Turkish businessman warns of ‘Feb 28-like’ prejudices

Turkish businessman warns of ‘Feb 28-like’ prejudices

Turkish businessman warns of ‘Feb 28-like’ prejudices

Boydak says the government shouldn’t take sides in the business realm. DHA photo

A prominent Turkish businessperson, Mustafa Boydak, has called on the government not to separate businesses based on political ideas and said the country should protect the companies “carrying Turkey,” referring to the largest local business group, Koç Holding, which has been hit by several official probes after being criticized for its stance in the recent anti-government protests.

“The government shouldn’t take sides in its issues with the business realm, and we shouldn’t relive the 1990s as some circles have been claiming. You all will remember the Feb. 28 process,” said Boydak, deputy chairman of Boydak Holding, speaking at the monthly meeting of the Kayseri Chamber of Industry, which he chairs.

The “Feb. 28 process,” also known as the “post-modern coup,” refers to an army-led secularist campaign which forced the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to step down in June 1997.
Many companies affiliated with the Erbakan government and his political views were imposed with harsh sanctions at that time upon the military’s pressure.

“A misperception of some groups and companies appeared then [during the Feb. 28 process]. We shouldn’t apply the exact opposite of that misperception today,” Boydak said, calling on both the government and businesspeople not engage in political disputes. “Let’s not make segregations like ‘you’re my enemy, you’re not’ in the business world. We can overcome the economy-related problems somehow, you shall not doubt that,” he said.

Support to Koç

Boydak is a prominent Anatolian businessman based in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, also the hometown of the President Abdullah Gül, and is known to have a close relationship with the president. His holding is in partnership with Yıldız Holding - another large group affiliated with political views similar to the government’s - in Islamic bank Türkiye Finans. İstikbal, one of Boydak’s furniture firms, is currently listed among the world’s top 10 furniture manufacturer firms.

His brother and the CEO of Boydak Holding, Memduh Boydak recently became the deputy chairman of Turkey’s leading business group, the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD).

Boydak and his fellows, sometimes referred to as “Anatolian tigers,” are regarded as a key force behind the economic and political rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Although he didn’t mention any names, his latest remarks seem to come as support to the Koç family, which has at times had an uneasy relationship with the government. On July 24, police officers and Finance Ministry tax inspectors raided the offices of two Koç-controlled companies, Turkey’s sole refiner Tüpraş and energy company Aygaz, over tax-related allegations. The public has questioned whether the probe is part of a witch-hunt against the group, which had been slammed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about its stance on the Gezi Park protests.

Moreover, some Turkish dailies reported that government authorities are close to completing a probe into competition conditions in the national warship (MİLGEM) project tender, won by Koç Holding’s enterprise RMK Marine, much sooner than expected. The defense procurement body had picked RMK to build six corvettes within the program. After complaints from companies claiming to have been excluded from the tender process, the Prime Ministry Inspection Board kicked off an investigation into the process. An assessment report on the probe results, which was expected to be prepared in three months, was close to being finalized in just one month. It will be presented to a meeting to be held at the end of this month.

Erdoğan has repeatedly criticized Divan Hotel, owned by Koç, for opening its doors to protesters fleeing police tear gas during weeks of anti-government demonstrations last month. Some analysts have warned it could face sanctions.

Speaking at a ceremony on July 26, Ali Koç, a board member of Koç Holding, noted that his company accounted for 9 percent of the Turkish economy and 9.4 percent of corporate tax paid to the government. “That being the case, it’s out of the question that we want or aim for anything other than the development of the Turkish economy and for Turkey to become the leader in its region,” he said.