'President Erdoğan: The world's biggest real estate agent'

Back in 2005, President Erdoğan said it was "his duty to market his country." Official privatization data shows that it is one of the few promises he has kept.

K. Murat Yıldız / Duvar English 

Throughout the mass privatization process, which began in Turkey in 1986, there have been 70 billion dollars in sales as of 2021. Such privatization amounted to just 8 billion dollars in the 16 years leading up to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) taking power in 2002.

Yet, in the 19 years of AKP and Erdoğan rule, privatization sales have reached 62.3 billion dollars, prompting many in Ankara to call him the "biggest real estate agent in the world." 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Tekin Bingöl described the enormous privatization processes under Erdoğan as “plunder, looting and pillaging of people’s factories, industrial complexes and property” to Duvar English.

“They have depleted the treasury itself, the country is bankrupt and now they are thinking to sell the treasuries’ valuable properties around the country to cover up their mess. They are selling the country inch by inch,” Bingöl added.

According to data from the Privatization Administration (ÖİB), public shares in the capitals of nearly 400 organizations were sold in the name of privatization. Of the 46 billion dollars in sales from 1986 to 2019, 39 billion dollars were realized during Erdoğan’s AKP period.

Erdoğan’s self-described duty

In 2005, in response to widespread criticism of the privatization process and tenders such as the controversial Galataport Project, Erdoğan was quoted as saying, "It is my duty to market my country," and accusing his critics of being "illiberals and nationalists."

Recalling Erdoğan’s statement, Bingöl said, “we are not against legal and transparent privatization. We are against the plundering of public properties. It belongs to 83 million citizens, not to one person or one group of people.”

The number of properties and their size sold by the National Real Estate General Directorate alone are as follows:

2005 - 509 properties - 8.7 million square meters
2006 - 4.181 properties - 19.8 million square meters
2007 - 7.333 properties - 35.9 million square meters
2008 - 9,171 properties - 27.8 million square meters
2009 - 7.847 properties - 43.3 million square meters
2010 - 2.074 properties - 29.6 million square meters
2011 - 8.508 properties - 29.5 million square meters
2012 - 3.376 properties - 10.1 million square meters
2013 - 3.444 properties - 9.4 million square meters
2014 - 4.503 properties - 9.1 million square meters
2015 - 3.288 properties - 6.8 million square meters
2016 - 3.878 properties - 15.8 million square meters
2017 - 6,110 properties - 14.8 million square meters
2018 - 3.473 properties - 7.8 million square meters
2019 - 2,456 properties - 24.1 million square meters
2020 - 5.780 properties - 17.3 million square meters

Estates, factories, states enterprises sold

According to data from the Privatization Administration, over 3,000 properties belonging to state institutions were privatized and sold between 1986 and 2021. Of the total 3.9 billion dollars in sales, 3.7 billion dollars in sales, including properties of electricity distribution company (TEDAŞ), Sümer Holding, petrochemical holding (PETKİM), tobacco and alcoholic beverages company (TEKEL), and state sugar factories, were made during Erdoğan and AKP’s rule.

Property sales have continued under the title of "Announcement to the Investor" published in the Official Gazette by the Privatization Directorate (ÖİB) affiliated to the Ministry of Treasury under 10 different portfolios with thousands of properties listed on their website as of April 2021. In addition, there are more than 6,500 properties for sale by the National Real Estate General Directorate.

According to the National Real Estate General Directorate's data, at the end of 2020, there were 4.12 million properties registered in the name of the treasury. The treasury’s properties cover a total area of 2.72 billion square meters.

Privatization and sales continue despite pandemic

In the first four months of 2021, several privatization decisions were published on 11 different days. The sale of 75 previously privatized plots was approved, with a total area of 861,898 square meters. The sale of these properties, which were mostly in valuable touristic areas, brought in 7.98 million liras in revenue.

According to the General Directorate of National Real Estate data, there are 4.1 million properties registered under the treasury's name as of the end of 2020.

Between 2005 and 2020, 72,053 properties totaling 309 million square meters were sold under State Tender Law No. 2886. Furthermore, the area disposed of by institutional transfers, barter, grants, and incentives amounts to 1.5 billion square meters according to reports.

In the last five years, property sales totaled 12.4 billion liras, according to data. In 2016, 1.8 billion liras were earned, followed by 2.3 billion liras in 2017, 2.2 billion liras in 2018, 2.5 billion liras in 2019, and 3.3 billion liras in 2020.

Only last year, according to National Real Estate data, 8,300 auctions were held, resulting in the sale of 5,780 properties exceeding 17 million square meters. The management of treasury properties generated 6.62 billion liras in revenue as of the end of December 2020.

New sales ordered by government

The government ordered the sale of another 10,851 public properties in 68 provinces across Turkey in 2020, valued at 2.4 billion liras. 7,625 of those properties were sold for a total of 1.9 billion liras, and 1.28 billion liras were collected.

“We are asking the government and President Erdoğan not only where the Treasury's 128 billion dollars went, but also what happened to the 300 million square meters of our sold country, as well as people's properties, factories and industrial complexes,” Bingöl concluded.