Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is losing popular support in the country, former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis told Al Arabiya, as a result of a “17-year period of staying in power” and “mistakes made in foreign policy and the economy.”
In an interview with Al Arabiya, Yakis discussed former premier and party member Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation, and said that “Davutoglu did not wait for the party to expel him following his statements against the party. He refused to stay despite [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s proposal to work with him.”
Former Prime Minister Davutoglu announced his resignation from Erdogan’s ruling party on September 13, and said that he has plans to form a new political movement.
He has recently been critical of Erdogan’s policies, especially concerning freedom of expression, and was the second key AKP figure to resign from the party after Ali Babacan - a former deputy prime minister and economy minister, who in July also announced plans for a new party.
“Davutoglu and Babacan are opposed to the deteriorating economic and democratic conditions, as well as the [lack of] freedom in the country. They may have a chance at winning the next elections as a result of the ruling party’s failures,” he added.
Yakis, who was expelled from Erdogan’s ruling party for rejecting the president’s policies in the Middle East, said that early elections in Turkey “may be a possibility if Erdogan could estimate the losses his party will face in the 2023 elections.”
The AKP ordered a re-run of the Istanbul mayoral vote on May 6 following the defeat of Erdogan’s party, citing what they say are irregularities that affected the outcome.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won in the capital Ankara and Istanbul for the first time in 25 years in the March 31 local elections, in a major setback for Erdogan, who served as Istanbul’s mayor in the 1990s.
Erdogan’s ruling AKP and its nationalist MHP allies have since called for the vote in Istanbul to be re-run. The parties have also filed appeals to annul results in two Istanbul districts, Buyukcekmece and Maltepe, over the same claims.
“The decision to hold early elections in Turkey goes back to Erdogan. If he decides that his AKP party will face more losses during the elections in 2023, then he will resort to holding early elections.
The former minister also criticized the dismissal of three Kurdish mayors in the country, saying that “replacing them with trusted officials is against the democratic principles that the AKP used to cherish in the early stages of its rule.”
He added that when the AKP was established in 2001, “We preferred to have a transfer of power take place through local authorities, but what the party is doing now is the opposite of what was promoted in its early years.”
Intervening in Syria
Turkey’s intervention in Syria was “wrong from the very first day,” Yakis said, adding that, “Turkey should not get involved in Syria’s internal affairs.”
Turkey has been heavily involved in the Syrian civil war since 2016. The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.
“It should have limited its participation to the humanitarian aspects of the crisis. Sending forces to a neighboring country is unacceptable under international law,” he added.
Turkey could have promoted its national interests in Syria, the former minister said, by avoiding direct military intervention.