Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under fire after moving into a luxury presidential palace which costs more than $700 million.
Mr Erdogan has been accused of absurd extravagance and been labelled a ‘sultan’ for his use of the palace which is twice the size of Versailles.
“The so-called sultan has built this for himself in a country where three million people are without work. You cut down hundreds of trees to build yourself this palace,” the leader of the opposition Republican People’s party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu told The Telegraph UK.
The presidential pad known as the Ak Saray or White Palace spans more than 289,000 square metres.
The palace is larger than the current Guinness World Record holder, the residence of the Sultan of Brunei.
Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek confirmed the cost of the residence blew out to $A711 million (1.37 billion Turkish lira).
This included over 300 million lira ($135 million) that has been allocated in the budget for 2015, he added, a steep rise on previously quoted price tag of $350 million.
The presidential palace, inaugurated last week, was originally intended for the prime minister.
Aside from its hefty price tag, the palace is also controversial for environmental reasons.
Sitting on a forested hill overlooking Ankara, the palace was constructed in a national park, in breach of court orders.
“The so-called sultan has built this for himself in a country where three million people are without work.” – Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Republican People’s Party Leader
As well as decking out the new palace– the president also splashed out on a private Airbus, customised to his own specifications, at a cost of more than $200 million.
The post of president has been a largely ceremonial in Turkey until Erdogan took office in August after over a decade as prime minister.
He vowed to wield real power, something he has clearly done in his first weeks in office, clearly remaining Turkey’s number one. Civil servants and advisors working for the president are also likely to be housed in the palace.
Mr Erdogan appears unapologetic for the building, reportedly telling a meeting of the ruling AK Party on March 5, “No one can prevent the completion of this building. If they are powerful enough, let them come and demolish it.