The chief public prosecutor of Turkey’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has said that it is illegal to construct government buildings, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential complex in Ankara, on protected land, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Thursday.
In February 2021 the council’s 6th Chamber 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 had provided the legal justification 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 had been drafted by the High Council for the Conservation of Cultural Property (KVKYK) immediately after the Ankara 5th Administrative Court ruled against construction of the 1,150-room presidential complex on AOÇ land in the Turkish capital in 2014.
Following the decision, the KVKYK made changes to the resolution, replacing the words “public buildings” with “government buildings.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ankara lawmaker Levent Gök took the changes made to the resolution to court, Cumhuriyet said, adding that the 6th Chamber initially rejected his demand for an injunction.
However, the Board of Administrative Judicial Chambers of the council recently ruled for an injunction on changes to the resolution, Cumhuriyet added.
According to Cumhuriyet, the top prosecutor stated in his three-page opinion that it was “essential” to protect historic sites with their natural structures and that the construction of government buildings on historic sites could “disrupt the flora, topographic structure and silhouette” of those sites, and therefore, contravenes the Law on the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Property and the Law on National Parks.
The prosecutor added that since the words “government buildings” are not in compliance with the law, the changes made to the resolution should be canceled.
Speaking to Cumhuriyet about the prosecutor’s opinion on the case, the CHP’s Gök said that it “solidified the illegality of the illicit palace.”
“The AOÇ land is occupied. The presidential palace is an illegal palace that breaks the law. The rule of law necessitates ending this occupation as soon as possible,” he added.
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.