Davutoğlu sets out with ‘restoration program’

Davutoğlu sets out with ‘restoration program’

Uğur Ergan / Nuray Babacan ANKARA
Davutoğlu sets out with ‘restoration program’

Turkey's outgoing Foreign Minister and incoming Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu arrives at the Prime Ministry for a Cabinet meeting in Ankara on Aug 25. AFP Photo / Adem Altan

Ahmet Davutoğlu, the sole candidate for the ruling party congress today and likely next prime minister, is set to chart a course of “restoration” in the government’s new program, according a source close to the PM-designate.

“The era of great restoration” was what Davutoğlu spelled out after being nominated as the candidate by President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Aug. 21. However, the term does not refer to restoring the Ottoman Empire, the Davutoğlu aide stressed to daily Hürriyet.

The struggle against the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, also dubbed by the government and Erdoğan as the “parallel structure,” is another concept to be included in the government program.

Davutoğlu and his team carried out two studies over the weekend on the eve of the convention in Ankara, with one of them focusing on his inauguration and the other group revising the government’s program.

Davutoğlu reportedly told allies that he already had a speech in mind and would emphasize that “We are Turkey all together” and that this call would include references to all ethnic roots.

Separate teams worked on revisions on items to the judiciary, the Constitution and the economy and merged them into one text based on “restoration.”

“Once it is read out in Parliament, you will find information on the 2023 targets, necessary work to improve Turkey in all fields and the vision for action,” the source said.

“Seeing all these, you will notice that the comments on ‘returning to the Ottoman Empire, an Islamic state, are all unreal and baseless,” he added.

The new program does not aim to regress 90 years back but rather seeks to repair the republic, democracy, foreign policy and a model of the economy that has been “injured” for the past 90 years, according to the source.

However, the party is not considering giving further information before the speech in Parliament. The changes in the government program will not be very large, the source also said.

Mahir Ünal, a deputy chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) parliamentary group, said the target of the new government would be a “strong economy, strong defense and strong political will.” Ünal said the era would be called the “New Turkey and Process of Restoration,” with three focuses: The struggle against the parallel structure, the Kurdish peace process and the new Constitution.

The Gülen movement and the government have been at odds since Dec. 17, 2013, when a graft probe that engulfed Cabinet ministers and their families was launched. This was followed by government’s counter attack against civil servants and officials who were reportedly close to the Gülenists, who it accuses of organizing a “coup attempt” against the government.

Erdoğan has pledged to continue efforts to find a peaceful solution to the lingering Kurdish issue, as the government has already signaled that the military leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) might be included in the ongoing talks.

The program is slated to be read out in Parliament on Sept. 1 while the legislature may hold a vote of confidence on Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç clarified his words on the need for ministers to resign before the new prime minister starts shaping his Cabinet.

Arınç said his Aug. 25 suggestion was about politeness to the incoming prime minister and did not mean that the whole Cabinet had resigned.  

Also rouching on Arınç’s remarks, Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik said the move was a “requirement.”

“Membership in the central executive board will automatically end with the election of the new prime minister,” he said.

The new chairman of the party can choose anyone for these posts as long as the member is from the
AKP’s highest decision-making body, the Central Decision and Executive Board, he said.