He holds the secret of the Çamlıca Mosque: Environment and Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum
Murat Kurum, the Minister of Environment and Urbanisation in Erdoğan’s new cabinet, is one of the high-level civil servants to fall foul of the Gulenists’ surveillance in the 17-25 December period. Kurum, whose intercepted calls to Minister of Urbanisation Erdoğan Bayraktar were placed in the investigation file, was chairman at the time of Emlak Konut Real Estate Investment Company. One of the most interesting calls between Bayraktar, who confirmed the records while testifying to the commission in parliament, and Kurum had to do with the Çamlıca Mosque, one of the projects in which President Erdoğan took a special interest. Bayraktar’s instruction in this call to Emlak Konut Real Estate Investment Company Chair Murat Kurum for the price of the mosque tender to be reduced and Bayraktar’s comment, “We’ll give a dinner and collect the money” in the interception records contained in the case reports are of note
Date: 11 March 2013. Figures who fell foul of FETO’s illegal surveillance: Environment and Urbanisation Minister at the time Bayraktar and Emlak Konut Real Estate Investment Company Chair at the time Murat Kurum. The subject: “Çamlıca Mosque:”
“Erdoğan Bayraktar: Now, you can do this mosque’s tender but he says bring this down a bit more. He says the figure seemed a bit high. 114 seemed high but it can’t be brought down much because, you know, it’s the cost. This is the cost price, isn’t it?
Murat Kurum: Of course, minister, I mean, they’re expecting one lira for one, that is, no profit. They say no, they’ll give it. And, then you see, we’ve brought this down from the 140’s, from the hundred and somethings. I mean, our situation in the erm is not precisely clear. The progress payments here are an extra five million. Progress payments...
E.B.: Has five hundred thousand lira entered the account?
M.K.: Yes, it has.
E.B.: Right, OK, we’ll now have a look at that. We’ll find the money, mate. We’ll give a dinner and collect it from the people, mate.
M.K.: Yes, perhaps that way.
E.B.: I mean, do this, you. If you can bring it down a bit more, do so. It’s a mosque. It’s a good deed. I mean the guys ... I don’t want the guys to earn money. Let him earn something like three or five per cent, you know, the guy’s hungry. He’s going to do such a big job, you know. They’ll earn a bit from the side jobs.”
The mosque’s opening was to be held last Night of Power, however, the opening was postponed due to environmental regulations and certain deficiencies. The mosque is expected to be opened for prayer by Erdoğan during Eid el-Adha next month.
The examiner of preferential planning permissions: Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) joined the “preferential planning permission” proceedings over a hospital owned by the Minister of Health in the new cabinet, Fahrettin Koca, as a party siding with the minister. The party to emerge smiling from the ten-year process has become a new minister. The “preferential planning permission” lawsuit between CHP member of the IMM Assembly at the time, Hüseyin Sağ, and Medipolitan Sağlık ve Eğitim Hizmetleri A.Ş., a subsidiary of Medipol hospitals, went on for years. On 30 December 2007, the IMM Assembly approved an amendment to the 1/5000-scale Master Plan with reference to Üsküdar sub-province, sheet 82, block 49, lots 1 and 2. However, Sağ brought the matter before the judiciary in 2008 stating that the amendment to the plan made for a private hospital on the land opposite Medical Park in Göztepe was not in the public interest and had been arranged with Medipol hospitals in mind.
The Council of State ruled in Sağ’s favour in 2015. At just this point a curious development took place. It was the IMM that applied to the top court for “rectification of the decision.” Medipolitan, in turn, lined up with IMM as an intervening party. The application for rectification of the decision came before Chamber 6 of the Council of State, which had ruled in Sağ’s favour. Three of the chamber members had changed. There remained only the presiding judge and one member from the bench that had issued the initial ruling. The Chamber ruled in 2017 by majority vote to overturn its own decision. Presiding judge Habibe Ünal was to write the following in her dissenting opinion: “I dissent from our Chamber’s decision with my vote that the rectification of the decision application warrants dismissal since the matters adduced in the decision rectification submission do not conform to any of the grounds set out in the said statutory article.”
The speedy rise of the lucky son-in-law: Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak
Treasury and Finance Minister in the new cabinet, Berat Albayrak, embarked on his professional life in 1999 at Çalık Holding and underwent a meteoric rise. Albayrak, who married President Tayyip Erdoğan’s eldest daughter Esra Erdoğan in 2004, started his true passage upwards following this. Having completed an MBA at Pace University in New York, Albayrak became part of Çalık Holding as a Treasury Expert in 1999. Berat Albayrak was made Director of Finance at Çalık Holding’s US office in 2002. In 2004, he became the conglomerate’s US country manager. On returning to Turkey, he started working at Çalık Holding at which his big brother Serhat Albayrak was also CEO. In 2004 when President Tayyip Erdoğan was Prime Minister, he married the latter’s eldest daughter Esra Erdoğan. When his big brother moved to Star Newspaper as CEO, he was appointed as deputy for the vacated post.
