New Turkish PM Yildirim names new Cabinet, says growth through production is first priority

Turkey's new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (left) shakes hands with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, on May 24, 2016.
Turkey's new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (left) shakes hands with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, on May 24, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA (Reuters/AFP) - Turkey's new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday (May 24) that his first priority on the economy was growth through production, vowing to encourage investment and employment across the country.

Mr Yildirim earlier announced his new Cabinet, keeping key members of the economic management team in place.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, an anchor of investor confidence, was again named as one of five deputy prime ministers, although it was not immediately clear whether he would retain overall responsibility for the economy. Finance Minister Naci Agbal also kept his position.

Mr Yildirim also said that the country's current Constitution was far from meeting its needs and that work would begin immediately on a new text.

In his first speech in parliament after announcing the new cabinet, Mr Yildirim said the Constitution needed to reflect the fact that the head of state was now popularly elected.

President Tayyip Erdogan wants Turkey to introduce a full presidential system, something Mr Yildirim has vowed to support.

Mr Yildirim rejected suggestions that Mr Erdogan was meddling in government affairs, saying that Mr Erdogan was carrying out his political responsibilities as head of state.

He also said operations against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the largely Kurdish south-east would continue until they stopped their attacks.

Key names in the former Cabinet remained in place, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, and Interior Minister Efkan Ala as well as deputy prime minister in charge of economy Mehmet Simsek, in a relief to markets.

In the biggest change, ruling party spokesman Omer Celik will be new EU affairs minister, replacing Mr Volkan Bozkir, one of the brokers of a controversial deal with the European Union to curb the flow of migrants to Europe.

Mr Fikri Isik also replaces Mr Ismet Yilmaz as defence minister and there was no place in the Cabinet for powerful deputy prime minister Yalcin Akdogan.

Mr Erdogan's son-in-law Berat Albayrak keeps his job as energy minister, after suggestions he could have been promoted to an even more senior job.

Mr Yildirim, seen a close ally of Mr Erdogan, was on Sunday elected by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as its chairman, replacing Mr Ahmet Davutoglu, who stepped down after a power struggle with the President.

Mr Erdogan, who is hosting a two-day UN humanitarian summit in Istanbul, flew to Ankara on Monday for a late-night meeting with the new prime minister, who has vowed to beef up the president's powers through changes to the Constitution.

Mr Yildirim made the announcement after a second round of talks with the President at his vast presidential palace in Ankara.