Ak Saray Palace

The Presidential Complex (Turkish: Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi)[1] is the presidential residence of the Republic of Turkey. The complex is located in the Beştepe neighborhood of Ankara, inside the Atatürk Forest Farm.

In accordance with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "New Turkey" concept, it was envisaged that the Çankaya Presidential Mansion would become the prime ministerial complex and the president would move to the newly built palace. It was formally inaugurated as the official residence of the president by Erdoğan on the country's Republic Day, 29 October 2014.

President Erdoğan proposed to call the new presidential residence Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi, referring to a traditional complex centered on a mosque. This was formally adopted as the residence's official name on 3 July 2015.[6] The building cost was double the initial estimate of more than US$600 million. The Presidential Complex is home to the country's largest library with five million books.

The building was constructed inside the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ), which was established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1925. In 1937, President Atatürk, acting as the Mareşal, donated the farm to the state. In 1992 the farm was designated a first-degree protected site meaning that no construction should be done within its territory. On 4 March 2014, an administrative court in Ankara ordered the suspension of the palace's construction. The suspension order was supported by the Turkish Council of State on 13 March. Erdoğan ignored the decision, saying "Let them tear it down if they can. They ordered suspension, yet they can't stop the construction of this building. I'll be opening it; I'll be moving in and using it".

Finance minister Mehmet Şimşek, quoted by Turkey's Hürriyet newspaper, said the construction cost of the palace would be 1.37bn ₺ ($615m), most of which had already been spent, but another $135m had been budgeted for it in 2015. In December 2014, Turkey's state-owned Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) refused to divulge the actual construction cost on the grounds that releasing the information could hurt Turkey's economy, citing Article 17 of the Law on the Provision of Information. Tezcan Candan, head of the Turkish Chamber of Architects' Ankara branch, said the final cost could be over 5 billion lira.

The government has been criticised for the presidential palace due to its high cost and lavish furnishings. Opposition parties have ramped up their objection to Turkey's presidential palace, set to cost more than half a billion US dollars. The complex was pejoratively called Ak Saray (meaning "White Palace") as a reference to Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). Due to its construction being barred by the courts yet continuing regardless and alleged corruption, it is regularly referred to by some opposition politicians and supporters as the Kaçak Saray (meaning "Illegal Palace").

According to the Ankara branch of the Chamber of Architects, the cost of the imported window glass is more than TL 700 million. The figure, based on estimates provided by glass suppliers on the cost of glass with similar qualities, is about half of the total official cost of the entire palace, TL 1.37 billion. There was also controversy due to the extensive use of imported marble at Euro 3,000 per square meter. According to a statement released by the Ankara branch of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), Bizassa marble imported from Italy will be used to decorate pools, bathhouses, saunas, and spas within the palace. The presidential palace had a natural gas bill of TL 2.4 million between October 2014 and May 2015, according to records released to the public. TMMOB also claims that 63 elevators and a number of carpets in the palace cost a total of TL 31.2 million, while gold-inlaid glasses found at the palace reportedly cost TL 1,000 each. Critics call the lavishness a waste of budgetary funds while Erdoğan has shrugged off the criticism, insisting that the palace, which he said will be called the "Presidential Complex," boosts Turkey's reputation.

On 10 July 2015, the Turkish Council of State found that the construction of the palace violated the law and ordered it to be vacated. However, the Presidency has stated that the decision is ultra-vires, citing Article 105(2) of the Constitution, which reads "No appeal shall be made to any judicial authority, including the Constitutional Court, against the decisions and orders signed by the President of the Republic on his/her own initiative".

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