Davutoğlu’s to-do list prioritizes formation of the new government
Right away after he was designated the next chairman of the ruling party and prime minister by President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Aug. 21, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu rolled up his sleeves for the formation of the new government as the top item of his long to-do list as prime minister.
Erdoğan and Davutoğlu held a lengthy meeting Aug. 22 with the participation of their advisors, a day after the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Central Executive Board (MYK) named the foreign minister Erdoğan’s successor.
Although there were no statements about the content of the meeting, it is highly probable the two men have also exchanged their prospects about the next government, among other important issues.
Given the importance to keep the balance of power inside the AKP in the run-up to the 2015 elections, there are indications that Davutoğlu will opt for a limited reshuffle in the Cabinet that would only introduce three or four changes.
Erdoğan’s two closest advisors Yalçın Akdoğan and Binali Yıldırım are expected to join the Cabinet and Davutoğlu has to find an adequate individual to replace him as foreign minister. Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan and current EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu are regarded as the strongest options for this post.
One of the important decisions Davutoğlu will make will be regarding the economy management. There are strong talks that he prefers Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek to keep their positions until 2015 as not to give the wrong signals to the world markets. Babacan allegedly called his economy management team for a meeting early September, a development that was interpreted to say he would continue with his position.
Tight schedule for the government
Erdoğan will give the mandate for the formation of the government to Davutoğlu either Aug. 28 or Aug. 29 in order to not delay the process. The AKP’s extraordinary congress will be held Aug. 27, where Davutoğlu will be officially elected as the AKP chairman before the mandate is given to him. Depending on the date this mandate is given, Davutoğlu will introduce his Cabinet first to the approval of the president and then will receive the vote of confidence from Parliament. This process is expected to be finished in the first 10 days of September.
In any case, the formation of the government has the highest importance on Davutoğlu’s side, as this Cabinet will take the ruling party to the 2015 polls.
Following the composition of the government, Davutoğlu will sure make a speedy beginning to his office by focusing on a number of issues that were hinted by Erdoğan in his statement on Aug. 21 while introducing the foreign minister as the new AKP leader.
The continuity of AKP policies was the main message Erdoğan delivered to his successor by placing great significance on the Kurdish peace process, fight against the parallel state, maintenance of active foreign policy based on human conscience and values and etc.
Davutoğlu plans to boost Kurdish bid
Kurdish process: The ongoing resolution process will continue to be an important priority for the AKP government under Davutoğlu’s rule. To this end, Davutoğlu will likely keep Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay in the Cabinet as the coordinator of state institutions dealing with the issue. Given the fact that there is a non-ignorable link with the ongoing resolution process and speedily improving relationship between the Turkish government and Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Davutoğlu’s established ties with Arbil would bring about a value-added contribution to the process. In this new era, Ankara-Arbil relations are expected to reach their peak, which could positively affect Turkish engagement in resolving its own Kurdish question.
Fight against the parallel state: Erdoğan made very clear that one of the most important criteria in selecting Davutoğlu as his successor was his devotion and firmness in fighting against what he calls “the parallel state.” In his speech to give thanks, Davutoğlu reassured the fight will continue without any sign of weakness. Interior Minister Efkan Ala will stand as his best aid to this end, along with the potential entry of Mustafa Şentop to the Cabinet as the justice minister.
Foreign policy: As the former foreign minister, Davutoğlu will surely continue to be heavily involved in conducting the foreign policy with the help of his successor. At a moment when the entire Middle East is in a circle of fire that causes concern of a spillover, it’s highly expectable for the prime minister not to totally abandon this dossier to the foreign minister, particularly because of the ongoing hostage crisis, where 49 Turkish citizens were abducted by extremist jihadists nearly three months ago and Davutoğlu has been closely following the developments in the field. As suggested by Erdoğan, Davutoğlu is expected to carry out the foreign policy based on human values and conscience, not only in its region, but also in the globe.
New Constitution and 2015 elections: One of the points Erdoğan underlined among his expectations from the next government was the new Constitution. Erdoğan stressed he was sure Davutoğlu was keen on this issue, but the only way to go for it is to have a sufficient majority at the Parliament. Davutoğlu’s 2015 performance will be decisive in the realization of Erdoğan’s plans to adopt presidential system. Both Erdoğan and Davutoğlu are expected to use the motto “a new Constitution for new Turkey” on the eve of the parliamentary elections.