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European Court Asks Turkey’s Defense Over Cost of Presidential Palace

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) requested Turkey’s defense in a lawsuit filed by the country’s Chamber of Architects (CAT) regarding their appeal for the Turkish government to disclose the building cost of the highly controversial presidential palace, the daily Sozcu reported on Wednesday.

ECtHR reportedly admitted the application by the Ankara branch of CAT, which asserted that the Freedom of Information law is being violated.

The top court asked Turkey to provide its defense for not revealing the construction costs of the presidential palace.

Speaking to Sozcu, Tezcan Karakus Candan, the head of CAT Ankara, said that a new legal process has kicked off with ECtHR’s acceptance of the application.

“We have started a legal battle for our right to information, because of the attitude that ignored us and did not give us information based on the freedom of information law, Candan said, adding that it is a significant development that the ECtHR is “opening the issue to discussion,” Candan said.

According to the report, the Turkish government is required to present its defense to the court within the next three months.

The new presidential palace has been at the center of heated debates of “legality” since it was opened in 2014. The 1,000-room complex was built in the Ataturk Forest Farm, which is an environmentally protected zone.

In 2015, Turkish Council of State ruled that the building, which was originally meant as the prime minister’s official residence, violated the law due to the nature of the protected green area. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly defied the court’s decision, vowing to keep the complex.

The presidential palace, which is located in the Bestepe neighborhood in Ankara, is claimed to have cost over 600 million dollars, and often criticized by the opposition parties for its lavishness.

Turkish Court of Accounts released a report early in October, stating that the palace’s spending per day was more than 1.8 million TL in 2017.

In the meantime, Turkish media reported on Wednesday that Erdogan’s monthly salary will be raised by 26 percent in 2019, bringing the amount from 69,000 TL to 74,500 TL.

Minimum monthly salary in the country is currently 1,600 TL.

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