Ethem Sancak, the owner of BMC, Turkey’s largest commercial and military vehicle manufacturer, and a strong supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has resigned from Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) after he was referred for expulsion due to his remarks about the US role in the party’s coming to power, local media reported on Saturday, citing a journalist.
The İstanbul provincial branch of the AKP on Friday referred Sancak, a member of the AKP, to the provincial disciplinary board for expulsion.
The move was sparked by a recent statement from Sancak, who recently told a conference on “Turkey’s Security and NATO” at the İstanbul-based Marmara University, “We [the AKP] came to power with the support of the United States.”
Journalist Candaş Tolga Işık later on Friday cited Halil Ibrahim Kurşun, AKP Sarıyer district president, as saying that Sancak had just handed in his letter of resignation.
“He said, ‘Ethem Sancak sent us a letter today for his resignation from the party. We put it into effect’,” Işık said in a tweet.
Az önce AK Parti İstanbul-Sarıyer İlçe Başkanı Halil İbrahim Kurşun'la konuştum, "Ethem Sancak bugün partiden istifa ettiğine dair dilekçesini bize ulaştırdı. Evrak tarafımızdan işleme kondu" dedi.
— Candaş Tolga Işık (@ctisik) April 1, 2022
Speaking to journalist İsmail Saymaz on halktv.com following news that he was facing expulsion from the AKP, Sancak denied saying the party came to power with the support of the US.
“No, no… I didn’t say that. The people brought the AKP to power,” Sancak said.
However, the remarks the businessman had denied saying were clearly heard in a voice recording released by the Gazete Duvar news website late on Friday.
“This nation chose Tayyip Erdoğan. … In fact, we came to power with the support of the US,” Sancak is heard saying in the recording.
At the conference, the businessman, who is known for his anti-NATO stance, also said the West and NATO are always at war with Turkey and that NATO will eventually expel Turkey from the organization.
Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952.
Six days after Russian President Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine that quickly turned into a full-scale invasion, Sancak went to Moscow with a delegation from Turkey’s neo-nationalist Homeland Party (VP).
Speaking to the Russian RBK network, he said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was NATO’s fault and that Ankara’s membership in the alliance is a disgrace for his country.