Erdogan dismisses Cabinet reshuffle claims

Turkish President says he will reconsider, reevaluate party structuring after serious discussions

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refuted claims regarding possible Cabinet reshuffle in the government.

Talking to media Wednesday before leaving for Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Erdogan was asked about a possible change in the Cabinet.

“There is nothing like that in the government’s agenda. The chairman (Binali Yildirim) did not suggest me anything like that,” Erdogan said, a day after rejoining ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

Erdogan led the AK Party for 13 years starting in 2001 but had to step aside when he became president in August 2014, due to a legal requirement for presidents to be politically neutral.

When asked about the possible changes in the party’s Central Decision Board (MKYK) and the party’s administration after his reelection as AK Party’s chairman on May 21, Erdogan said he would “reconsider and reevaluate the current units in the party after serious discussions.”

Erdogan underlined that these things would happen “if I would be reelected.”

Kilicdaroglu’s football analogy

To a question about main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s criticism on president retaining ties with his party, Erdogan said Kilicdaroglu “need to learn about his (CHP) party’s political background.”

On Tuesday, the CHP leader had remarked that a chairman of a political party cannot be the president of 80 million people.

Using a football analogy, Kilicdaroglu said: “It is like the captain of Fenerbahce [an Istanbul sports club] becoming a referee in a match in which Fenerbahce is playing.”

The president also said leading the country “fair and just is what matters,” no matter whether the president has ties with his party or not.

“As long as we respect the national will, it would be fine. In the end, the people can take back what they give in the first place.”

Erdogan became the fourth Turkish president to retain his party ties at a special ceremony in Ankara on Tuesday.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, maintained his membership of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), as did his successor, Ismet Inonu. Turkey’s third president, Celal Bayar, was also a member of the Democrat Party.

Russia visit

Speaking about the details of his visit to Sochi, Erdogan said the main topic of his meeting with Putin is Syria.

“There is an effective cooperation with Russia on Syria. Our main aim is to stop the bloodshed in Syria as soon as possible and reach a political solution while protecting territorial integrity of the country,” Erdogan said.

“We cannot stay silent any longer to baby killings and massacre of people in hospitals,” he said. “We pay the utmost respect to fortify the ceasefire that was agreed on Astana talks.”

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced.

The latest Astana talks that was held on May 3-4 focused on the cease-fire that came into effect on Dec. 30, have been brokered by Turkey — which backs the Syrian opposition — and Russia and Iran, who support the Bashar al-Assad regime.

The president also said that he and Putin are “working very hard” to revitalize the Russia-Turkey relations.

“Neither Turkey nor Russia can waste any more minute to bureaucracy,” Erdogan said. “If we want to achieve $100 billion trade volume, we need to encourage that.”