Sezer stuns all with unexpected 'gesture'

Outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer surprised Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday by telling him to submit his new Cabinet to his successor, expected to be elected in less than two weeks, for approval.

Sezer stuns all with unexpected 'gesture'

Outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer surprised Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday by telling him to submit his new Cabinet to his successor, expected to be elected in less than two weeks, for approval.

"He did not look at the list. I think he made a courteous gesture to the incoming president," a smiling Erdoğan told reporters after a brief meeting with Sezer at Çankaya Palace, where he was to submit his new Cabinet list. Erdoğan admitted that he was surprised by Sezer's move but added: "We can call this a gesture. … This is a positive move." Erdoğan opposed characterization of Sezer's move as a "rejection" of the proposed Cabinet, but declined to comment further on his brief conversation with the outgoing president, raising questions over whether it was a genuine gesture or his latest protest against the government before he ends his extended term in office.

Last week, Sezer asked Erdoğan to form a new government after his party was swept to victory in the July elections with a record 46.7 percent of the vote. Political observers had said earlier that Erdoğan might opt to wait for election of a new president so as to avoid a situation in which Sezer vetoes some of the new Cabinet. Erdoğan, however, said he had no problem in seeking Sezer's approval and took his list to him yesterday afternoon. Under the Constitution, a premier has 45 days to form a new government after being asked to do so.

Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) this week nominated current Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gül, for the presidency. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the secularist state establishment oppose his bid, saying he would undermine the secular order of the state. During the AK Party's last term in government, Sezer vetoed countless government appointments to state posts, causing serious tension between government and president and hindering the functioning of the bureaucracy.

Erdoğan declined to announce his proposed Cabinet to the press, saying the list would be made public at a later time.

On Wednesday the prime minister said he would be adding two more state ministries to his Cabinet but declined to say what they would be.

Erdoğan also announced he would introduce important changes to the structure of ministries; however, because of the legal amendments needed, the changes will not be reflected in the Cabinet list. The promulgation of the required laws appears impossible in the next two months as Parliament has yet to introduce its legislative agenda due to the presidential elections. Reshuffles are expected in the Cabinet following the amendments. The AK Party will justify its moves to restructure the Cabinet by reference to the EU harmonization process. The structural differences between the ministerial system in Turkey and the EU countries have led to serious problems erupting during negotiations with the EU, and the AK Party intends to address these problems in the new term.

Three ministries to be separated

In the previous term, the AK Party merged the Ministry of Forestry with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Culture with the Ministry of Tourism in order to reduce the number of ministries. The party will now re-introduce the old structure by separating the Ministry of Tourism from the Ministry of Culture. Under the new system, the General Directorate of Foundations will be subordinated to the Ministry of Culture. The AK Party is also considering the creation of a Ministry of Economy, a plan that it failed to fulfill in its first term.

The AK Party decision to address the growing water problems connected to global warming will divide the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, which currently contains 18 general directorates, into two separate ministries: the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Natural Resources. The latter will be charged with the care of Turkey's natural resources and will also include the Department of Water Affairs. The priorities of the ministry will be to ensure the effective use of water; the energy ministry will coordinate energy policies.

Two new ministries to be established

In consideration of the EU bid, the AK Party plans to create two additional ministries. According to the draft that leading party figures have been working on, a Ministry of Local Administrations and a Ministry of Science and Technology will be established to facilitate cooperation with EU authorities and implement national policies. The Ministry of Local Administrations will include the General Directorate for the Bank of Provinces, currently subordinate to the Ministry of Public Works and Settlement, and some directorates from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Ministry of Science and Technology is to include research institutions currently subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office.

Another step that will be taken in connection with the EU bid is the establishment of a Ministry of Coordination, which will be responsible for maintaining full coordination between economy-related ministries. In this system, a deputy prime minister will be assigned as minister of coordination to maintain central management of the finance and treasury ministries, the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat and those state entities whose major function involves the economy. No legal amendment is needed to introduce this change; the assignment of one of the deputy prime ministers by Erdoğan as coordinator will suffice to implement this project.

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Last Mod: 17 Ağustos 2007, 12:58
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