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Minister of Finance of Turkey Mehmet Simsek


After being sworn in as president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reshuffled much of his cabinet. Erdoğan on Saturday appointed Mehmet Simsek, an economist respected in the financial markets, as finance minister. Simsek, a former banker at Merrill Lynch in London, returns to the cabinet as finance minister after a five-year hiatus from politics.

The economist is to lead the finance department again and save the economy of Turkey. Simsek is highly respected on the financial markets and is regarded as a representative of the generally applicable rules of economic and financial policy.

End of low interest rate policy possible

The appointment is likely to mean a departure from the economic course, which has so far been rather unusual in Turkey and does not meet general standards. For example, despite extremely high inflation, the central bank had lowered interest rates instead of raising them in the fight against inflation. Behind it is Erdoğan, who describes himself as an "enemy of interest rates" and wants to boost the economy with cheap money. As a result, the national currency, the lira, depreciated drastically, which in turn exacerbates the inflation problem.

Turkey is currently struggling with massive inflation of officially around 44 percent. Simsek, on the other hand, is considered a representative of an orthodox financial and economic policy – it is expected that he will abandon the controversial low interest rate policy.

These are the other members of the cabinet:

  • Yaşar Güler was appointed Minister of Defence. Since 2018, he has been Chief of the General Staff. He was the military chief during Turkey's military operations in Syria in 2019 and 2020 and also oversaw subsequent military operations there and in Iraq.

  • Cevdet Yilmaz, an orthodox economic manager, is now vice president. Previously, he was Minister of Development, Deputy Chairman of the AKP's Economic Department and Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for the economy.

  • The new Minister of the Interior is Ali Yerlikaya, who has been the governor of Istanbul since 2018.

  • The only woman in the cabinet is the new Minister of Family Affairs, Mahinur Özdemir Göktaş.

  • Erdoğan's long-time confidant, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, will become the new foreign minister. He has headed the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) since 2010, before that he was an adviser in the Prime Minister's Office. Fidan was a non-commissioned officer in the Turkish army from 1986 to 2001 and headed the Turkish Agency for Development and Cooperation from 2003 to 2007.

  • Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who had been Turkey's foreign minister for almost ten years, is no longer part of the new cabinet.

Erdoğan was confirmed as president last Sunday in a run-off election with a good 52 percent of the vote. On May 14, his Islamic-conservative AK Party and its partners had already won a majority in parliament. The election was considered unfair because of the AKP's and Erdoğan's control of state resources and the media in the country.