(Updated with remarks from Defence Ministry)
Turkey’s media watchdog has launched an investigation into remarks by an opposition lawmaker on the Turkish military, T24 news site reported on Sunday.
The probe follows comments made during a TV programme by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker from southern Mersin province,Ali Mahir Başarır, that Turkey’s military, “for the first time in its history’’ had been “sold’’ to ally Gulf nation Qatar.
“Nobody has the right to defame our military, which provides safety and peace of mind through its brave struggle both within and outside our borders,’’ the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) said in a statement it released. “An investigation has been launched into the programme by experts in our supreme board.’’
Başarır, during a discussion programme on Turkish TV station Habertürk. earlier this week, reacted the turnover of a Turkish tank pallet factory to Qatar, saying, “We have arrived at such a point that for the first time in the history of the republic, the military of the state has been sold to Qatar.’’
“I cannot put a price tag on this – there are reports that it was for $20 billion, it was sold for $50 billion…,’’ he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a decree on Dec. 20, 2018, which turned over the right to operate Turkey’s national tank factory for a 25-year period to the Turkish-Qatari vehicle manufacturer BMC. The move marked the first time a military facility of strategic significance had been privatised.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Defence Ministry has also threatened an probe into the remarks, Gerçek Gündem news site reported on Saturday.
“We would like for everyone to know that an account will be asked for within the framework of the law, and we will be following the matter,’’ it cited the ministry as saying, signalling an upcoming investigation.