ANKARA - Reuters
Yiğit Bulut during an Erdoğan rally. AA Photo
Newly inaugurated Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has appointed his close aide Yiğit Bulut to be his chief economics adviser, his office said on Aug. 30, a move likely to alarm investors already concerned over the management of the country's finances.
Bulut, an influential but divisive figure, was a key voice in the ear of Erdoğan when the latter was still prime minister, hitting international headlines during last summer’s Gezi Park protests when he claimed that foreign powers were trying to kill Erdoğan through telekinesis.
He is a vocal champion of the idea that a shadowy international "interest rate lobby" is working to sabotage Turkey's economy through higher rates, and declared his devotion to his patron by saying he was "ready to die for Erdoğan if necessary." His heroic announcement prompted a number of his critics to start referring to him by the English translation of his name, "Brave Cloud."
Bulut also made headlines earlier this year when he said that in the future Turkey would no longer need to maintain ties with Europe.
The announcement of new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's Cabinet saw the well respected team of Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan remain in place, despite rumors that Bulut could take over the economic reins from them. However, the subsequent announcement that Bulut would eventually be advising Erdoğan in the presidential palace has triggered speculation about possible high-level clashes on economic issues.
A victorious-sounding Bulut announced his appointment via his personal Twitter account. "Those who were celebrating have popped again. May God not make me ashamed!" he tweeted.
Erdoğan, who had held sway over politics as prime minister since 2003, was sworn in on Aug. 28 as Turkey's first popularly-elected president, cementing his position as its most powerful leader of recent times.
He has made it clear he will wield far greater power than previous presidents, in a role that up until now has been largely ceremonial.
Although with Erdoğan at the helm Turkey's economy has tripled in dollar terms, there have been signs in recent months of a slowdown, and some investors fear that fiscal policy is becoming increasingly politicized.
Markets were already showing signs of nerves on Aug. 29 amidst concerns of a possible turf war within the government over who will manage the economy.
But the appointment of Numan Kurtulmuş, deputy chairman in charge of economic affairs in the ruling AKP, as a deputy premier alongside Babacan also unnerved some analysts.