Turkish-Qatari firm BMC gifts Erdoğan a luxury coach

A Turkish-Qatari vehicle manufacturer has gifted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a luxury coach, five months after Qatar sent the president an ultra-VIP Boeing 747-8 jet, again as a gift.

Erdoğan inspected the bus, which arrived decked out with the pennant of the Presidency, after board members from the manufacturer, BMC, brought it to his presidential compound in Ankara, Turkish news site Haberler.com reported on Thursday.

BMC has good reason to be grateful to Erdoğan: the president granted the company the use for 25 years of a state-owned tank factory worth $20 billion in a decree signed in January, without opening the factory to tender.

The decree proved controversial among the Turkish opposition, which accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of using the factory as a handout to its supporters.

BMC’s shares are divided between the Öztürk family, including AKP deputy Cemal Öztürk, Ethem Sancak, a member of the AKP’s executive board, and the Qatari armed forces, which own a 49.9 percent stake in the company.

It was Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani who handed the $500-million jet to Erdoğan last September. The emir said it was a gift, though many in Turkey have expressed concerns that such an expensive gift will come with strings attached.

Erdoğan’s government is known for its close ties to Qatar, and came out as the strongest supporter of the Gulf country in 2016, when Saudi Arabia led a coalition of Arab countries including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in a blockade against it.