Interview with Euronewsport Magazine
Interview of Kazım Ünal & Euronewsport Magazine
- With the promotion of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries to the presidential level, domestic production efforts have begun to accelerate.  Kazım Ünal, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Menatek, who has succeeded in producing products for international companies, especially in land vehicles, answered our questions, stating that they believe in the future of the sector with the newly formed system.
- There has been a change in the public sector and the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries. Could you tell us about the reflection of this change on the private sector?
- With the transition to the new order, we think that the old bureaucratic process will be shortened more and faster decision-making mechanisms will operate. Time will show this development more clearly. However, when you think about the old system, we could see that decision-making mechanisms were working more slowly. In special areas such as the defense industry, the faster we can make decisions, the more we can move forward. For this reason, I think the change will have a positive impact on the sector.
- We know that projects in the defense industry take many years, for example the Altay project progressed very slowly. Can we say that national projects will be carried out faster in the future?
- As Menatek, we are a company that has been involved in the Altay project from the beginning. Indeed, the Altay project took us many years. We hope that with the new system, the implementation of national projects will accelerate and the Turkish defense industry will become more stable and stronger.
- The Presidency of Defence Industries has now also assumed the task of planning. How do you see this situation in terms of the future of the sector?
- This decision is seen as very important in terms of seeing the entire system from the top. Today, the Presidency of Defence Industries will perhaps look at the developments in the defence industry in neighboring countries and come up with plans. Of course, the Turkish Armed Forces will determine its own needs, but the Presidency of Defence Industries will identify many developments that they cannot see and will ask them to be produced. Especially in the last ten years, I think the importance given to the defense industry has been better understood. When you want to import a product at the most critical time, they can put obstacles in your way by saying that this product has a license. Today, Germany imposes a secret embargo on Turkey. In our negotiations with Germany, they do not deliver the product to us even though we have a price agreement and the delivery time is certain. They are imposing a secret embargo. For this reason, we must produce our own needs in the field of defense industry. There is a desire and excitement in this regard, and we need to produce without losing this excitement.
- Therefore, I think we need to understand the importance of domestic production.
- Turkey has difficulties in domestic production. US or German companies do not share the technical information of the products they give us. We are working in reverse to develop these products. We take the product in our hands and try to understand it. As of today, we are not at a very different point from developed countries, but there is a difference in experience between us. They built the internal combustion engine in the 1700s, while we established the assembly industry in 1968. We are trying to do the same work 170 years later. At the point we have reached now, the 170-year difference has been reduced to maybe 7, maybe 10 years. We can achieve that too and reach the same point. As long as we do not lose our determination to work.
- Do you continue to work on the Altay project?
- We continue to be present in the Altay project. As Menatek, we have worked on the subsystems of both US and German tanks. Therefore, Menatek's biggest wish is to transfer this know-how to our indigenous tank project. We are in talks with BMC on this subject, which have not yet been finalized.
- There are efforts to support SMEs in the field of defense industry. Can we get your thoughts on this subject?
- We do not think that our SMEs are sufficiently supported in this field. Support has increased in recent years, we do not deny this, but this is not enough. The Presidency of Defense Industry should be able to see all SMEs producing in Turkey and know who is doing what. They need to have data. If they start with such a method, they will contribute to everyone. Everyone needs to be developed with the guidance of the Presidency. As Menatek, we have been producing parts for the USA since 2004. I wrote to the Undersecretariat for Defence Industry and said that if you could tell us which products are produced by the Adapazarı and Kayseri factories in Turkey for tanks and artillery, we could publish those products in the US and mediate their sale. We said that we could get very large orders from here, but we received no response. Therefore, our expectation from the Presidency is to bring together SMEs like Menatek with the main platforms to strengthen our cooperation.

- Can you tell us about your export-related activities as Menatek?
- As Menatek, we are working very well with the USA, because we have become a company that can evaluate, read and test the technical specifications they provide. For this reason, we export mainly to the USA, the UK, Europe and some Far East and Central Asian countries.
- Can you tell us about your work on domestic studies?
- As Menatek, our goals in this regard are quite big. In 2017, in line with the demands of our foreign customers, we started to produce domestic products of our own design. This development was made through our engineers. While producing these products, we continue to make solid business developments with international companies in order to increase our exports. As a result of our work, we have succeeded in producing domestic original products and we aim to increase our contribution to the localization rate by bringing new and more ambitious ones to the sector in the coming period.
- Kaynak; Euronewsport