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Erdoğan’s luxury palace in Ankara declared illegal by Council of State

Anıtkabir (front), the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the Presidential Palace complex (rear) are seen in Ankara on March 30, 2019. Adem ALTAN / AFP

The Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, has annulled legislation that allowed the construction of public buildings — including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential complex in Ankara – on protected sites, the news website reported on Thursday.

The 6th Chamber of the Council annulled Resolution No 271, which said, “Public buildings can be built in historic site areas without having a reconstruction plan for protection,” declaring Erdoğan’s palace illegal.

The resolution provided the legal grounds for the construction of Erdoğan’s presidential complex in part of the historic Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ), one of the most well-preserved green spaces in Ankara, though hundreds of trees were felled for the construction.

The annulled legislation was created immediately after the Ankara 5th Administrative Court ruled against the construction of the 1,150-room presidential complex on AOÇ land in Ankara in 2014.

Speaking to the about the court decision, Tezcan Karakuş Candan, head of the Chamber of Architects Ankara branch, stated that the cancellation of Resolution 271 “solidified the illegality of the illicit palace.”

“The ruling also confirms that AOÇ land cannot be built on as it is legally considered a primary protection zone,” Candan added.

Urging Erdoğan to move into Ankara’s Çankaya Mansion, the traditional residence of presidents of the republic, Candan said, “The president should do what’s necessary as he swore an oath to adhere to the constitution and the law.”

The chamber will present the top court’s decision for 160 other lawsuits they have on file against the destruction of AOÇ land, Candan said.

The AOÇ was established as a private farm in 1925 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, who donated it to the Turkish state in 1937.

Erdoğan’s presidential complex in Ankara was 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.

Over TL 1.7 billion ($244 million) had been spent on the palace, twice the original estimate, when Erdoğan moved into the palace in November 2014.

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