Turkey’s Department of Presidential Security, which is responsible for the protection of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family and presidential residences, spent more than 427 million Turkish lira ($15.8 million) in the first six months of 2023, corresponding to TL 2.6 million ($96,473) a day, the Birgün daily reported on Friday.
Citing data from Turkey’s Security General Directorate (EGM), affiliated with the Interior Ministry, Birgün said Erdoğan’s daily security cost is approximately equivalent to the monthly salary of 230 minimum wage workers in Turkey, while the monthly security cost is approximately equivalent to the salary of 7,000.
The department outspent many others affiliated with the EGM, including the Intelligence Department, the Anti-Narcotics Crimes Department and the Counterterrorism Department, in the first half of the year.
The department also spent TL 526 million in 2022 ($19.5 million), TL 306 million in 2021 ($11.3 million) and TL 263 million ($9.7 million) in 2020.
Erdoğan’s large security detail, traveling with him in a convoy of more than 10 vehicles, has drawn criticism for extravagance due to the use of a number of luxury cars and also for making Erdoğan, who was called the “man of the people” in campaign slogans, inaccessible to the people.
The precise number of security personnel safeguarding President Erdoğan and the presidential premises has remained undisclosed for years, with queries from parliament members going unanswered.
The news of this expenditure comes against a backdrop of economic stress for many Turkish citizens. According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), between 2002 and 2021, 5,414 people died by suicide in Turkey due to financial issues. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, and in the last five years of this period, 1,411 suicides were reported.
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said in a circular sent to all public agencies that they should re-evaluate all expenditures, except for earthquake-related expenses, adding that cost-saving measures will be strictly enforced.
The circular reminded recipients of a presidential circular dated June 30, 2021 that emphasized the need for cost-saving in public institutions’ expenditures, a reduction of bureaucratic procedures and effective, economical and efficient use of public resources.