Cabinet to hold its first meeting since reshuffle

Cabinet to hold its first meeting since reshuffle

Cabinet to hold its first meeting since reshuffle

Interior Minister Güler (R) gives flowers to outgoing minister Şahin. AA photo

The Turkish Cabinet will hold its first meeting today following a minor cabinet reshuffle, which is thought to be linked to the ongoing peace process, particularly after the removal of the controversial interior minister.

Newly appointed Interior Minister Muammer Güler insisted on more rule of law and democracy-focused policies during the handover ceremony Jan. 26.

“Security should be provided with a people-oriented approach on the basis of freedoms, rights and democracy; this is our vision for the fight against terrorism. We will attach importance and priority to resolution-oriented projects that develop fundamental rights and freedoms and that strengthen our democracy,” Güler said on Jan. 26.

A long-expected Cabinet reshuffle took place on Jan. 24, affecting four ministries with the most important change occurring at the Interior Ministry as the much-criticized İdris Naim Şahin left his post to Güler, a Mardin deputy of the ruling party.

The changes came just weeks after the government launched a new initiative to solve the Kurdish issue by entering into dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The appointment of Güler in place of Şahin, who was strongly criticized during his tenure for his nationalistic comments, has been interpreted as being designed to lend impetus to the peace process.
In further comments during the hand-over ceremony, Güler cited his hometown Mardin as an example for all of Turkey, saying that different cultures and ethnic groups in the city had been living peacefully for centuries.

“We need such brotherhood for all of Turkey. We hope this atmosphere of brotherhood will be realized in Turkey,” Güler said.

As part of the Cabinet reshuffle, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay was replaced by Ömer Çelik, the head of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) foreign relations department; Education Minister Ömer Dinçer by Nabi Avcı and Health Minister Recep Akdağ by Edirne deputy Dr. Mehmet Müezzinoğlu.

During the handover ceremony on Jan. 26, Çelik praised Günay’s efforts to protect the cultural heritage of Turkey.

“In fact, the Culture and Tourism Ministry is a very strategic ministry for our party and the government because we have cultural ties with many parts of the world even though we do not have any military or economic presence. Thus, culture is the core of our existence. Hence, it’s an honor for me to take such a responsibility,” Çelik said.

Issuing a message for healthcare workers following his appointment, Müezzinoğlu said the transformation of the Turkish healthcare system that was launched during Akdağ’s tenure would continue.

“The transformation program of the healthcare system that was launched 11 years ago during our government’s tenure has been appreciated by our people. ... We will achieve our targets in the transformation of our healthcare system with the efforts of all,” Müezzinoğlu said in a message he issued on Jan. 27.

In a separate development, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to depart for Qatar late Jan. 28 for meetings with Qatari officials on Jan. 29.

Erdoğan will have meetings with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, as well as Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber al-Thani.

Regional and international issues including the ongoing Syrian turmoil, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and developments in Northern Africa are expected to top the agenda for the talks.