Head of Germany-based Turkish proxy group UID pursues business interests and engages with radical figures in Turkey
Abdullah Bozkurt / Stockholm
A senior official with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s long arm in Europe, trained as a far-right nationalist in his youth in Germany, runs several companies in Turkey and has ties to radical Islamist politicians in the country, an investigation has revealed of the Nordic Monitor.
According to a review of commercial register records, Köksal Kuş, president of the Union of International Democrats (UID, formerly UETD), an organization that operates as a foreign interest group on behalf of Erdoğan’s government overseas , has extended its trade relations in Turkey. .
He worked closely with Erdoğan’s confidant, Metin Külünk, who has been investigated for his links to armed and radical Islamist groups in Turkey and helped establish UID in Europe.
Listing a number of his relatives as partners, guardians and shareholders of his companies, Kuş handled his business interests as a Turkish national, never mentioning his ties to Germany in his documents. Once he had cultivated enough political capital with Turkish government officials, he ventured into the energy sector and obtained a license from a Turkish regulator although he and his companies did not. have no experience in power generation.
Company data according to Istanbul Chamber of Commerce:
One of the companies owned by Kuş and his relatives is an energy and construction company named Kuş Enerji Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketii. The company had nothing to do with the energy sector when it was established on December 8, 2010 as a trading and agricultural company with a capital of 100,000 Turkish lira. He listed two relatives of Kuş as founders; however, only 12 days after its inception, Kuş took over the company and became its general manager. According to the statements of the trade register, he was mainly engaged in the trade of dry goods and cereals.
In February 2012, İrfan Gündüz, an academic turned politician, joined the firm as a partner. Gündüz had held leadership positions in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), served in parliament as deputy chairman of the AKP parliamentary group and currently holds the title of chairman of the council of administration of İbn Haldun University, which was established by the Erdoğan government. family. Bilal Erdoğan, the youngest son of the Turkish president, is listed as Gündüz’s deputy on the board.
Kuş’s tactic of bringing a heavyweight like Gündüz with close ties to Erdoğan’s family into the company seems to have paid off. In February 2013, the company changed its name to Kuş Enerji Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi and said in its statements that it would be involved in the energy sector and build power plants. Its capital was increased to 3 million Turkish liras. It was a pretty drastic change for the company as it ventured into an area in which it had no previous experience. It was very likely that Kuş was banking on his political connections to make money.
Kuş turned his business into an energy company according to a trade register filing:
Kuş’s network within Erdoğan’s government has apparently paid off. A license for a hydropower plant project with a capacity of 5,373 MW in Gümüşhane has been granted by the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK). The decision rendered by the EPDK on September 10, 2020 showed that it had obtained an electricity production license for 49 years under the project name “Dırağa Reg. ve HES.
The web page of the energy firm Kuş does not contain much information other than several pages that mention the hydroelectric power plant project. He lists Kuş and his relatives as founders. In an interview with local newspaper Gümüşhane Olay in March 2021, he claimed that the plant was finished and would soon be producing electricity.
In October 2020, Gündüz sold his shares and left the company. The last filing registered with the Chamber of Commerce in January 2021 shows that Kuş is still a partner of the company and has the power to represent and conduct all kinds of transactions for the company.
Another company owned by him is Kuş Inşaat, Dograma, Isı Sistemleri, Fotografçılik Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi, a general trading company involved in operations such as photography, heating and construction. It was established by Kuş and his relatives in October 1998. The company is still active and managed by members of the Kuş family.
Although Kuş comes from an ultra-nationalist background, he apparently saw opportunities in his involvement with President Erdoğan and his ruling AKP. He applied to run for the AKP list in 2015 and wanted to fill the place allocated to the European constituency in national elections. He failed in his offer.
Kuş’s second company in Turkey:
He had worked for UID until he became president in January 2021 and was mainly involved in the organizational structure, helping to set up new branches and recruit new agents across Europe. After assuming the presidency of the UID, he met with President Erdoğan and a number of government and AKP officials who pledged to put Turkish government resources at his disposal to advance the political goals set for the UID. Using his new position, Kuş traveled all over the world, further expanding UID operations as a proxy group for Erdoğan.
Kuş, 59, moved to Germany at the age of 17. He had been involved in the violent Turkish nationalist group the Gray Wolves and held various positions with Almanya Ülkücü Türk Dernekler Federasyonu, the German branch of the Turkish Far Right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in the 1990s. He was Vice President of UID between 2013 and 2016 and continued his activities as a member of the UID Executive Committee until January 2021.
While trying to expand the UID across Europe, Kuş had worked closely with Külünk, a longtime confidant of President Erdoğan who led an armed Islamist faction in the late 1970s and early 1970s. 80 in Turkey. In 2007, he was reported by Turkish investigators who investigated him as a suspect in the Islamist terrorist group of the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders Front (İslami Büyük Doğu Akıncıları Cephesi, İBDA / C or IBDA-C).
Külünk managed to avoid legal trouble thanks to his friend Erdoğan, who had succeeded in hushing up investigations in Turkey but had not been able to escape the scrutiny of the German authorities. In 2017, a German police investigative report linked Ankara to a boxing gang in Germany accused of prosecuting opponents of the Turkish government. Former lawmaker and longtime friend of Erdoğan Külünk provided money to boxing gang Osmanen Germania in Germany to buy weapons, stage protests and prosecute criticism, investigation says of Erdoğan’s government, German media reported. Police investigations also suggested that Osmanen Germania had been in contact with the UID.
Kuş currently operates under the authority of AKP Vice President Efkan Ala, a former interior minister who heads overseas operations for the ruling party. Ala oversaw the UID election in January 2021 when Kuş was elected president.