CHP goes to Council of State to stop mine tenders (Turkey)

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) took the matter of the government's mine clearance tender decision in the southeast to court yesterday.


According to the tender, the winner is to clear the mines along the Syrian and Iraqi borders in three years. The area, which is alleged to be the country's most valuable agricultural zone, would be handed over to a firm to clear mines and make use of the land for 49 years under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model.

The CHP has claimed that foreign firms are interested in this tender because of its economic value, adding that if a foreign firm were to win the tender they'd be able to cultivate the land for 49 years.

The CHP appealed to the Council of State, requesting a government decree giving authority for the tender to the Finance Ministry be annulled.

Before appealing to the Council of State, CHP Deputy Group Chair Haluk Koc said in a press conference beforehand that they are suspicious about controversial Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan's involvement in the matter. "Did the finance minister meet with the Israeli Ofer Company before the tender? Were there any other meetings with other international firms?" asked Koc.

The Ofer Group, in the tender process for the privatization of Galata and Kusadasi harbors, allegedly had clandestine meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan. The tenders, which contained favorable terms for the Ofer Group, were later cancelled.

"The finance minister's involvement in this issue is a clear violation of law. We have be very careful when his name crops up in relation to something," charged Koc.

The CHP deputy also said the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) Regional Development Administration was left out of the tender process, although it has responsibility and authority for regional development.

"This process is illegal. It will also threaten Turkey's national interests. It may result in Turkey losing its control of the region which is of great strategic importance," said Koc, also claiming that the region would become part of a Greater Middle East Initiative (GME) project which aims to increase U.S. control in the region in the future against Turkey's national interests.

Koc urged the government to open the region for agricultural activities and hand over the land to local people once the mine cleaning is completed.

"There may also be oil reserves in the region; that should be investigated," added Koc.

CHP Konya Deputy Atilla Kart added that there were several mine cleaning tenders opened in Sirnak and Mardin which were later canceled.

Von: 05.05.06

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