Turkish businessman and former politician Cem Uzan has become the talk of the day on social media following his comments praising Turkey's opposition leaders and criticizing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
During an interview with daily Cumhuriyet on Dec. 23, Uzan was asked if his Young (Genç) Party will launch a campaign to enter the upcoming elections and form an alliance with other opposition parties.
In response to this question, Uzan said: “Alliance is like a marriage. Both sides should want it. My Kemalist thought and stance show where we can stand. But it is too early to talk about an alliance at a place where the election is not on the agenda.”
“Look, Turkey has gone bankrupt. Where is the son-in-law [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law Berat Albayrak]? Where is the $130 billion liras that they have stolen from people's pockets?” Uzan said, referring to the amount of reserves that the Turkish Central Bank has burnt through this year amid a currency crisis.
Uzan said that he “admires” main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu and jailed former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş. “They are the values of this country. But, as for [Future Party leader Ahmet] Davuoğlu and [DEVA Party leader Ali] Babacan, they are the AKP's wastes. They should be retired and withdraw into their corners,” Uzan said, referring to the two AKP breakaway parties.
Uzan said that Babacan, former economy minister under the AKP reign, was mostly responsible for Turkey's current gross external debt stock, which reached a level of $421.8 billion at the end of June.
“If Turkey today has a debt of half a trillion dollars, Babacan has his signature behind all of those [decisions]. And [former Prime Minister] Davutoğlu is the reason why Turkey has millions of Syrians,” Uzan said.
Uzan is known for launching Turkey's first private television channel, STAR TV, in 1989. In 2002, he founded Young Party, only seven months before the elections. The party got more than 7 percent of the votes. Due to the 10 percent threshold, it could not get into the parliament.
Uzan also said that if an election were held today in Turkey, the ruling AKP-Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance would not even garner 40 percent of the votes. He said that he did not believe the current rulership would “go away with an election.” “I do not know how they will go away, but I do not believe that they will go away with an election,” he said.
“Scheduled ballot is in 2023, but think that there is no election that day. They would issue a decree and postpone it for two years. Where is your appeal authority? Is it the Supreme Election Board [YSK] which had the municipal elections canceled?” Uzan said, referring to YSK's decision that the Istanbul mayoral election shall be annulled and repeated on June 23, 2019.
After a series of government seizures against his businesses and properties on corruption charges, Uzan fled to France in 2009, claiming political asylum. The request was granted by the French government. Since then, he has been living in France.