Feb. 25, 2014 - By BURAK EGE BEKDIL – Defense news
ANKARA — A critical Turkish meeting planned for today in which the government would discuss billions of dollars worth of programs and contracts has been put off amid new allegations of corruption against the government, officials said.
The meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey’s ultimate decision-making body in procurement, has been postponed to an unknown date.
“We will have to wait for the prime minister’s word as to when a meeting should gather,” a procurement official said.
The committee is chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Its other members are Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz; Gen. Necdet Ozel, chief of the military General Staff; and the country’s top procurement officer, Murad Bayar.
Topics would have included whether to proceed with Turkey’s indigenous fighter jet program, and a highly controversial decision to select a Chinese bidder for construction of the country’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system.
Other agenda items were a possible joint venture with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to develop an engine for what will become Turkey’s indigenous new-generation tank, a new logistical support ship and assault boats for the Navy.
Erdogan, who has been facing a slew of corruption allegations since December, got a fresh blow late on Feb. 24 when unidentified sources revealed wiretap recordings incriminating him on fresh charges. In a speech on Feb. 25, Erdogan denied the authenticity of those recordings.
The wiretap leaked into the Internet Feb. 24 and contained four phone conversations between Erdogan and his son dating back to Dec. 17, the day when massive graft raids were conducted by the police. In these recordings Erdogan is heard ordering his son to move all the cash stocks at his home to other locations.
The voice recordings have sent shockwaves through Turkish politics, prompting the Prime Minister’s Office to issue a statement denouncing a “manipulation” and calls from the opposition for resignation.