Davutoglu Paid the Price for Disagreements with Erdogan

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

5th May, 2016


Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu stated his resignation on May 5th. According to the official statement, he did it in the interests of the party of justice and development party (AKP), which is preparing to usher in a new era”. However, experts speak about the incipient rivalry between him and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russian and foreign analysts all called Davutoglu the architect of modern Turkey’s foreign policy, but believe that it will not change with his departure and will remain expansionary.

The resignation of Davutoglu, who in 2014 was one of the closest allies of Erdogan, has fueled speculation about a possible split in the ruling party, however, the politician hurried to refute this.

“A strong AKP government will continue to lead the country in the next 4 years, and there should be no doubt about security and stability,” Davutoglu said, speaking at the AKP headquarters in Ankara. The politician also assured that his personal relations with the President remain “brotherly” and he’ll “never say anything bad about the President.”

Meanwhile, the media noted that the differences between the President and Prime Minister were ongoing for a long time and dealt with the most important aspects of public policy. Davutoglu, in particular, advocated negotiations with the Kurdistan workers party, which Erdogan declared a merciless war on, and he defended the independence of the Central Bank of the country, from which the head of state sought lower interest rates. The Prime Minister also spoke out against the arrests of experts and journalists who in recent years regularly were taken to court for criticizing the policies of Erdogan.

Director of the Center for Oriental studies, International Relations, and Public Diplomacy, Turkologist Vladimir Avatkov, told “Izvestia” that Erdogan wants to turn Turkey from a parliamentary into a presidential Republic, and he is not satisfied with the strengthening of the Prime Minister.

“Erdogan did not expected the strengthening of Davutoglu, which was not perceived by ordinary people that are the main electorate of the AKP, and the Prime Minister gained experience and became a better speaker,” explains the analyst. “Western sympathetic leaders could support him, but now they have enough of their own worries.”

According to Avatkov, current events will lead to a further increase in Erdogan’s power.

“There are rumors about early parliamentary elections. He may even once again lead the AKP, and in the future he may combine the posts of President and Prime Minister,” said the expert.

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Davutoglu, a former University Professor, first greeted the public as the Minister of Foreign Affairs – a position he held from May 2009 to August 2014. He is considered to be the chief ideologist of the neo-Ottoman vision with an expansionist foreign policy. He held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which ended in failure and active intervention of Turkey in the conflict. Last fall, Davutoglu said that he personally gave the order to shoot down the Russian Su-24, which resulted in airstrikes on militants close to the border of Turkey.

However, an expert on Turkey from the London analytical center Chatham House, Fadi Hakura in a conversation with “Izvestia” expressed confidence that even with the departure of Davutoglu, Ankara’s foreign policy will remain the same.

“Davutoglu is indeed the architect of modern Turkey’s foreign policy, however, his departure does not change anything since key decisions are made by President Erdogan. This also applies of course in relation to Syria and Russia,” said Hakura.

“I agree with Mr Avatkov, who believes that Davutoglu sought to make Turkey an active player in the international arena, to transform it from a regional power in the world and in this respect was strongly influenced by Erdogan.

With his departure, foreign policy will remain the same, but is likely to be impulsive and less deliberate,” says the Russian analyst. “Perhaps, there will be a weakening of the Western vector, which Davutoglu flirted with, but enabled work with Muslim countries, particularly in Central Asia.

Davutoglu will be the acting Prime Minister until 22nd May, when an emergency AKP meeting will take place. Speaking about possible successors, the London expert pointed primarily to the Ministers of Transport and Energy. The latter – 38-year-old Berat Albayrak – is Erdogan’s son-in-law.

President Erdogan will assign someone completely loyal to him for the position of Prime Minister,” said Fadi Hakura of “Chatham House”.

The experts agreed that the departure of Davutoglu does not mean a split in the ruling AKP or the fact that Erdogan has been weakened.

“Erdogan is AKP. The party was set up for him, and his position is unshaken,” emphasizes Vladimir Avatkov.

“Turkey really is now in economic difficulty, growth has slowed, but the crisis in the economy is premature to speak of. Erdogan’s credibility remains high,” adds Fadi Hakura.

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