Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a $400 million luxury jet from the emir of Qatar last week, triggering a wave of criticism from political opponents.
In response, Erdogan Monday said the luxury Boeing 747-8 was a “gift” from Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Bin al-Thani, rejecting claims the aircraft had been purchased. The Turkish leader told reporters Ankara had been interested in buying the plane, but that the emir insisted on offering it as a gift.
Erdogan also maintained that the jet belonged to the people of Turkey and not to him personally, adding that he would use the aircraft for his trips. News reports from the region say the jet comes with board rooms, lounges, staterooms, and even a functional hospital. The massive plane is designed to carry 76 passengers.
Erdogan disclosed the plane’s $400 million price tag after questions were raised about the cost, with a member of the opposition party filing an official inquiry into the matter. Erdogan has faced criticism in the past for his spending on such extravagances as a presidential palace and a fleet of luxury vehicles. Turkey is facing double-digit inflation and an ailing currency.
Doha has sought closer ties with Ankara as its relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors deteriorated over Qatar’s alleged support for Muslim extremists. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar, alleging it supports terrorism. Qatar denies the allegation.
Source: Voice of America