France ‘supported protests at airport’

France ‘supported protests at airport’

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
France ‘supported protests at airport’

This file photo shows a front view of the Adnan Menderes Airport in the Aegean province of İzmir. Turkey’s TAV has won a tender to develop and run the facility.DHA photo

The French Embassy in Tunisia supported protests at an airport run by a Turkish company in Tunisia’s capital city in a bid to even out fierce competition in post-revolt North African countries, according to a top executive of the Turkish operator.

“Some Tunisians did not like the idea that a Turkish firm was running their airports,” said Mustafa Sani Şener, chief executive of Tepe Akfen Venture (TAV) Airports Holding in a speech delivered at a Middle East and North Africa building strategies conference organized by Koç University in Istanbul on Nov. 25.

“We know that the French Embassy in Tunisia has supported the sit-in protests that took place in Monastir Habib Bourguiba,” which is operated by TAV along with Enfidha Airport in the country, Şener said. However, he did not give further details on the claim.

A group of Tunisians were assembled Oct. 4 under a tent in a corner of the front parking lot at Monastir Airport, accusing TAV of disrespecting the clauses of a concession contract, according to Tunisian media reports. The protesters claimed the Turkish investor was not supposed to make use of the Monastir Airiport as the deal was signed during the former regime, which has no legitimacy.

“Still, I know that Tunisians have good relations with Turkey,” Şener said. The Arab Spring has changed the investment climate in North African and Middle Eastern countries, he said, and “first we talk about real foreign direct investment in these countries. There will be growing opportunities for investors in post-revolution countries.”

Recently, the company signed a contract for operating Medina Airport in Saudi Arabia. TAV also won the tender for the operating rights of Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport until the end of 2032 for 610 million euros. The company, which will invest 250 million euros in the airport, plans to borrow 300 million euros from local and international banks, according to Şener.