FT: Erdogan limits ministerial shake-up

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, confounded expectations by naming a new cabinet on Wednesday with few significant changes, beyond those he was obliged to make due to resignations and the elevation of Abdullah Gul to the presidency.

FT: Erdogan limits ministerial shake-up
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, confounded expectations by naming a new cabinet on Wednesday with few significant changes, beyond those he was obliged to make due to resignations and the elevation of Abdullah Gul to the presidency.

Mr Gul approved the new cabinet, which will now be presented to parliament next Wednesday for a vote of confidence. The new government's programme is set to be announced on Friday.

Approval of the cabinet is a formality given the clear majority held by Mr Erdogan's moderate Islamist, Justice and Development party (AKP) following last month's general election.

"It's a balanced team, with no major surprises," said Cengiz Candar, a columnist on the Referans newspaper, pointing out that it was in keeping with the AKP's election slogan "Yol'a devam" – literally "Carrying on the same road".

"The understanding is that, as the AKP won an increased share of the vote in the election, the outgoing government was a success, so no need for major changes" Mr Candar said.

The most significant change is the move of Ali Babacan, economy minister, to the foreign ministry, and his retaining responsibility as chief negotiator with the European Union.

"That's a clear signal to Europe that they are very serious in their aim to join the EU," said Mr Candar, adding that the appointment of Mehmet Simsek, a former senior manager at Merrill Lynch, as the new minister for the economy should be well-received in western financial circles.

With most leading ministers retaining their posts – and justice minister Cemil Cicek and deputy prime minister Mehmet Ali Sahin switching jobs – the biggest changes were in the ministries of the environment and the interior. The outgoing environment minister, Osman Pepe, is believed to have been held responsible for the failure of his ministry to cope adequately with the crippling drought. He is replaced by Veysel Eroglu, former head of the state water authority.

Abdulkadir Aksu, outgoing interior minister, has been criticised for the worsening security situation in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish south-east, where attacks by the separatist Kurdish Workers party (PKK) have killed dozens of soldiers recently.

Mr Aksu's replacement by Besir Atalay, an associate of Mr Gul, has been interpreted as strengthening the hold Mr Erdogan and Mr Gul have over the party they founded jointly in 2001 after defecting from another more Islamist party which was later closed by the courts.

Financial Times
Last Mod: 30 Ağustos 2007, 09:37
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