Turkey’s housing authority to sell lands belonging to Ankara’s Atatürk Forest Farm

Turkey’s Chamber of Architects have discovered that the Public Housing Development Administration (TOKI) is planning to sell farm land in Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ) in Ankara in an auction in September, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Thursday.

Activists have said the sale of the lands would be illegal, since a court had previously ordered TOKI to return ownership of the land to the AOÇ.

The forest farm was established in 1925 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, as a private farm. It is a recreational area, which houses several small agricultural farms, greenhouses, restaurants, a dairy farm and a brewery. Today it also hosts the presidential complex built in accordance with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “New Turkey” concept.

Some parts of the AOÇ were allocated to Gazi University in Ankara in 1983 to build a medical school. The university later transferred the land to TOKI for the construction. Turkey’s Court of Accounts said in 2011 that the agreement between the university and TOKI had been unlawful and asked TOKI to return the land, but TOKI has so far not followed this instruction.

Tezcan Karakuş Candan, the head of the Chamber of Architects Ankara branch, told DW that the land had been turned into a housing area in 2012 by a change made in Ankara municipality’s master plan. After a regional court in Ankara in 2014 abolished the changes made in the master plan, TOKI sold 37,000 square metre of the land to the United States embassy. 

“Now the lots of land TOKİ holds have been changed and the lands that should have been returned to the AOÇ will be sold in an auction on September 5. We cannot accept this unlawfulness,” Candan said.