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Psst… Someone Should Tell Erdoğan…

Psst… Someone Should Tell Erdoğan…

Heads of state and government are never expected to know every detail and clause or technicality in every government-to-government contract.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is no exception. That’s why presidents are equipped, presumably, with the best and most able minds and men – better brains that should guide presidents into success stories and protect them from embarrassment, especially international.

It is not too difficult to guess it must be quite a difficult task to be advising Mr Erdoğan who favours yes men to critical minds, especially because he thinks he knows the best on any subject, from railways to family and formal education to economic management, the ideal number of children for each family, the ideal method to give birth, bread prices, football, religion, financial markets, linguistics, history to car industry, to mention just a few.

When a U.S. Senate bill threatened Turkey with the suspension of the delivery of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, although Turkey is a member of the consortium that builds the future military aircraft, Mr Erdoğan shrugged off by simply saying that if Washington actually did that Turkey would appeal to international arbitration in order to make sure the aircraft it ordered should be delivered.

Mr Erdoğan’s palace is full of officials who know international contracts like the F-35 by heart, like the chief defence procurement officer, Ismail Demir.

But the perfect executive presidential system Mr Erdoğan created caused a major embarrassment only weeks after it took off.

Mr Erdoğan’s officials may be too shy about facts. They may be fearing his wrath in case he learns that not all defence contracts were structured as he would have wished. But facts are facts. Like this one:

Section XVII of the F-35 contract regarding Settlement of Disputes, Article 17.1 puts it plainly:

“Disputes among the Participants arising under or relating to this MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) will be resolved only by consultation among the Participants and will not be referred to an individual, to a national court, to an international tribunal, or to any other person or entity for settlement.”

Article 17.1 does not leave room for any discussion on whether Turkey, as Mr Erdoğan said, could refer the embargo to international arbitration.

Perhaps someone should remind the president…

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv. James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary. Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London). (Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

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