Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan has said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros face to face at least twice in the past.
Erdoğan has been slamming his opponents, mainly jailed human rights defender and philanthropist Osman Kavala, over their alleged links to Soros. He most recently went as far as to call Kavala a "Soros residue."
"Erdoğan met with Soros at least two or three times. I was in one of them from what I recall," Babacan, who is also the former deputy prime minister, said on Oct. 30, as he commented on a picture of Erdoğan and Soros.
"These meetings were about investments to Turkey. It has been that way. Don't seek consistency in Mr. Erdoğan's actions," the DEVA leader added.
According to Babacan, these types of meetings were held frequently in the early days of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"Turkey needed local and international investment and capital. Extensive meetings were being held with whoever could bring capital to Turkey. These meetings were held both in Turkey and abroad," Babacan said.
"Pictures of some meetings between Soros and Erdoğan weren't released to the public," he noted.
The DEVA leader also commented on the case of Kavala.
"There is nothing that constitutes a crime. Our own Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights have already said that," Babacan said.
"Here, we see a personal stubbornness," he added.
Kavala, a businessman and contributor to civil society groups, is charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and involvement in a failed coup in 2016. He has been held in detention while his trial continues.
Ten Western ambassadors, including the United States envoy, called on authorities on Oct. 18 to free Kavala, prompting Erdoğan to threaten them of expulsion from Turkey.
The two sides then climbed down from a full-blown diplomatic crisis on Oct. 25 after foreign embassies said that they abide by diplomatic conventions on non-interference.