New Turkey, Reza Zarrab and foreign investors

New Turkey, Reza Zarrab and foreign investors

One of the most popular topics of the media right after elections is the answer to the question “Who cast his/her vote where?” As in any other aftermath of any election, we read in yesterday’s papers which celebrity cast their vote at which polling station. The polling center at Sedat Simavi Elementary School at Istanbul’s Beykoz district was, no doubt, one of the most colorful ones.  

Among those who cast their votes at the Beykoz polling station were Head of Boyner Holding Cem Boyner, former chair of the Turkish Industry & Business Association (TÜSİAD) Ümit Boyner, our famous pop star Sezen Aksu and the white t-shirt wearing Reza Zarrab, who came with an entourage of bodyguards.

We know of the Iranian-Azeri businessman through his marriage to singer Ebru Gündeş, his luxury yachts and exclusive cars. However, when the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption scandal erupted, we got to know Zarrab a little better, as he was arrested and thrown in jail due to his involvement. Despite being freed after 74 days and continuing to live his lavish life once again, he has never been acquitted in the eyes of the ordinary Turkish person.

If you are curious, you can ask any taxi driver you meet what they think of Zarrab. The opposition must be thinking the same because exactly one month ago, opposition deputy Umut Oran brought up the incident when a plane from Ghana carrying 1.5 tons of gold was stopped in Istanbul. Oran asked the Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı to resign and show the documents he had regarding the plane that was loaded with gold.

Well, the fact that this very “controversial” name Zarrab is out in the public so casually on election day and the fact that he answered reporters’ questions on who he voted for with the answer, “There was one candidate on the ballot paper. Were there any others?” Was a heartbreaking scene for me and for so many others I know.

Some questions come to mind when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentions that a new and stronger Turkey was born from the ballot box and that a person whose name is associated with corruption stands right next to the ballot box…

How successful will Turkey be in its combat against corruption in the new era?

Head of the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) Sinan Ülgen pointed this out in his article “Sleepless in Ankara: The Post-Erdoğan Government’s Big Challenges.”

According to Ülgen, Ankara will need to create a new narrative outlining Turkey’s economic future in tandem with a serious commitment to previously sidelined structural reforms and to make Turkey attractive to foreign investors.

To attract much-needed foreign direct investments, Turkish authorities will be forced to develop a more visible agenda for fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law, Ülgen said.

It looks like an answer to the image of Zarrab right next to the ballot box, whether there will be a fight against corruption in the New Turkey.