BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI
Presidential and parliamentary elections are over. However, the country will have local elections 10 months later. The new cabinet established by President Erdogan shows that the AK Party is planning a complete victory by taking back the big cities that it lost to the opposition in the latest local elections in 2019.
The fact that Mehmet Simsek has been appointed as the head of the economic management gives the message of a return to orthodox economic policies to the outside world. The appointment of Cevdet Yilmaz as vice president reinforces this message.
CRITICAL CHANGES IN THE FOREIGN MINISTRY
The Director of the MIT (National Intelligence Organization) Hakan Fidan, who was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs, had already been acting as a diplomat on the sinister issues of Turkish foreign policy for a long time. Fidan was always present as the head of the intelligence service in relations with Russia, the Libya issue, and the contacts between [Mevlut] Cavusoglu- [Hulusi] Akar duo in Syria. The appointment of Fidan as the minister even though Akar and Cavusoglu are not included in the new cabinet seems to be the assurance of the continuity of the policies followed in these regions in the new government.
Fidan, who worked as a consultant at the Australian Embassy in Turkey after his military career and chose the topic ‘Intelligence and Foreign Policy: Comparison of British, American and Turkish systems’ for his master’s thesis, is also a name that knows how things work in the West. The fact that he also took part in the nuclear talks between the West and Iran as Turkey’s Sherpa at the International Atomic Energy Agency before his position at MIT, also increases his foreign policy dominance.
The fact that Fidan was the actor who carried out the Oslo negotiations for the solution of the Kurdish issue during the period when he was Deputy Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry before he became the head of MIT, also signals that his duty in the cabinet may go beyond foreign policy.
THE NEW MINISTER OF DEFENSE IS ALSO FROM THE GENERAL STAFF
It is also noteworthy that Erdogan appointed the head of the army, the Chief of General Staff Yasar Guler, as the Minister of Defense. Thus, it has been shown that the policy pursued by Hulusi Akar will continue and the support of the army will be obtained from the very beginning in the policies to be followed by the government.
Another noteworthy name in the new cabinet is Mahinur Ozdemir Goktas, the name chosen for the Ministry of Family. Making a name as the first deputy wearing a headscarf in Europe in Belgian politics, Goktas was awarded the King Leopold Award for her political work in Belgium.
Likewise, the fact that the Minister of Energy, Alparslan Bayraktar, has conducted relations with the West for a long time in his career at the Ministry and that his father-in-law is currently serving as Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington, reinforces his dominance in international politics.
PARTICIPANTS IN ERDOGAN’S OATH CEREMONY
Foreign guests attending Erdogan’s oath-taking ceremony also contain critical messages about the policies to be followed. Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Venezuelan President Maduro, who was seated on Erdogan’s right and left at the official dinner after the ceremony, were like the symbolic expression of whom Ankara considers the greatest friend. Likewise, Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, who is the only leader from Europe to attend the ceremony, gave the message that Ankara and Budapest will act together on many issues in relations with the West in the coming period.
The surprise guest of the ceremony was Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan. The fact that Pashinyan paid a personal visit to Ankara and congratulated Erdogan at the ceremony, in which Azerbaijani Leader Aliyev was present, was an indication that both Turkey-Armenia normalization talks would continue and that the Baku-Yerevan peace process was close.
It should also be noted that Nechirvan Barzani, the leader of the Kurdish administration in Northern Iraq, was also present at the ceremony, although it did not attract much attention. Ankara will continue to cooperate closely with the Kurds of Northern Iraq, from the Syrian issue to energy policies.
We should also mention the leaders whose absence was felt at the ceremony.
It was remarkable that no leader from the Western front apart from Orban attended the ceremony, as well as that no leader from the Arab world, with whom Erdogan has been trying to improve relations recently, attended the ceremony.