PM Yıldırım ‘honored’ to leave top AKP post
AA photoTurkish Premier Binali Yıldırım, who has chaired the Justice and Development Party (AKP) since last May when he replaced Ahmet Davutoğlu, expressed pride and honor in handing over the party reins to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at an extraordinary party congress on May 21.
“I feel honor and pride by transferring my top AKP post, which I have proudly assumed, to our president and the party’s founding president, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” he said at the convention, which was set to restore Erdoğan to the party helm.
Under the previous constitution’s rules, Turkey’s president could not be a member of a political party. An April 16 public referendum that overturned that rule will give Erdoğan broader powers while also paving the way for him to replace the PM as the chair of the cabinet.
“We took the first step of reforms and abolished the prime minister’s post,” Yıldırım said. “The people gave their message on April 16, and we are taking steps to meet the expectations of all our citizens, whether they voted ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ We will now quickly start working on laws to harmonize [the changes], seeking the opposition’s consensus.”
Yıldırım also said Turkey’s fight against terror groups would continue with determination.
“The fight against FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization], the separatist terrorist organization [Kurdistan Workers’ Party - PKK] and Daesh [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL] concern Turkey’s freedom and future,” he said.
“Our fight will continue resolutely,” said Yıldırım, adding that the government would behave “not mercifully but fairly” in the fight against the Gülen network, the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen blamed for the failed July 2016 coup.
Citing the newly formed State of Emergency Investigation Commission, tasked with reviewing the applications of civil servants dismissed under the post-coup bid state of emergency, Yıldırım said legislative measures had been taken to address issues of unjust treatment.
Yıldırım also said Turkey safeguarded the life and property of Turkey’s citizens through the Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, which began last August and concluded in March.
“Our fight in the region is not yet finished,” he added.
Carried out with Free Syrian Army (FSA) support, the operation aimed to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border.
Yıldırım said no country can make political moves in the region without Turkey, in a message to the United States and Russia, which both maintain links to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), despite Turkey’s objections.
“The whole world knows that the PKK, PYD, and YPG are the same. We also expect our allies to accept this reality, which they do not deny,” he added, alluding to the U.S. recognizing the PKK as a terrorist group, but failing to extend this designation to the PYD and YPG, which Turkey considers as offshoots of the PKK. Russia, meanwhile, does not recognize any of the groups as terrorists.