Monday, October 6, 2008

Land ownership in Turkey

One particularity of overall landownership profile in Turkey is the high proportion of land owned by the state, either directly, under the authority of the Undersecretariat of Treasury (Hazine in daily language), or indirectly through the inheritance and management of Ottoman foundations (vakıf), under the authority of the General Directorate for Foundations. Vakıf (Foundation) lands is the real estate legated by their original proprietors, often centuries ago, for the purpose of the upkeep of a public building, a community service, a particular person or a group of persons. Foundations also constitute part of the assets held by Vakıfbank, a bank originally founded with the purpose of putting the foundations in value for the economy of Turkey and named in reference to them. Hazine (Treasury) lands are those, often covering vast areas in rural Turkey, for which no private ownership is recorded at any time, imperial legacies that did not fall within the scope of foundations, or land that passed over to state ownership through many possible reasons.
Therefore, unlike many other European countries where most of the land area is privately owned, much of the land in Turkey is still held by the state. One aspect of this situation is the simplification of procedures in the case of public works or investments that are envisaged where, instead of costly expropriations, correspondence between ministries is often sufficient to make suitable land easily available for projected works. Another is the constantly re-surging plans by various governments to make one or other particular part or type of state land available for private sector use and development. These issues of land-grant become particularly sensitive when the land in question is important for fauna or flora in environmental terms, for irrigation, for any other public use, or when conflicts of interest arise or private interests influencing government plans are detected by the opposition groups. Notwithstanding occasionally heated debates on the matter, by complying with basic public relations principles, vast parcels of land do become available to investors in Turkey through the consent of governments pursuing encouraging policies to the effect.

No comments: