BURAK – Pro-gov’t firm eyes rights to Turkey’s largest farm

Pro-gov’t firm eyes rights to Turkey’s largest farmAn anticipated tender for Turkeyand#39s largest farm in the Syrian border town of CeylanpInar has whetted the appetites of many investors, among whom pro-government businessman Ethem Sancak is a favorite to win the rights to operate the lucrative property, observers speculate.The 176 million square kilometers of farmland in CeylanpInar, currently operated by Turkeyand#39s General Directorate of Agricultural Enterprises (TIGEM), is also the worldand#39s largest plot of agricultural land covered by constant irrigation.

The CeylanpInar farm constitutes 51 percent of TIGEMand#39s total land assets and authorities have earlier signaled that the land would be rented to a private developer for investment.There was speculation that the state would open a tender for the privatization of the CeylanpInar agricultural land however, no officials statements have been made on this issue so farSancak is known for his close ties to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan and became one of Turkeyand#39s leading media moguls after buying a media conglomerate including a TV station, dailies and radio stations.

A businessman favored by ErdoIan, Sancak earlier this year managed to buy BMC, one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in Turkey, for TL 751 million. This amount was TL 214 million less than the original asking price.

If he wins the rights to operate CeylanpInar, this will be Sancakand#39s largest farming project among others he has recently launched.Sancak earlier leased a large plot of agricultural land belonging to TIGEM in the province of Denizli for 30 years.

Accompanied by ErdoIanand#39s son Bilal, Sancak had earlier visited CeylanpInar — in 2013 — and met with local authorities there. Turkish media then speculated that Sancak had asked ErdoIan for the rights to operate CeylanpInar and that the prime minister had agreed to it.

Critics have alleged that ErdoIan followed the allocation of high-value lands in person. A leaked voice recording in March suggested that ErdoIan criticized a high-ranking government official for selling a valuable plot of land in Istanbul without his permission.

ErdoIan allegedly told the official to andldquoet my approval before selling any valuable land.andrdquo.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman