Turkish business dynasties accused of backing “post-modern coup”

ISTANBUL,  (Reuters) – A lawyer accused two of Turkey’s corporate dynasties yesterday of backing the 1997 military overthrow of its first Islamist-led government, sending their shares tumbling on fears of a deepening vendetta against the country’s secular business elite.

Shares in family-run conglomerates Dogan Holding and Koc Holding fell nearly 8 percent and more than 3 percent respectively after lawyer Mustafa Polat filed a complaint against them in a trial of alleged plotters.

Neither Dogan nor Koc had any immediate comment.

The events of 1997 were dubbed the “post-modern coup” as the generals used pressure behind the scenes to force Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan from power, in contrast to the direct intervention of three military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

The trial of more than 100 senior army officers over their alleged role in the overthrow goes to the heart of the tensions between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted government and a secular elite, which includes some of its leading business figures as well as the army.

Erdogan, who was a member of Erbakan’s Islamist party, has made curbing the military’s political clout one of his main missions during his 10 years in power.

Polat said he had filed the complaint against Aydin Dogan and the holding company of the Koc family, which owns five of Turkey’s 10 largest companies and whose interests account for an estimated 10 percent of national output, because there was clear evidence of their opposition to Erbakan’s government.

 

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