandemic, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 500 people in the country since the first case was reported on March 11.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s Bitlis provincial chairman Veysi Uyanık on Saturday tweeted a photo of the new presidential complex under construction.

“The construction of the presidential complex in Ahlat, Bitlis, is moving full speed ahead,” he tweeted.

CHP İstanbul deputy Gürsel Tekin recently submitted an inquiry to the Parliament Speaker’s Office asking if construction of new presidential complexes in Ahlat and Okluk Bay in the holiday resort of Marmaris was continuing despite the coronavirus epidemic.

Tekin said it would be to the shame of the government if any of the laborers working at the presidential complexes was to die due to coronavirus.

He also called on the government to halt the construction of the presidential complexes, if it was still continuing, and send the workers home on paid leave. 

The construction of the presidential complex in Ahlat is moving forward despite a ruling by the Constitutional Court, which on July 25 annulled an article in an omnibus law that allowed the construction of the complex, saying that the shoreline should be under the guardianship of the state, that it cannot be the venue for a private residence and that it should be open to public use.

Erdoğan at the time challenged the ruling and said, “We shall bestow this pavilion on Ahlat despite hindrances by those who are displeased.”

The main presidential complex in Ankara was also at the center of criticism when it was constructed due to its large budget, expensive interiors, more than a thousand 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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