The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) has called on Boeing to terminate its numerous contracts with the Turkish defense and aerospace sector, which has been plagued by accusations of corruption and of abetting President Erdogan’s malign foreign policy, including his courtship of Russia.
In Fall 2021, TDP initiated a campaign investigating international companies with links to Erdogan’s authoritarian regime. Last week, TDP’s investigation into Lockheed Martin’s ties to Turkey was covered by the Politico National Security newsletter. TDP has now found that Boeing also has multiple technical partnership programs in Turkey. This includes Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAŞ), which makes aerospace defense systems that are routinely used by President Erdogan in his efforts to destabilize the Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean regions. TUSAŞ’s F110 jet engines were deployed during Turkey’s 2020 military intervention in Libya, which was strongly denounced by the European Union.
Boeing has also partnered with Turkish Technic, a subsidiary of Turkish Airlines, which owns 195 Boeing aircraft. Turkish Airlines’ single largest shareholder is the Turkey Wealth Fund (TWF). Headed by President Erdogan and populated by family members and close allies, critics have characterized the TWF as a “parallel treasury” and a “wealthless sovereign wealth fund”. Erdogan’s refusal to join Western sanctions against Moscow, as well as his open invitation for oligarchs to relocate, has seen Turkish Airlines become a primary carrier, and beneficiary, of Russian tourists.
Having identified grave reputational, legal, and commercial risks in Boeing’s ties to the Turkish defense and aerospace sector, TDP sent a letter to Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, on August 19, 2022.
Commenting on Boeing’s lack of response, Turkish Democracy Project’s CEO, Mark Wallace, said:
“We urge Boeing to sever all ties with Turkish aerospace companies that have been deeply affected by President Erdogan’s culture of corruption. Companies like Turkish Aerospace Industries and Turkish Airlines have become extensions of President Erdogan’s malicious foreign policy agenda, which includes playing handmaiden to Vladimir Putin.”