Council of State decides presidential palace illegal

The Council of State has annulled an earlier decision by the Ankara Regional Conservation of Cultural Properties Council to reduce the degree of environmental protection granted to SiT areas — environmentally protected sites where construction is restricted or forbidden — confirming once again the illegality of President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s presidential palace, known as the Ak Saray.
Constructed inside the Atatandurk Forestry Farm (AOandc) on 300,000 square meters of land, the Ak Saray has been at the center of heated debates, as Erdogan ignored a number of court orders to halt construction. The Ankara Regional Conservation of Cultural Properties Council changed on Feb. 18 of last year Regulation No. 271, which regulates the utilization of environmentally protected sites, paving the way for the construction of the palace by reducing the degree of environmental protection of the AOandc.
However, the Administrative Committee of the Council of State drew a line in the sand yesterday when it decided unanimously that SiT areas are protected against any kind of and”constructional investment.and” The decision re-affirmed the illegality of the Ak Saray as it was constructed within the AOandc, where construction is restricted or forbidden due to its environmentally protected status. The palace has been dubbed the and”Kaandcand’Ak-Saray,and” calling to mind the Turkish word and”kaandcak,and” which means runaway or illegal, in a play on words intended to highlight the illegality of the construction.
This is not the first time that a court confirmed the illegality of the presidential palace. On March 5 of last year, an Ankara court ordered its construction to be halted. However, then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan challenged the court decision and dismissed those who had called on the Ankara Governorand’s Office to halt construction of the palace. andquotIf they have the power, let them destroy it,andquot Erdogan said, after the court decision requiring construction to be stopped.
Two ministries, along with the Prime Ministry, appealed the court decision but the Ankara 5th Regional Administrative Court rejected on April 17 the appeals and reiterated its decision in favor of halting construction.
On Feb. 18, the Ankara 11th Administrative Court reversed a decision by the Ankara Regional Conservation of Cultural Properties Council to reduce the degree of environmental protection granted to the historic Ankara forest, in effect halting the construction of the new Prime Ministry building.
On March 5, the court annulled a decision made on Feb. 2, 2012, that changed the first-degree environmentally protected zone to a third-degree protected zone. The controversial re-zoning of the AOandc in 2012 allowed construction on the property. On March 5, the court notified the Prime Ministry and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the decision.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman