Turkey's Dervis says army backs Telekom sale

Published May 3rd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Turkey's Economy Minister Kemal Dervis said on Thursday, May 3, he had the support of the powerful military for a proposed sale of Turk Telekom, which is needed to secure a $10 billion economic rescue package. 

 

Turkey has promised the IMF and World Bank, which recently agreed the loan package to handle the country's financial crisis, a rapid Telekom sell-off but it has been slowed amid reports that the army, which has staged three coups since 1960, objects on national security grounds. 

 

Dervis said he had spoken with a top ranking military official and reassured him that a plan to keep a golden share stake in state hands would assure Turkey's security. "I've spoken with the vice-chair of the General Staff, there is no problem. With the golden share, everything relating to Turkey's security and defense will be assured," Dervis told reporters in Ankara. 

 

"There is absolutely no difference of opinion with the Turkish armed forces about the program. It's just the opposite: they're giving their support for Turkey's future and no one loves Turkey more than they do." 

 

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said Dervis had rushed to meet the military immediately after returning to Turkey from Germany early on Thursday morning, and said his talks had laid the ground for resolving the matter. 

 

"I believe we're going to get through the Telekom issue in the next day or two. It's a very sensitive subject, of course. It has importance strategically, so you've got to understand our need to go over the details closely," he told reporters in Ankara. 

 

The military last month said it was postponing 32 modernization projects expected to cost $19.5 billion in an effort to ease the crisis that has slashed about 40 percent of the currency's value against the dollar since late February. 

 

The crisis erupted after Turkey's president and prime minister squabbled over the means of fighting corruption in a meeting of the military-dominated National Security Council, casting markets in panic. — (Reuters, Ankara) 

 

© Reuters 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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