Press Releases | July 21, 2022

TDP Calls on Cisco to Review Its Business Operations in Turkey

(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) has called on Cisco to immediately review its commercial and technology projects with the Turkish infrastructure and air transit sectors, and sever its connection to Turkish Airlines and the Istanbul Grand Airport, a project which has been mired in waste and corruption.

In Fall 2021, TDP commenced a campaign investigating international companies with ties to corrupt Turkish construction firms and dubious government sponsored projects. TDP has identified that Cisco has extensive interests in Turkey’s infrastructure and air transit sectors. The American global technology company has provided integrated security and malware protection services to Turkish Airlines as well as one of President Erdogan’s most costly vanity projects, the Istanbul Grand Airport.

As the largest single shareholder of Turkish Airlines, the Turkish government maintains a tight grip over the company. In line with Erdogan’s policy of deepening economic cooperation with Russia, in April 2022 the airline signed a $300 million deal to shuttle Russian tourists into Turkey. This government-supported scheme has enabled the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) and Erdogan to profit from the influx of Russians escaping global sanctions against the Kremlin, while courting favor with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Having identified extensive legal and ethical risks in Cisco’s Turkish business interests, TDP sent a letter on July 14, 2022 to the company’s Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Chuck Robbins.

Commenting on Cisco’s involvement with Turkish Airlines, Madeleine Joelson, Executive Director of the Turkish Democracy Project, said:

“We call on Cisco to urgently reconsider its links to the Turkish infrastructure and air transit sectors, and to sever its ties to Turkish Airlines and IGA. The air transit sector has become central to Erodgan’s efforts to curry favor with Vladimir Putin, while also helping to line the pockets of the President’s oligarchs. Cisco must acknowledge that there is no way to profit from the Turkish President without defrauding the Turkish people. Companies engaging with the regime inevitably expose themselves to significant financial, reputational, and legal risk.”