Turkey’s president is leader of AKP movement, says minister
Deniz Zeyrek - MILAN
AA PhotoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) movement, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said, adding that there is “no point” in arguing whether Erdoğan’s clout was felt over the recent congress of the AKP.
“This movement’s leader is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the founding and honorary leader of this party. He is our leader, who has influenced all of us and whose remarks we need from time to time,” Zeybekci said.
“I don’t think he had a direct intervention at this past party congress [on Sept. 12], but I believe that honoring him is required,” he said, adding that Erdoğan is a “political president.”
For the first time since its founding in 2001, the AKP held its regular congress without the presence of its founding leader Erdoğan, but he made his clout felt with loyal names elected to the party’s decision-making body, overshadowing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s preferences after the latter’s reelection as AKP leader.
The composition of the AKP’s newly elected highest decision-making body, the Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), as well as changes made in its Central Executive Board (MYK) amounted to a substantial overhaul, with 11 newcomers added overall.
“It is natural for the president to make a contribution with his views, drawing the big picture and providing intellectual guidance. In short, our president is a political president and he has an experience. He has roots. We should benefit from these characteristics,” Zeybekci also said.
Having been elected to parliament for the first time in 2011 elections, Zeybekci took over as economy minister in December 2013.
Ruling out rumors of disagreements between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu, he also criticized recently delivered remarks by former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, a founder of the AKP, who suggested a “degeneration” process within the party over time.
“We first of all need to rescue this country from its ‘saviors.’ Where was Abdullah Gül?” Zeybekci said, referring to the former president who is also a founder of the party but who turned down an invitation to attend the recent party congress.
“He [Gül] is also in this party. I believe that putting him in some kind of divine position is wrong. Putting him in the position of ‘savior’ would be unfair to the party,” he added.
The economy minister also dismissed suggestions that the AKP should return to its “factory settings” and embrace moderates.
“Political parties should constantly get refreshed and should continuously be subject to evolution,” he said.