Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his newly-built presidential palace, which has drawn much criticism for its lavishness, has more than 1,150 rooms, not 1,000 as claimed.
Responding to criticism by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who lashed out at the president for wasting the nation’s money, Erdoğan said the CHP leader is wrong when saying the palace has 1,000 rooms. “You are saying that it [the palace] has 1,000 rooms and you are wrong. It has more than 1,150 rooms, not 1,000. He [Kılıçdaroğlu] does not even know that,” Erdoğan said on Saturday during a speech at the General Assembly Meeting organized by the Anatolian Lion’s Business Association (ASKON).
Erdoğan said the state cannot save money on issues related to its prestige as he defended the construction of the palace which is also known as “Ak Saray.”“This palace does not belong to me, it belongs to the nation,” he said, claiming that the critics “cannot digest the nation’s palace.” He also argued that there are many other “similar palaces” in the world, arguing that the Buckingham Palace, for example, cost some $7-8 billion.
The lavish Ak Saray palace has been at the center of heated debates. Built at a cost of TL 1.37 billion ($615 million) and constructed on 300,000 square meters inside the Atatürk Forestry Farm (AOÇ) in Ankara, the palace has been the target of harsh criticism for its lavishness and size considering its function as the residence of the president, which is a symbolic position in Turkey.