Erdoğan says businessmen who transfer wealth abroad now not ‘national’

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President of Turkey and Leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) delivers a speech during a program to mark Day of Persons with Disabilities at AK Party Headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on December 04, 2017. Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul / Handout / Anadolu Agency

Following negative signals and reactions from markets over his remarks urging the government not to allow some businessmen to transfer their assets abroad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said he “did not order a ban on the movement of capital” but called on “national” and “local” businessmen to support the economy, the Hurriyet daily reported.

“Turkey is a free market economy. Everyone has had right to transfer their wealth abroad since 1989. This will undoubtedly continue,” Erdoğan said during a speech in Ankara.

Labeling as traitors people who have transferred assets due to links with the faith-based Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Erdoğan called on other businessman to invest in Turkey:

“What I said is that our businessmen should display a national and local stance. If the businessmen do not support our economy nowadays, when will they do so? I am sorry, but businessmen who do not have faith in Turkey are not ‘national’.”

“What I said in Muş [province] yesterday was about a group of businessmen who have been trying to transfer their assets abroad due to their mistrust in their country,” Erdoğan added.

During a party meeting in the eastern province of Muş Erdoğan said: “I have received some news and signals. I have heard that some businessmen have been engaged in attempts to smuggle their wealth out. I am calling on my Cabinet first, they must not ever be allowed to leave because those steps are treasonous.”

Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 16 said 48,739 people had been jailed and eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations against the movement.

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