Leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has called for supporters of the ruling party to scrutinize the lavish lifestyle of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, T24 news portal reported on Tuesday.
Speaking at the AK Party’s parliamentary group meeting Kilicdaroglu called on the voters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to listen to their conscience while deciding who to support by just looking at Erdogan’s way of life.
“[Please] put your hand on your conscience. What is that [Erdogan’s] luxury for? Erdogan turned into arrogance, living in his thousand-room palace, while [he was] living in a modest apartment in 2002 when he took office as party leader. [Look at those] Summer palaces, 1000-room winter palace, 13 flying palaces [airplanes]. While going somewhere, he goes with an army [of officials]. Hundreds of vehicles, thousands of police officers,” the opposition leader said.
The CHP leader claimed that Erdogan had previously promised to put an end to public executive cars in public institutions, however, today there are 717 vehicles for executives just at the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) while the number of IBB seniors shot to 643, according to reports by the Turkish Court of Accounts (Sayistay).
“My friends, AKP supporters! Do you think that [waste of money] is okay? Is it good to be arrogant? Waste is not [a source of] reputation nowhere across the world,” Kilicdaroglu argued, referring to a previous statement by the Turkish Presidency Office.
In 2017, the office released a statement in response to news reports on the presidency’s lavish excess which was recorded in official reports of the Sayistay at the time, saying that there should not be saving at the expense of reputation.
“Presidential activities have to suit Turkey’s dignity. All presidential services have been performed at a quality and cost in line with Turkey’s greatness and dignity,” the presidency said in its statement.
“Those, who are conscientious and ethical, should question this [AKP’s waste of money],” called out Kilicdaroglu.
White Palace: Symbol of Turkey’s prestige
Since the beginning, Erdogan’s presidential palace complex nicknamed Ak Saray, or White Palace, drew rebuff among his dissidents with its 1,100 rooms and an official price tag of 615$ million. Critics suggest the value is actually much higher.
On the other end, Erdogan thinks the palace is a symbol of Turkey’s importance in the region and beyond, calling it a ‘show of the country’s prestige’.
At the time, the Ankara chapter of the Chamber of Architects sued to halt the palace construction and won a court ruling saying the construction violated forest protection laws.
However, Erdogan ignored the ruling, inviting anyone who has ‘the power and the courage [to] come and demolish this building’.
Besides its constructional cost, the palace has been spending millions even daily.
According to a Sayistay’s report released in 2017, the palace’s spending per day was more than 1.8 million liras (around 300,000$).
This excludes the discretionary funds used by the president. The funds are allocated to the president to use without approval from the Turkish Parliament or any other state institution.