Recep Tayyip Erdogan Sworn in for Third Term as Turkish President, Announces New Cabinet.

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Erdogan’s New Cabinet Signals Shift to Conventional Economic Policies

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who officially began his third presidential term after taking the oath of office, has revealed his new cabinet lineup. The appointment of Mehmet Simsek, a respected former banker, as the finance minister suggests a potential shift toward more conventional economic policies. Erdogan’s re-election for a five-year term extends his rule in Turkey, a crucial NATO country bridging Europe and Asia, to potentially a quarter-century.

Mehmet Simsek Returns as Finance Minister

In the announcement of his new cabinet, Erdogan reintroduced Mehmet Simsek, a former finance minister and deputy prime minister, as the head of the economy. Simsek, previously associated with Merrill Lynch in London, assumes the role of treasury and finance minister after a five-year hiatus from politics.

Addressing Turkey’s Economic Challenges

The appointment of Simsek comes at a time when Turkey is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis driven by high inflation rates, which peaked at an alarming 85% in October and has since moderated to 44%. The Turkish lira has also experienced a depreciation of over 10% against the US dollar since the beginning of the year. Critics attribute these challenges to Erdogan’s policy of reducing interest rates to stimulate growth, which contradicts conventional economic wisdom advocating rate hikes to combat inflation. Simsek’s appointment indicates a potential departure from these “unorthodox” policies.

Other Key Appointments

In addition to Simsek, Erdogan selected Hakan Fidan, the former head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency, MIT, as the new foreign minister. Fidan, a former soldier with a doctorate in international relations, replaces Mevlut Cavusoglu, who had held the post since 2014. Furthermore, Gen. Yasar Guler, the chief of military staff, will assume the role of defense minister.

Inauguration Ceremony and Erdogan’s Vision for Turkey

Erdogan’s inauguration ceremony in Ankara was attended by numerous foreign dignitaries, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt. Erdogan’s campaign emphasized presiding over a new “Turkish century” as the nation approaches its centennial in October. During the ceremony, Erdogan expressed his intention to introduce a new constitution, aiming to replace the current one established after the 1980 military coup and foster a more inclusive and freedom-promoting democratic system.

Challenges Ahead and Erdogan’s Legacy

Erdogan begins his third term as president amid various domestic challenges, such as the repatriation of Syrian refugees and the reconstruction efforts following a devastating earthquake in February. Serving as Turkey’s longest-serving leader, Erdogan has consolidated his power through constitutional changes, transforming the presidency into a significantly influential position. However, critics have voiced concerns over democratic regression during his second decade in office, citing the weakening of institutions, media censorship, and the imprisonment of political opponents and critics. The recent election, deemed free but not entirely fair by international observers, saw Erdogan defeat opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who aimed to promote democracy and improve relations with the West.

SOURCE: Images by Malay Mail.

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