People’s Democratic Party deputy Ali Kenanoğlu, from İstanbul province, made a written motion related to olive oils plundered from Afrin by pro-Turkish paramilitary groups (composed of more than 30 subgroups) which have been taking part in the “Olive Branch Operation”. As it would be seen within the scope of the motion, plundering occurred in front of the eyes of Turkish forces deployed there.
Kenanoğlu argues that plundered olives have been transformed into olive oil within the borders of Syria and from the beginning of plundering action now on approximately 50.000 tons olive oil have been transported to Turkey and have been sold certain companies in Turkey through the agency of Agricultural Credit Cooperatives which is subsidiary of The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkish Republic.
According to the motion, the olive oils that had been sold to certain companies through the agency of Agricultural Credit Cooperatives have been exported specifically to Spain and Cyprus under the name of “Made in Turkey” – which is evaluated as an unlawful exportation for Kenanoğlu if it is considered in the sense of international trade law – as a result of what Turkish companies earned 90 million dollars. Moreover, a large amount of income corresponding to 22 million dollars were shared out among pro-Turkish paramilitary groups.
Together with these indicated above, another crucial point that is focused on in the motion is that this process also develops against the Turkish olive oil producers because of the fact that transported olive oils’ per liter were sold cheaper compared to domestic olive oil per liter price.
In the light of information mentioned above, Kenanoğlu demands a parliamentary inquiry about plundering and its unlawful exportation in addition to official investigation for those who played an active role in this process within the borders of Turkey.
TO THE PRESIDENCY OF THE GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF TURKEY
I submit and propose a parliamentary inquiry in accordance with the 98th article of the constitution and 104th and 105th articles of the Parliament Bylaws in the sense of claims that pro-Turkish state paramilitary groups taken part in the “Olive Branch Operation” plundered the olive trees pertaining to people of Afrin in front of the eyes of Turkish forces deployed there, and also transportation of the olive oil – derived from the plundered oil – to Turkey and exportation of it under the name of “Made in Turkey”, and in the sense of the loss that Turkish olive oil producers made as a result of the transportation of 50.000 tons olive oil from Afrin to Turkey. Moreover, I submit and propose an official investigation for those who played an active role in plundering and unlawful exportation within the borders of Turkey.
Deputy for İstanbul
It has been argued, by Syrian Observatory Human Rights, that 50.000 tons smuggled olive oils had been carried into Turkey as a result of plundering olive trees in the city as a pillage by paramilitary forces (New Syrian Army composed of more than 30 opposition forces and several other paramilitary groups). With 15 million olive trees Afrin takes part in the most important territories in terms of olive cultivation in the world. In parallel with SOHR’s report, this issue was brought into forward in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey by certain parliamentarians in different times like Ahmet Akın’s (deputy from Balıkesir province) 13 November 2018 dated speech, 15 November 2018 dated speech of İsmail Ok (deputy from Balıkesir province) and 22 November 2018 dated speech of Fikret Şahin (deputy from Balıkesir province). Also, this burning issue has become the most important or hot topic of authorities of olive cultivation in Turkey.
Besides, another remarkable points that took part in the report of SOHR can be put into words like that olives which were plundered/stolen corresponds to 80 % of the sum total olive of Afrin and remained part of olive trees were sold as firewood.
According to El Publico (Spanish newspaper), plundered/stolen olives have been transported to Turkey by hand of The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, immediately after these olives are transformed into olive oil within the borders of Syria. These olive oils are sold in Turkey by Agricultural Credit Cooperations, unit of the ministry, to companies on the condition that transported olive oil must be exported in six months’ time. Despite the fact that olive oils’ origin is Afrin, by reason of the fact that the stolen olive oils are put through the small-scale processes, olive oils are sold under the label of “Made in Turkey” by companies. The minister of The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says “we want to have the income based on olive and its derivatives produced in Afrin” during the parliament’s planning and budget sub-commission meetings, November 2018.
It has been arguing that 5.000 tons of plundered olive oils had already been sold to Spain and Cyprus and the income earned by these sales is expressed around 90 million dollars. The last export of olive oil from Turkey to Spain – as one of the most important partners of Turkey with regard to olive oil trade – includes 10.000 tons Afrin origin olive oils. This situation does not change when route or point of destination changes: the last olive oil export between Turkey and Cyprus includes as well 25.000 tons Afrin origin olive oils.
Together with what were tried to be brought forward above, it is one of the most crucial claims that a large amount of income – 22 million $ – earned through olive oil export is shared out among paramilitary groups taking part the process of plundering and transportation of the Afrin origin olive oil. That is the point that which Amnesty International’s Syria Observer as well tries to draw world public’s attention with the report prepared and explained by the organization. As it is ascertained within the scope of the report, according to the AI the actions of plundering, performed by paramilitary groups, occurred in front of the eyes of the Turkish forces deploying in Afrin, and they had had a hypermetropic attitude in the face of such a situation.
In addition to the reports and explanations of the AI and the SOHR, this issue was brought to the agenda of Switzerland’s and Spain’s parliaments. Two Spanish senators demanded that customs certificates related to olive oil trade among Turkey and Spain occurred from the beginning of plundering on should be published. Also, Swiss parliamentarian Bernard Guhl pointed out that olives had been plundered from Afrin by paramilitary groups and these plundered olives turned into olive oil have been introduced into the market with the label of “Made in Turkey”, and he put emphasize on the necessity of investigation about the olive oil trade between Turkey and Spain.
Apart from olive producers of Afrin, olive producers of Turkey, especially from Balıkesir, Kilis, Hatay and Osmaniye provinces, as well have been made a big loss as a result of the situation mentioned above. While per liter of olive oil grown in Turkey is exported at a price of 20-25 Turkish lira, the plundered olive oil – transported from Afrin to Turkey at the time of harvest – is sold at the price of 16.5 Turkish lira because of the fact that it was sold at a cheap price by the Agriculture and Forestry to companies. This difference creates a pressure on Turkish producers as a result of what they feel themselves compelled to sell their olive oil at a cheaper price; they have been started to sell the per liter of olive oil 13.5 Turkish lira. That is to say, sale price of olive oil went down below from even the price of three years ago. Although the cost of major inputs of olive production process like manure, agricultural pesticide, labor and so on increases 50 % compared to last three years, the sale about olive oil price – 3 Turkish Lira for per liter – amounts to a big loss for producers. Together with this, it was expressed by The National Olive and Olive Oil Council that this period paved the way for ruin of reputation of Turkish producers internationally.
As the People’s Democratic Party parliamentary group, we think that aforementioned unjust and illegal actions are essential to be investigated under the roof of The Grand National Assembly of Tukey. Also, we consider that in order to relief Turkish olive oil producers, emerged in consequence of the unjust and illegal actions, necessary precautions must be taken urgently.