Haluk Bayraktar Criticizes Kılıçdaroğlu for Slandering Baykar

May 26, 2023

Bayraktar: "Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu ... Not only you, but also those who have voiced the slander and defamation we have been facing recently have clung to this baseless argument…"
Chairman of the Board and Baykar’s CEO Haluk Bayraktar speaks during Turkey - Ukraine Defense Industry Cooperation Panel as part of SAHA EXPO Defense Aviation and Space Industry Fair in Istanbul. Photo by Anadolu Images


n May 21, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and presidential candidate of the Nation Alliance, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, attended the program “Mevzular Açık Mikrofon” on Babala TV where he addressed a wide array of controversial topics. Some of his answers prompted responses from public figures, including the CEO of Bakar Haluk Bayraktar.

On whether he would shut down Baykar factories if he came to power, Kılıçdaroğlu responded, addressing Bayraktar: “He [Bayraktar] may produce UAVs/ UCAVs himself, there is no obstacle against that. Our only concern here is creating a competitive environment because there are other establishments that produce the same UAVs/UCAVs, including government agencies. We shouldn’t raise any obstacles, but there must be competition. As befits the name: national defense.”

Earlier, Ali Babacan, chairman of the DEVA Party, a constituent of the Nation Alliance, had targeted Baykar during a program on the Turkish Fox TV channel. Talking about UAVs and UCAVs, Babacan said, “They have been made sacred by the government. They say we will burn those who touch them. With all due respect, we will touch them.”

We don’t ask for support; just don’t stymie our efforts, we ask for nothing else

Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s answer, Haluk Bayraktar responded by sharing a lengthy and reproachful tweet in which he criticized Kılıçdaroğlu for distorting truths and failing to address slanderous claims made by his party’s MPs.

The tweet reads: “Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu, when talking about Baykar, you said, ‘Our only problem is the creation of a competitive environment.’ Not only you, but also those who have voiced the slander and defamation we have been facing recently have clung to this baseless argument… If you remember, you did not answer the question of why you raised the position of your MPs, he called the national UCAVs ‘JİTEM’ [Gendarmerie Intelligence Organization], who slandered us for stealing human resources from state companies, who lied that we received money from the municipality, on the lists in Diyarbakır, Izmir, and Malatya. When Sezgin Tanrıkulu’s name was mentioned, you ignored it.

Our late father had denounced these slanders to you years ago in letters and on the phone, but you remained oblivious then too. Finally, when you made another slander, our father Özdemir filed a lawsuit against you and the court sentenced you to pay compensation. He had wished for the amount awarded to be donated to the families of martyrs. We once again present your inconsistent behavior before the public’s judgment.”

In 2022, CHP Diyarbakır MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu had shared a provocative tweet implying that if the CHP came to power, Selçuk Bayraktar would be put on trial.

Why should we be afraid of competition?

Bayraktar highlighted Baykar’s international success in the defense field, and repetitively emphasized that Baykar was not afraid of competition—on the contrary, it worked to promote it.

The tweet continued, “As for the issue of competition… Baykar was born out of competition, and became one of the world’s leading companies in its sector through competition. Before Baykar, Turkey was buying UAVs from Israel. Baykar produced UAVs, competed with the Israeli company, and supplied Turkey with better quality UAVs at one-tenth the cost. Currently, there are seven companies, one of which is a foundation-owned company, producing UAVs in Turkey. Baykar has outcompeted U.S., Israeli, and Chinese companies, and exported to 30 countries. It has become the world’s largest UAV exporter.”

Bayraktar stated that this year’s Teknofest, which was organized under Baykar’s leadership with the participation of more than 2.5 million visitors, had garnered more than 4,000 UAV teams among the 332,000 participating teams, with one million young people competing in total. He argued that new technology companies are born from these competitions.

Bayraktar added that Baykar had made all its R&D investments with its own resources; had not received any government grants or bank loans; and earned 75% of all its revenues and 99.3% of the current year’s revenues from exports.

“Baykar’s share of total defense spending in Turkey is less than 1%. Which monopoly are you talking about? … Let me explain again: our concern is not to become a monopoly in Turkey. We produced these UAVs for Turkey, for our fight against terrorism. Before Baykar, there was a monopoly and foreign dependency. We want our country to maintain its world leadership in this field.”

Bayraktar went on to add, “From Greece to the United States, the world’s most important media outlets have published articles saying that our national UCAVs have changed the paradigm and rewritten defense doctrines. However, what is said and written about what we do at home is always under the same perception, always the same slander… While extending your support (!), I wish you had not distorted the truth… We don’t ask for support; just don’t stymie our efforts, we ask for nothing else.”

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