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Turkish minister criticized for using pro-gov’t company’s jet to attend forum in Germany

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Turkish Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloğlu has come under fire for using a private jet belonging to the pro-government construction conglomerate Rönesans Holding to attend an international forum in Germany, local media reported on Thursday.

The minister went to Leipzig on Wednesday to attend the 2024 International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit on “Greening Transport: Keeping focus in times of crisis,” taking place under the presidency of Lithuania on May 22-23.

Uraloğlu traveled to Germany on a private jet belonging to Rönesans Holding, a conglomerate of Turkish business tycoon Erman Ilıcak, who has close links to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chairman Ali Mahir Başarır criticized the minister for using a private jet to get to the summit in a video he released on X.

“Why don’t you take a regular flight? … The jet you took belongs to Rönesans [Holding]. It’s a shameful situation. … Did you pay for it? … We talk about austerity measures, yet gentlemen [from the AKP] are flying to Germany in a private jet for a very small meeting. It’s a disgrace,” Başarır said.

He was referring to the Turkish government’s new austerity plan, “Savings and Efficiency Package in the Public Sector,” which was unveiled by Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek earlier this month.

The plan, which aims to curb inflation and reduce public spending, includes a range of cost-cutting measures including a three-year moratorium on the purchase or rental of new vehicles, furniture and office equipment for the public sector and a halt to the construction or purchase of new public buildings, with the exception of those required for health, security or defense. It has sparked criticism from labor unions, economists and politicians, who argue that the measures disproportionately affect people on low incomes while sparing the wealthy.

Erdoğan and politicians from his ruling AKP have long been criticized for their extravagant lifestyles and for spending taxpayers’ money on personal expenses and travel amid the country’s ongoing economic woes.

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