Ahmet Davutoglu waves during a congress of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara. He was selected as the country's new prime minister. (Adem Altan / AFP)
ANKARA — Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday officially elected Ahmet Davutoglu, foreign minister, as the party’s new leader and the country’s new prime minister.
The current premier and party chair, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be inaugurated as Turkey’s president on Thursday. Erdogan, who was elected president on Aug. 10, convened the party’s 20-member Central Executive Board (MYK) on Aug. 21 to pick a new leader for the party and the country. Party officials said Davutoglu was Erdogan’s choice; he will formally step into the job at the party congress on Wednesday.
An academic-turned-diplomat, Davutoglu joined Erdogan’s government as a foreign policy adviser to the prime minister. His signature theme, “zero problems with neighbors,” has been mocked as “zero neighbors” after Turkey was left with a legacy of failure in the Middle East and beyond. Since Davutoglu became foreign minister in 2009, Turkish foreign policy has been criticized for shifting its main strategic priorities toward Russia and China, and away from the West and the NATO military alliance.
The powers granted by the Turkish constitution to the president are largely symbolic, but Erdogan made it clear that he would introduce a de facto executive presidential system. Analysts compared the situation to Russia’s, in which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin traded jobs with President Dmitry Medvedev yet retained his grip on governmental power.
Davutoglu is expected to name his Cabinet members by early September. Most political analysts agree that Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz would maintain his seat. ■