Albayrak then became CEO of Çalık Holding in 2007. Albayrak continued in this post until the end of 2013. It also emerged from the Paradise Papers that were released in November 2017 and revealed the off-shore accounts of the world’s most prominent elites that many off-shore companies affiliated to the holding had been established at the time Berat Albayrak and his big brother Serhat Albayrak were managers at Çalık Holding. According to the papers, which Cumhuriyet published, with Serhat Albayrak serving as director at the company Frocks International Trading established in Malta in January 2003, the company appeared to be active until January 2009. Berat Albayrak was also CEO at Çalık Holding between 2006-2013. Other Çalık Holding staff numbered among officials at the sad company, too. Berat Albayrak entered active politics as an AKP parliamentary candidate for Istanbul in the 7 June 2015 elections.
ALBAYRAK’S FIRST ACT: BANNING A TWEET
A lawsuit was instituted against our newspaper’s economic reporter and Journalists Union of Turkey member Pelin Ünker for the report titled “The Off-Shore Brothers” that she made about Albayrak, at that time Energy Minister. Prior to the hearing heard on 21 June, the Journalists Union of Turkey made the post on its social media account, “The lawsuit that Çalık and the Albayraks have brought against our member Pelin Ünker for her reports in Cumhuriyet is starting. To Çağlayan to say, ‘Journalism cannot be tried.’” Berat Albayrak, who the evening before last was appointed Minister of Treasury and Finance, had a court order passed barring access to the tweet yesterday prior to celebrations marking the 66th year of the Journalists Union of Turkey. In response to this, a statement made by the Journalists Union of Turkey administrative board read: “Berat Albayrak had a court order barring access to this tweet of ours issued. Your excellency the minister, may all go well your new post. We found it quite touching for you to celebrate our birthday in this way. You cannot quieten our voices. See you in court.”
Manager of company known for its closeness to Gül
Deputy Chair of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey’s Women Entrepreneurs Board, Ruhsar Pekcan, has become the first Trade Minister of the Presidential Government System. In 2005, Pekcan joined as a founding partner Karon Mühendislik ve Ticaret Limited Company, which supplies drinking water, irrigation, petrol and natural gas pipes to infrastructure projects and electromechanical components to power stations. She is still the same company’s Executive Director. Pekcan previously served as CEO at Süperlit Boru, a subsidiary of Karamancı Holding known for its closeness to former President Abdullah Gül.
Those in power given the benefit of the doubt but citizens get enemy treatment
Cumhuriyet staffers were accused of FETO affiliation for having called ETS Tur, but its proprietor has been made a minister. Those whose relatives are under investigation have been unable to leave the country, but Bekir Pakdemirli, whose brother has been detained, has been made Forestry Minister.
Erdoğan announced his new cabinet under the new system the day before yesterday. Two ministers on the cabinet courted attention: Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Ersoy and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli. The pasts of these two figures show how the ruling body conducts its struggle against FETO to suit itself. Despite the constitutional presumption of innocence whereby nobody can be declared guilty without a court decision, thousands of people unrelated to FETO were expelled from public service on FETO grounds in the state of emergency process in the aftermath of the 15 July coup attempt. Not only the expellees or those into whom investigations were launched, but their families have been targeted. Restrictions were placed on the passports of 181 people whose relatives were undergoing FETO investigations. These people have been unable to go abroad on account of this.
Calling ETS Tur is a crime
Opposition social circles have had unfounded charges laid against them. We were presented with a notable example in the indictment in the trial brought to silence Cumhuriyet. Past calls made by Cumhuriyet Foundation Chair and Publisher Orhan Erinç, cartoonist Musa Kart and columnist Hakan Kara to ETS Tur about holiday packages were adduced in the indictment as evidence in support of “ FETO” charges. It was noted in the indictment that an investigation in relation to FETO was being conducted into this company by Ankara Chief Public Prosecution. The Cumhuriyet staffers were left waiting for months to submit their defences for having made calls that were not crimes. Appearing before the court, Musa Kart said in this regard: “I seemingly called a travel company known to everyone that places full-page adverts in newspapers about a three-day Bodrum holiday. This call has been placed before me as proof of guilt, deemed to be contacting a terrorist organisation. Hoping to spend three days in a room with a sea view in Bodrum, I spent nine months in a cell with a concrete view in Silivri. What I have been through cannot be fobbed of as a reservation error!” The entire institutions of the state remained observers to the legal scandal whereby Cumhuriyet columnists were charged for having called ETS Tur about holidays.
With “enemy law” applied to ordinary citizens and opposition members, those in similar circumstances have been made into ministers by Erdoğan. Despite a FETO investigation being conducted into ETS Tur of which Mehmet Ersoy is proprietor, as was stressed in the Cumhuriyet indictment, the latter’s appointment as minister comes as food for thought. Likewise, with thousands of people unable to go abroad because their relatives are under FETO-related investigation, Bekir Pakdemirli, whose brother has been detained in relation to FETO, has been made Agriculture and Forestry Minister. Another addition that can be made here is Berat Albayrak, who has been brought in as Treasury and Finance Minister. Albayrak graduated from FETO’s Private Fatih Boys High School. Thousands of people have been expelled from public service for having attended or sending their children to FETO schools. People who attended such schools in the past have been weeded out of reinduction processes into public service. However, no problem was seen in making him a minister where son-in-law Albayrak was concerned.