NEWS

New Turkish premier

Abdullah Gul was the final choice of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer for the post of prime minister. Gul, who last week received the mandate to form a government, belongs to the moderate wing of the Justice and Development Party (AK). The new prime minister announced that he wanted to cultivate Turkey’s ties with the West, promote his country’s application for accession to the European Union, and contribute to the recovery of the Turkish economy. However, the reins of government will in effect be held by the AK leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As Gul himself admitted, his term will be temporary. «It is our duty to put an end to this irregular situation,» he said, referring to the judicial decision which prevents Erdogan from taking up the premier’s post. Erdogan will only take over if Parliament revises the constitution. Last week, demonstrating who is really in charge, Erdogan himself announced the government’s program. The stance of the Turkish generals toward the new pro-Islamist government is still enigmatic. Their position on the other major issue facing Ankara, the Cyprus question, was clearer. During his visit to the occupied part of Cyprus, the leader of the Turkish armed forces, General Hilmi Ozkok, did not oppose the Annan proposal, but noted that he supports a just and permanent solution to the Cyprus question. The Turkish daily Cumhurriyet reported that the military leadership takes a positive view of the way the Annan plan deals with issues of equality and sovereignty, but does not like the proposals for the return of 8 percent of the occupied territory, and that they will propose new maps. Cumhurriyet adds that a meeting of the Turkish general staff with Foreign Ministry representatives noted that the proposal does not clarify the role of the international powers.