Turkish first lady’s handbag raises criticisms of excess

Turkish first lady Emine Erdoğan was criticised in her home country on Thursday when she was seen wearing a bag priced at $50,000 during a trip to Japan with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cumhuriyet reported on Thursday.

The $50,000 price tag, or over 288,000 Turkish liras, amounts to over a year’s salary for 11 people on minimum wage in Turkey.

"While the citizens struggle with price hikes, the Palace does not step back from luxury," Cumhuriyet said, referring to the 1,150-room presidential complex built under Erdoğan’s rule and completed in 2014, the same year he was elected president.

Turkey has been trying to recover from a currency crisis that peaked in August last year. The economy is still struggling, with high inflation and high unemployment major concerns.

The Erdoğan family and their close circles have come under criticism for their lavish lifestyle despite their humble and pious discourse.

In 2017, the Turkish Presidency Office released a statement in response to news reports accusing it of lavish excess, saying savings should not be made at the expense of reputation.