The old Turkish word Külliye, coming from Arabic, meaning building complex, has increased in relevance recently. There are symbolic meanings to the introduction of this Arabic word into political terminology. Many of us first heard of this word in our social studies classes in elementary school or in history lessons. After that, it was largely absent from our lives. That is, until the Beştepe complex, officially named the Presidential Complex was built on the land of the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ), a farming area founded by Atatürk in 1925 in the west of Ankara. This complex is one of the last nails in the coffin the AOÇ has been forcibly stuffed into. This private farm was symbolized “making the impossible possible” under the dire conditions in Ankara at the time. Since, however, the Presidential Palace has been built on top of it.
President Erdoğan argued that the palace and its complex was built for ‘prestige.’ The külliye has been discussed ever since regarding its ‘ungraceful’ use of construction and building materials, its ceremony squad who are dressed in ridiculous costumes reminiscent of a middle school theatre production, its extravagance, and 1,001 rooms and mosque.
As we near the centennial of the Republic of Turkey, this ‘prestige’ or ‘reputation’ was built for Erdoğan alone, and for Erdoğan’s ‘new Turkey.’
It was built and located on top of an initiative taken to prove that a modern republic and regime was possible in post-Ottoman Turkey, in the middle of Anatolia. The palace was first named ‘Ak Saray’ after his party’s name, as in Ak Party. Its official name replaced by ‘Külliye’ giving it a strong Islamic content. To maintain this prestige, every month, millions of Turkish Liras come out of the pockets of the poor people of Turkey. This splendor, advocated for by prestige it supposedly generated, is an object of shame and obscenity for millions of citizens. The palace is like a headquarters against the republic and democracy, in accordance with Turkey’s new regime, bearing on all the nationalist and conservative fantasies we read in our elementary school textbooks.
The main palace’s reputation must not have been adequate, so Erdoğan built another on the shores of Lake Van, in eastern Turkey. This building was unlawful as it circumvented the constitution. The official guest residence in Marmaris, on the Aegean coast was transformed into a summer palace in such a way that it put an additional financial burden on the poor people. What is all this extravaganza for? Is it for prestige? Or, is it to further nurture the fellow contractors, the benefit centers that support the AKP-MHP alliance?
Among those theories analyzing the transition of the Ottomans to the classical imperial order, the fact that Mehmet II distanced himself from his court and started listening to the court debates without being seen by them has been attributed to the sultan’s absolutization. Erdoğan’s obsession with ‘prestige’ may be associated with a personal fantasy in accordance with the nature of the regime and his desire not to encounter any power that would test his strength. What else does he have apart from majestic stone buildings where he can hoard said prestige, his cabinet ministers, his policy board members, and university rectors kowtowing? Let’s not do an injustice to him; he also delivers good news upon occasion.
In fact, the reason for this article is related to the most recent good news he bestowed upon us. The statement that was made by the person representing the Republic of Turkey in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), where Turkish foreign policy agents strive to be recognized as an independent state all over the world, was as follows:
“As is known, the TRNC Presidency has neither a proper presidential building nor a complex (külliye), nor a proper parliament building. We don't think this is suitable for the TRNC. The building at the current Presidential Complex is a British slum. The project work on the Presidential Complex is finished. Hopefully we will start building soon. We have allocated 500 acres of land for this purpose. We’re going to build these complexes, and also, we will build a really great nation garden (city garden) there; let’s do it. When I say that, my heart tells me that this is the expression of a state. Hopefully, by implementing this project, certain people will recognize that the Turkish Cypriots have a state.”
Two things can be drawn from what Erdoğan has openly said. First, he equates being a state to owning palaces. He said he would export the regime he established in Turkey to Northern Cyprus. Second, he does not recognize the presence of Northern Cyprus as an independent state.
Turkish Republicans seek glory in the power of institutions that guarantee rights and freedoms and source their authority from class struggle.
These love affairs with palaces and good news – which you could also call giving favors - are the two things that best symbolize the anti-republican nature of the new Turkish regime.