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Kılıçdaroğlu says won’t move into Erdoğan’s luxurious presidential palace if elected

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Turkey’s main opposition leader, who will challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential election in May, has said he will not move into a luxurious palace currently used by Erdoğan but will instead use the old Çankaya presidential palace in Ankara as his residence and office, the Haber Türk news website reported.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who was nominated as the joint presidential candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties on Monday, spoke to Haber Türk about his plans if he is elected on May 14.

When asked if he would reside in the controversial presidential complex currently used by Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would use the Çankaya presidential palace instead, which used to serve as a home for the country’s presidents until the construction of the new palace in Ankara in 2014.

To another question asking how the current presidential palace would be used, he said, “We’ll find a use for it, we’ll come up with a solution. We’ll think about it when the time comes.”

Kılıçdaroğlu as well as some other opposition politicians frequently referred to the presidential palace in the Beştepe neighborhood of Ankara as the “illegal palace” because its construction continued despite being barred by the courts on the grounds that it was constructed on protected land.

Before the general election in 2015, Kılıçdaroğlu vowed to drive Erdoğan out of his palace and make the complex the “Silicon Valley” of Turkey by giving it to the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University for scientific and technological research.

Erdoğan’s presidential complex, over 30 times the size of the White House and four times the size of Versailles, was at the center of criticism when it was constructed because it was built on a protected land in the historic Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ), one of the most well-preserved green spaces in Ankara.

It was also criticized due to its large budget, expensive and lavish interiors, more than a thousand rooms and luxurious design as well as the felling of trees in its neighborhood.

At the beginning of the construction of the presidential complex, it was intended to serve as the prime ministry building, but Erdoğan wanted to use it as his presidential palace after he was first elected president in August 2014.

Over $600,0000 had been spent on the palace, twice the original estimate, when Erdoğan moved into the palace in November 2014.

After Erdoğan’s election as president, the Çankaya presidential palace was turned into the prime ministry building. Turkey abolished prime ministry after the country switched to the presidential system of governance with a referendum in 2017.

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