ISTANBUL (Reuters) - After being sworn in for a new presidential term, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his new cabinet of 17 ministers, which included prominent names and significant changes suggesting, according to analysts, the nature of the policies Erdogan plans to pursue in the next five years.
The new cabinet included 15 new ministers, in the largest campaign to renew ministerial positions, with Tourism Minister Mohamed Nouri Ersoy and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca maintaining their positions.
Observers of the new Turkish president's government recorded a decline in the presence of senior leaders in the Justice and Development Party in favor of technocrats, while the presence of "heavy names" - such as former intelligence chief Hakan Fidan in the position of foreign minister, and again Mehmet Şimşek, former finance minister and nicknamed the friend of the markets - returned to the same position - indications that the Turkish government will combine the continuation of foreign policy with a change in the economic model adopted in the coming years.
Saeed al-Hajj, a researcher and political analyst specializing in Turkish affairs, believes that the new government formation generally reflects interest in the results of the general elections, which witnessed a clear impact on the economy, and preparation for the upcoming municipal elections, especially in Istanbul and Ankara, which voted in the recent elections for the opposition candidate.
Hajj is likely – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that foreign policies under the new government will be closer to stability, while domestic policies – especially the economy – may carry variables.
Fidan takes the Foreign Ministry a clear signal of continuity in past policies (Reuters)
Fidan and Shemshek
The researcher pointed out that Fidan's appointment in the Foreign Ministry may be a clear indication of continuity in previous policies, especially since Fidan was not just a contributor and coordinator in foreign policy, but part of it and of the decision-making related to it recently, as he led the rapprochement process with a number of regional powers, and had a prominent role in the Syrian and Libyan files in particular.
Fidan is a veteran familiar with all foreign policy files, he said, expressing his expectation that Turkey's foreign policy based on rapprochement with regional powers that began more than two years ago will continue.
As for the appointment of Şimşek in economics as Minister of Finance and Treasury, he said, it indicates a change in the government's economic approach, given the man's approach based on the traditional approach to managing the economy.
The researcher suggested that Şimşek tacitly agreed with President Erdogan on a gradual transition period, but he carries the idea of change and enjoys credibility in the markets, both at home and abroad, explaining that his appointment to this position reflects Erdogan's prioritization of the economic challenge in the next few years.
Al-Hajj noted that the new formation was devoid of party leadership names, in disagreement with the previous government, as the ministers of foreign affairs, interior and justice were prominent leaders in the Justice and Development Party, and in parallel, he found that most of the new ministers came from within their ministries, so "they can be described as technocrats rather than partisans."
As an exceptional case, the new vice president, Cevdet Yilmaz, came from the party's leadership, unlike former Vice President Fuat Oktay, and this has to do with the fact that this presidential term may be Erdogan's last, says El Hajj.
The absence of Soylu and Akar
The absence of Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar from the new government was another milestone in the government scene, replaced by Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya in the interior and Chief of Staff Yasar Guler in defense.
Turkish researcher and journalist at state broadcaster TRT Aamir Suleiman believes that Soylu and Akar were candidates to continue, while Yerlikaya and Guler were reserve candidates, but Erdogan decided to keep all ministers in parliament to take advantage of their presence to achieve balance in the committees that will be formed in the parliament.
Suleiman pointed out – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that Soylu and former Minister of Industry Mustafa Warank are known for their very strong performance in parliament in response to the opposition.
Erdogan announced government line-up after swearing-in (Reuters)
Privacy of the Ministry of Defense
As for the Ministry of Defense, the Turkish journalist pointed out that the current approach due to what the situation imposed after the coup attempt in 2016 is to have the Minister of Defense from the army leaders to ensure that he has influence, strong relations and loyalty from officers within the military institution, which necessitated the appointment of Akar in 2018 and Guler now, in addition to the need for a minister from a military background to follow up on the files of defense industry projects.
He explained that the principle followed by Erdogan in almost all ministries is that ministers should be from within the ministry's cadres, so that they have adequate access to the important files being implemented, which is what happened in the interior that was given to Ali Yerlikaya, who is distinguished by his full knowledge of the counter-terrorism file, as he was governor in eastern provinces such as Igder and Sirnak, where confrontations occur from time to time between Turkish forces and PKK fighters.
Although the new names in Turkey's cabinet tend to be technocrats at the expense of party leaders, Erdogan's criteria for selecting his new ministers make the Turkish president's calculations accurate.
Turkish researcher and journalist Mehmet Tahiroglu says that Erdogan's personality, which focuses on the smallest details and follows them in various files, necessitates him to choose personalities consistent with him in the first place, and therefore the government cannot be described as technocrats in the comprehensive sense of the word, despite the fact that the new ministers have experience and professional background.
Tahiroglu saw – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that the presence of the new Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek is remarkable in this context; it is different from his predecessors, who successively assumed this ministerial portfolio, in terms of his strong personality and global reputation.
Tahir Davutoglu attributed Şimşek's exceptional case to the necessity of exacerbating the crisis, which often directly caused the cities of Istanbul and Ankara to lose the presidential elections to the opposition, albeit with a slight difference.
Why haven't the ministers of tourism and health changed?
Of the 17 ministers that make up the new government, Mohamed Nouri Ersoy and Fakhreddine Koca remained the only ones left untouched, as the AKP did not nominate them on its parliamentary lists.
The decision to continue the two ministers, according to the Turkish journalist, comes as a result of the success of each of them in making their own mark, in addition to their focus on working primarily and avoiding political tensions to a large degree.
Tahir Oglu pointed out that Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has earned the state treasury about $ 12 billion thanks to the boom in the tourism sector since he took office in 2018, and the role of Fahrettin Koca, Minister of Health, has emerged during the fight against the Corona epidemic, as well as during his focus on accelerating the construction of medical cities and strengthening the infrastructure of the health sector.