Erdogan reshuffles government
by NAT da Polis
Concerns for the AKP hold and economic crisis. Foreign Ministry goes to politician unfavourable to European membership.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan went ahead with a cabinet reshuffle yesterday May 1st, which saw a return to demonstrations after a 30 year ban, but not without minor clashes.  The reshuffle had been announced after recent administrative elections saw Erdogan’s AKP party slide to 39%.  The reshuffle aims to counter the effects of the economic crisis which are beginning to be felt across the nation.

Among the announced changes – 8 ministers removed, 9 new ministers appointed – the most notable is the distancing of the Minister for the Economy Mehmet Simcek, who has been accused by Turkey’s business leaders of incompetence in managing the financial and economic crisis.  He is being replaced by the former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, who filled the role of economy chief in the last legislature.

Erdogan commented on the substitution of Simcek – who will take up a post at the Ministry for Finance – saying : “I decided to proceeded in changing the head of economic affairs, because we want the minister who manages such issues to be more decisive and capable in dealing with the current economic situation.  With the return of Ali Babacan to head of the economy the government hopes, among other things, to obtain the long desired 45 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund”.

The appointment of Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu, chief advisor to Erdogan on international politics, to the Foreign Ministry is also significant, as is the return of Bulent Arinc to the governing cabinet.

Davutoglu's appointment marks a rare phenomenon in Turkish politics: an official joining the cabinet without being a parliament member.  He is a highly influential figure, who sees Turkey as a regional power.  Davutoglu boasts excellent ties with the Middle East and seems to nurture a reluctance regarding European Union membership.  It is said that he supports a Turkish role traced along the lines of the neo-Ottoman model.

Arinc is a pivotal figure within the AKP, for his support of the turban.  He will take on the post of Chief Security advisor, at a critical moment for the Ergenekon issue, a terrorist group accused of “inciting an armed revolt against the state”.

The other changes regard the ministerial posts for justice, finance, energy, education and industry.

The new government cabinet is composed of 27 members, one more than the previous cabinet, including Prime Minister.