Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) group deputy chair Engin Altay has said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the "world's most expensive president," costing taxpayers millions of liras every year.
“Do you know how much is just the security personnel cost of the Presidency for 2020? It is 263.6 million liras. This state and our people are spending money to protect our President. Do not be scared Erdoğan; the era of coups is over, they are behind us. We would protect your life,” Altay said during a press conference held in parliament on March 3.
The CHP deputy said that two helicopters and 110 vehicles escort Erdoğan on the 6 km route between the presidential palace and parliament building every day.
“Would there be a more waste of money than this? It is just 6 km, only 6 km. You are already in the Turkish Republic's capital. 110 vehicles and two helicopters. What does this mean? That our President is expensive and costly,” he said.
Altay slammed Erdoğan over extravagant expenses, saying his presidential palace complex in the Beştepe district costs nation over 10 million liras per day.
“In summary, Turkey, which has been disgraced before the world with such an inflation level and with its collapsed economic indicators, is a country which is using the world's most expensive president,” he said.
Up to now, the Turkish government has refused to share with the public how much the presidential palace cost to build and how much is being spent to maintain it.
Erdoğan's residence complex is bigger than the White House in Washington, the Kremlin in Moscow and even the Palace of Versailles near Paris.
Erdoğan opened the palace on Aug. 30, 2014 after becoming president.
In March of last year, a report by Turkey's Court of Accounts had shown that 4.5 million liras was spent daily in 2018 for its expenses.
Altay likened Turkey to a “sinking ship” due to the government's policies, saying the country “cannot be saved” with the new “tale of Human Rights Action Plan.”
“You cannot save a sinking ship by the tale of Human Rights Action Plan, the song of space, folk song [türkü] of a locally-made airplane, joke of new Constitution and locally-made tank,” Altay said, referring to Erdoğan's pledges on improvements in the country.
“How would it be saved? There is one prescription of salvation from this point onwards, which is that Turkey gets rid of Erdoğan first. Whoever you place him with would recover Turkey's economy,” he said.
Erdoğan on March 2 unveiled the government's “Human Rights Action Plan” which he said would strengthen rights to a fair trial and freedom of expression in Turkey. He said that the plan would also improve the judicial system and form the first step towards a new constitution.
Critics however have pointed out that the plan has failed to address measures to tackle the issues of arbitrary detentions, prosecutions and convictions despite Turkey being a country in which thousands of people are jailed on bogus terrorism charges.
Altay questioned Erdoğan's sincerity with regards to the plan, saying he should first apologize to Boğaziçi University students, whom the president has been labeling as “terrorists” over their protest of the new rector Melih Bulu.
Altay also pointed out the ongoing arrest of philanthropist Osman Kavala amid talks of reform. “The issue of Osman Kavala is a complete legal disaster. He has been in prison for the last 1,200 days. First of all, you [Erdoğan] should have said, 'We have made a mistake in holding him in an unfair and unlawful way,' and then we would have looked at what your plan consists of,” he said.
The CHP MP also recalled that 900 minors have appeared before the court in a span of six years over charges of “insulting” Erdoğan. During Erdoğan's tenure as president, a record number of cases over “insult” charges were launched.
“Are you the one who is going to talk about human rights?” Altay asked, addressing Erdoğan.