Erdogan appoints son-in-law as finance minister

After being sworn in for second term as president, Erdogan names his son-in-law as the country’s finance minister.

Elad Benari ,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday named his son-in-law as the country’s finance minister, hours after he was sworn in for a second presidential term, AFP reported.

Erdogan took his oath of office in parliament under a new presidential system which gives him greater powers and which has been denounced by opponents as a one-man regime.

Describing the monumental change as a "new beginning", he vowed at a later ceremony at his vast Ankara presidential palace to be the president of all 81 million Turks.

"We have come not to be master but to be servant of our people," he added, according to AFP.

He then unveiled the first cabinet under the new system, appointing his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, 40, to the crucial post of finance minister.

Army chief of staff General Hulusi Akar joined the government as defense minister but Mevlut Cavusoglu kept the post of foreign minister.

Fuat Oktay, a former head of Turkey's emergencies agency, has been named as the sole vice president, a newly-created post.

Erdogan was reelected as president in the elections in late June by winning 52.5% of the vote in the first round, thus preventing a run-off.

The new system, which dispenses with the office of prime minister, was agreed in a bitterly-fought 2017 referendum narrowly won by the "Yes" camp.

The president now sits at the top of a vertical power structure marked by a slimmed-down government with 16 ministries instead of 26 and multiple bodies reporting to him.

In one of the most significant changes, the EU affairs ministry, set up in 2011 to oversee Turkey's faltering bid to join the bloc, is being subsumed into the foreign ministry.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim now goes down in history as the 27th and final holder of the post in Turkey. He is expected to become speaker of the new parliament, noted AFP.

Since first taking office, Erdogan has staked out a bellicose anti-Israel position, freezing ties with the Jewish state after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, in which 10 Turkish militants were killed while attempting to run Israel’s security blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In May, Erdogan compared Israel to Nazi Germany, after Israeli forces opened fire on Gazans attempting to breach the Israeli border fence.

Shortly after he was reelected, Erdogan received congratulatory phone calls from Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

According to the PA’s official Wafa news agency, Abbas congratulated Erdogan on the success of the Turkish democratic process.

Haniyeh reportedly told Erdogan that a delegation of senior Hamas leaders would visit Turkey soon to personally congratulate him.

While Erdogan was easily reelected as president, his AKP party failed to win a majority in legislative elections and will need support from its allies in the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) which could push it into more hardline policies.

Erdogan has also pledged to end the state of emergency that has been in place since the failed July 2016 coup and which has seen the biggest purge in the history of modern Turkey.