Turkish government elects honorary advisors for overseas

Turkish government elects honorary advisors for overseas

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish government elects honorary advisors for overseas

Merve Kavakçı, who was elected as a in 1999 but was prevented from taking the parliamentary oath, speaks in front of a parliamentary panel on military coups.

All members of the 70-seated Overseas Turks Advisory Board by the Directorate of Overseas Turks under the Prime Ministry (YTB) have been elected from around 650 voluntary applications, the head of the YTB said.

The members of the board are either senior officials from public institutions who provide services to Turks living abroad, or are prominent Turks living abroad. The board will advise the YTB about the problems of Turks living abroad and will coordinate efforts to resolve these problems.

The 10 people who were elected as honorary members in addition to the advisory board were proposed by the YTB and eventually elected by Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who is in charge of the body, YTB President Kemal Yurtnaç told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The names on the boards were announced late December. Merve Kavakçı from the U.S., Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, and Remzi Gür from Britain are among the honorary members of the board.

Before being founded as a separate institution under the Prime Ministry in 2010, the YTB functioned as an undersecretariat under the Prime Ministry since 1998.

“This is the first time that we have elected such a board since being founded in 2010. Members of the board will not work like official representatives abroad and they will not have offices to which citizens can file complaints. The members of the board are individuals who already know the society they are living in and they will make proposals to us accordingly for solutions to the problems of overseas Turks,” Yurtnaç said, adding that the function and activities of the board would be shaped in due course.

Controversial name
U.S. honorary member Kavakçı was elected as an Istanbul deputy from the Virtue Party (FP) in 1999, but was prevented from taking the parliamentary oath on the grounds that she was wearing a headscarf. Her citizenship was subsequently annulled over an argument that she was a citizen of the United States. The incident triggered a move for the closure of the FP by the Constitutional Court, which eventually dissolved the party in June 2001.

Kent, meanwhile, heads the advisory board of World Turkish Business Council in addition to his position as CEO of Coca-Cola. The World Turkish Business Council operates under the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK).

U.K. member Remzi Gür, chairman of the Gürmen Group, is a close friend of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Gür’s name made headlines several years ago when it was revealed that he was a sponsor of Erdoğan’s daughters when they were studying in the United States.