ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkey’s prime minister reshuffled the bulk of his Cabinet Friday, appointing the chief architect of the country’s increasingly active role in the Middle East and Caucasus as his new foreign minister.
Erdogan named his foreign policy adviser Ahmet Davutoglu to replace Ali Babacan as foreign minister, with Babacan becoming economy minister.
Davutoglu, 50, is considered to be the force behind Turkey’s policy of cultivating closer ties with the Islamic world and the Middle East. He mediated several rounds of indirect talks between Syria and Israel last year.
A professor of international relations at Istanbul’s Beykent University, Davutoglu is the only Cabinet minister to be appointed outside of parliament.
Friday’s reshuffle also replaced the ministers of justice, finance, education, housing, industry and trade and energy.
Davutoglu visited Washington DC on March 17-21, to discuss critical developments in the Middle East before President Obama’s visit to Turkey on April 6-7.
Davutoglu’s holds a masters degree in Public Administration and a PhD degree in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici. His major academic work, “Strategic Depth,” advocates a foreign policy that seeks to revive Turkey’s Ottoman past by allowing it to play a more active role in the region.
According to Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign policy agenda requires an assertive approach to the region. He has been quoted as saying that Turkey has been perceived as having “strong muscles, a weak stomach, a troubled heart, and a mediocre brain.”
To rectify this, he has advocated a policy that sees Turkey creating strong economic ties beyond its borders. Transforming Turkey into a key strategic actor in the region this lies at the heart of his political vision.
Strategic importance, according to this policy, requires Turkey to become an energy hub, linking the West with the energy resources of the Middle East, Central Asia and the South Caucasus. Davutoglu hopes that by stressing Turkey’s strategic importance, Ankara will overcome the reluctance of EU leaders to accept Turkey into the EU and clear a path towards its membership in the bloc.
During his visit, Davutoglu said that “The U.S. and Turkey are at the historical moment that both countries have similar views at almost all issues.” He further stated that Turkey is becoming a strategic location for regional energy infrastructure and further suggested “from now on, everyone sees the strategic importance of Turkey that increases as the days pass.”