Müzeyyen Yüce/ DUVAR

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted a bill to parliament with 37 articles, including one that would enable the construction of a presidential palace in the historic town of Ahlat on the coast of Lake Van, the country’s largest lake. 

With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s instructions, coastal laws were altered via a regulation in January of last year, potentially paving the way for the construction of the palace in Ahlat, which would involve filling in part of the coastline. 

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) filed a lawsuit in the Constitutional Court to cancel this regulation, and the court ruled on the behalf of the CHP and cancelled it, emphasizing in its decision that coastlines must be open for the public to use. 

A month late, while speaking in Ahlat, Erdoğan spoke out in defiance of the decision, saying he aimed to go through with the plan: 

“Even if some people are bothered by it and try to prevent it, we will bring this in to the district. Adjacent to the Ahlat complex we will built a few boutique hotels,” Erdoğan said. 

The government has claimed that its legislation that aims to change coastal laws is for the purpose of contributing to the development of the region. 

“Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s passion for the palace has reached a very high threshold. The constitution does not recognize palace desire. The head of the AKP defends a position of ‘unity of powers’ rather than ‘separation of powers.’ Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, by insisting on a law that is in violation of the constitution, has once again shown the public that he does not recognize the concept of separation of powers,” CHP deputy Özgür Özel said. 

“I believe that those who govern Turkey need to act in accordance with the decisions made by the Consitutional Court. No one is given special preference. If lawless development is heading for Ahlat, than I am against it. We are on the side of the law. If a presidential palace is going to be built, it must be done in accordance with coastal laws,” said opposition right-wing Good Party (İP) deputy İbrahim Halil Oral.