Middle East

Erdogan plans palace swap with Turkish prime minister

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan smiles during a news conference with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu (not pictured) in Northern Cyprus September 1, 2014. Erdogan paid his first visit abroad as head of state to Northern Cyprus on Monday and said the window of opportunity will not remain open forever for a "two state solution" in the country. REUTERS/Andreas Manolis

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he wants to move out of the presidential palace used by the head of state for over 90 years to a brand new building originally intended for the prime minister, reports said Wednesday.

Under the plan, new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his administration would move into the presidential palace which is known as the Cankaya after the Ankara district where it is located.

Erdogan became president Thursday after over a decade as prime minister and the idea adds to the impression he plans little change to his style of ruling Turkey as head of state.

“I’ll continue to reside in the Cankaya Palace for a while,” Erdogan told reporters before heading on a trip to Azerbaijan.

“And then, as the president’s office, we are planning to move into the newly built buildings” initially planned for the prime minister’s office. According to the plan, our prime minister will move to the president’s residence,” he said, referring to the Cankaya.

The vast new structure where Erdogan wants to move is being built on the outskirts of Ankara and is controversial because hundreds of trees were cut even though it was one of the best preserved green spaces in the city.

It has 1,000 rooms with a total surface area of 200,000 square meters and the building itself is 40,000 square meters.

The construction began a year ago and is near complete. Erdogan in March defied a court order halting the construction.

Turkey’s modern founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk moved into the Cankaya residence in the early 1920s and it has been the base of the Turkish presidency ever since.

The post of president in Turkey has been a largely ceremonial role in recent years but Erdogan has vowed to transform the position and wield strong executive power.

Moving out of the Cankaya palace would be another strong signal of Erdogan’s determination to be a different kind of president.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 04, 2014, on page 10.




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