Erdogan introduces new cabinet after taking oath

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a new cabinet lineup on Saturday, naming a powerful spy chief as foreign minister and market-friendly Mehmet Simsek as finance minister, hours after being sworn in for a third term as president, Agence France-Presse reported.

Erdogan took the oath of office in parliament after winning a historic runoff election to extend his two-decade rule and promising to serve “impartially.”

He also called for unity and the anger and resentment of the campaign to be set aside as he spoke during a lavish ceremony at his presidential palace in Ankara attended by dozens of world leaders.

Turkey’s divisive leader won the May 28 runoff against a powerful opposition coalition, despite an economic crisis and anger over the response to February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people.

Erdogan won 52.18 percent of the vote while his secular rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, garnered 47.82 percent, official results show.

New cabinet

Erdogan changed almost all cabinet members except for the health and culture ministers.

He named former deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, a reassuring figure with international stature, as treasury and finance minister.

Addressing the country’s economic troubles will be Erdogan’s first priority, with inflation running at 43.70 percent, partly due to his unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to stimulate growth.

A former Merrill Lynch economist, Simsek is known to oppose Erdogan’s unconventional policies.

He served as finance minister between 2009 and 2015 and deputy prime minister in charge of the economy until 2018, before stepping down ahead of a series of lira crashes that year.

Erdogan appointed the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, as foreign minister.

Fidan has been at the helm of MIT since 2010 — and Erdogan once called the 55-year-old his “secret-keeper.”

Cevdet Yilmaz has been named vice president. Yilmaz served as minister of development in 2016 and became vice chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Turkey’s army chief, Gen. Yasar Guler, will serve as defense minister in the new cabinet in place of Hulusi Akar.

Akar and Guler, who were briefly taken hostage by putschists on the night of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, are known to be close allies of Erdogan.

Yusuf Tekin, former rector of Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University, became the country’s minister of education.

Mahinur Ozdemir Goktas, a Belgian-born Turkish diplomat who served as the country’s ambassador to Algeria, is the new family and social services minister, the only female member of the cabinet.

Goktas was also a member of the autonomous Brussels-Capital region’s parliament in Belgium from 2009 to the end of May 2015 from a centrist Francophone party. She was the first Belgian parliamentarian to wear a hijab. In May 2015, she was expelled from her party for not acknowledging the Armenian genocide on camera.

Vedat Isikhan, a former member of the presidential committee of social policy, was named minister of labor and social security

In the new, 18-member cabinet, Mehmet Ozhaseki will remain minister of environment, urban planning and climate change, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy as minister of culture and tourism, and Fahrettin Koca as health minister.

Former Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alparslan Bayraktar was promoted to the position of minister.

News Code 159057

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