SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-Turkey’s president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected claims that Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister who is set to replace him as prime minister, would merely do his bidding as he continues to maintain his grip on the government.
His comments on Wednesday during a farewell speech to delegates of his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, come amid widespread expectations that Davutoglu would take more of a backseat role and that Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for over a decade, will continue to rule Turkey from behind the scenes.
“The AKP is not a one-man party, it never has been and never will be,” Erdogan told party delegates who convened to confirm Davutoglu, 55, as its new chairman and prime minister-designate.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Istanbul, said that as president-elect, Erdogan “should be above politics,” but that he had told his supporters that he was not leaving them.
Although the office of president is mainly ceremonial, Erdogan has indicated he wants to transform the position to an executive one. He has said he will activate its seldom-used powers, such as summoning, and presiding over cabinet meetings.
Erdogan nevertheless suggested that Davutoglu would not veer from the goals he has set for Turkey, saying: “The only things that are changing today are the names.”
Erdogan, Turkey’s first popularly-elected president, is to be sworn in Thursday.
Davutoglu would be asked to form the new government immediately after his inauguration ceremony and the new cabinet would be established by Friday, Erdogan said.
Davutoglu has steered Turkish foreign policy as Erdogan’s chief adviser since 2003 and as foreign minister since 2009.
Though he won praise in his early years for efforts to forge closer ties with Turkey’s old foes, detractors say his “zero problems with neighbours” policy has since failed, leaving Turkey with very few allies in the Middle East.
Davutoglu’s main task will be to keep the party together after Erdogan. He will also be tasked with leading the party to victory in parliamentary elections in June 2015, when Erdogan hopes to secure a strong majority that would allow the party to change the constitution and change Turkey’s political system to a presidential one.
Davutoglu also said that membership of the European Union was a strategic target for Turkey and will be pursued decisively.