ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

September 26, 2008 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputy leader defended himself against claims made by the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, parliamentary group deputy leader in a live debate yesterday.

Journalist Uğur Dündar moderated the debate and required both AKP deputy Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat and CHP deputy Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to present arguments in an orderly fashion.

Kılıçdaroğlu first argued that Fırat had exerted pressure on a customs controller after the Ukrainian government warned the Turkish Customs Administration that the MENAS exporting company, of which Fırat was a partner, may have arranged fake invoices.

�But the Prime Ministry control committee, despite a detailed search on the controller, did not find anything wrong on him,� Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Fırat responded that the controller in question was a nominee for the CHP in the 2002 elections and argued that he had used his right to complain against the controller.

Fictitious export

Kılıçdaroğlu cited a report by Orhan Tur, a Treasury controller, who attested in his report that MENAS actually collected foreign currency from inside the country in order to get export subsidies from the state. �MENAS objected to the Central Bank, which got the money back, but was rejected by the Council of State,� Kılıçdaroğlu stressed.

Fırat responded that he had resigned from the directors’ board of the company in 1999. Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that MENAS committed fictitious exports before 1998, while Fırat was still on the board of directors.

Drug trafficking claims

Most explosive of the three main subjects was the drug trafficking claims by Kılıçdaroğlu, who dubbed Fırat, a “Baron.” Kılıçdaroğlu underlined that heroin was found inside a truck that belongs to MENAS on Feb. 27, 2008. �Fırat then wrote a letter to the Customs General Directorate to ask them not to search their trucks. His signature is under the document. Fırat used his political power here,� Kılıçdaroğlu said.

�Fırat further claimed that he quitted the company partnership on July, 1, 2007. He indeed wrote a letter of resignation on that date. But he waited eight months � until after the drug affair was revealed � to go to the notary to hand in notice that he had resigned. Moreover, the Trade Registry Gazette records that Fırat only transferred his shares in June 4, 2008,� Kılıçdaroğlu maintained. Fırat later accused the driver of trafficking, he added.

Fırat responded that when the news of the drug affair was published, he phoned MENAS, and asked to verify that he had indeed left the company partnership. �Even if I was still a partner, how can you claim that the owner of a company is responsible for drugs placed in a truck?� he asked, and claimed the driver was already being monitored by police.

Following the debate, Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated that Fırat must resign, and Fırat, repeated that Kılıçdaroğlu must call himself a slanderer. CHP leader Deniz Baykal congratulated Kılıçdaroğlu and said Fırat was unable to put up a good defense to the claims against him.

Baykal then challenged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a live debate on claims of unearned income directed against him.

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