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Turkey's Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials focused on the importance of attracting “foreigners with money” to invest in Turkish real estate, while speaking at a workshop aimed at tackling the issue of selling property to foreign nationals. The issue is a long standing polemic in Turkey with one side raising patriotic concerns, the other economic concerns.
Both Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar and the AKP’s deputy chair responsible for external affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, drew attention to the economic advantages that could be gained by attracting foreigners who exceed the average income level.
The remarks came at the opening of a Sept. 17 workshop on “Real Estate Acquisition by Foreigners and Assessment of the Impacts in Turkey,” a public research and development project, conducted jointly by Ankara University and the Directorate for Land Registry and Cadaster, and supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).
Bayraktar argued that easing regulations would enable “those with money” to come to Turkey, adding that they were expecting a total of $5 billion in revenue this year purely from real estate sales to foreigners.
600 families affected
Similarly, Çavuşoğlu underlined the economic aspect of the issue. “Foreigners pay for all expenses related to the property or properties that they have purchased from the region. An estimated 600 families are directly affected by this,” he said.
He also called the subject “an absolute dilemma” between those demanding that the government ease bureaucratic obstacles, and critics who go as far as to say, “You are selling the country.”
Çavuşoğlu also responded to speculation that Israeli citizens had been buying land in bulk from the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) area in Turkey, describing them as simply “urban legends.” GAP is a multi-sector integrated regional development project aimed at fostering sustainable development for people living in southeastern part of Turkey.
Speculation that Israeli citizens were increasingly laying claim to property on Turkish soil and that Israeli women were coming to the area to give birth had previously surfaced in the past, prompting a nationalist backlash. However, Çavuşoğlu stated that according to the law, citizenship is not guaranteed by birth, and that allegations of such vast purchases were ill-founded.
While the remarks did not provide any solid figures during the workshop, which had not finished by the time the Hürriyet Daily News went to press, officials told those present that they would publish the results of their work in October.
In May 2012, a law allowing foreigners to purchase real estate without requiring mutual consent between Turkey and their home country allowed a large number of countries, particularly Arab countries, to become eligible to buy property from Turkey. The result was $1.1 billion in revenue from real estate sales in May alone, four times the entire total for 2011, according to reports.
Turkish coastal areas are particularly popular among foreigners, with most buyers coming from Europe to buy properties in Alanya, Fethiye, Didim, Bodrum, Kuşadası and Ürgüp. Hurriyet Daily
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