TURKEY: PRIME MINISTER BULENT ECEVIT BRUSHES ASIDE CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS DURING INTERVIEWRecord ID: 639780
- Title: TURKEY: PRIME MINISTER BULENT ECEVIT BRUSHES ASIDE CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS DURING INTERVIEW
- Date: 19th July 2002
- Summary: SLV EXTERIOR MONEY EXCHANGE BUREAU; MV INTERIOR ACTIVITIES (8 SHOTS)
- Reuters ID: LVAB5KLRAVW6HVSCM82ENW00K7NI
- Location: ANKARA, TURKEY
- Country: Turkey
- Duration: 00:00:34
- Topics: General,Politics
- Story Text: Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit appointed a man with a hawkish reputation on Cyprus and the EU as his new foreign minister. Facing a mounting rebellion in his party and calls from his coalition partners to hold elections, he earlier said he still opposes early polls.
Ecevit came out fighting on Friday (July 12, 2002) as he faced a major challenge from a newly-declared centre-left bloc that staked its claim to power saying the premier was no longer able to govern.
Speaking in a television interview, the premier said his government would continue, brushing aside talk of early elections and insisting that his apparently divided coalition could reach agreement on the European Union.
"The 57th government had started very important reforms and successes. These were applied quickly, and there are more reforms needed to be implemented," he said.
Ismail Cem, who resigned as Turkey's foreign minister this week, said on Friday that he had agreed with two other prominent figures to form a new movement that would press for reforms that were needed for EU membership talks to begin.
Cem, explaining his resignation at a news conference, said the government of ailing Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit was no longer able to carry out the policies necessary to take the country forward.
He said he was forming a new movement with Economy Minister Kemal Dervis and Husamettin Ozkan, who resigned from Ecevit's government and party this week.
"We have taken the decision of starting a new movement with our deputy friends and especially with Mr. Husamettin Ozkan and Mr. Dervis," Cem said.
Dervis, the architect of Turkey's multi-billion IMF rescue programme, caused shock in the markets on Thursday by first resigning, and then within hours withdrawing his resignation at the request of the president and prime minister.
The lira had fallen on rumours of his resignation, forcing the Central Bank to intervene to support it.
"(The aim is) to make Turkey an attraction, an investment centre in Europe and in the world. The level we reached with relations with the EU (European Union) is to begin membership discussions. Turkey should not miss this opportunity, we are determined to make the necessary steps. The most important element of the party and political power is to realise Turkey's membership in the EU," Cem said.
The EU sees a unification settlement on Cyprus as a vital prerequisite for Turkey's entry into membership talks.
Negotiations have been proceeding on the east Mediterranean island since January but appear at the moment to be deadlocked.
Later in ther day Ecevit said in a live television interview that he was appointing deputy premier Sukru Sina Gurel to replace Ismail Cem.
Gurel has made speeches highly critical of the EU's handling of Turkey's candidacy.
But in an interview with Reuters on Friday he said there would be no change in Turkey's foreign policy. He said that the process of Turkey's EU candidacy, has never been tied to finding a solution on Cyprus.
Turkey has been recognised as a candidate for membership since 1999, but has yet to start accession negotiations because of EU concerns over its human rights record.
Ecevit, ill for the last two months as frictions have grown in his three-party coalition, has made it clear he has no plans to step down, though earlier this week he did appear to be moving towards accepting calls for early polls in November.
"I am still on duty and staying at my position. I have to stay because there is no time to realise other developments,"
Ecevit's partners in the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) have made clear they oppose easing restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language and abolishing the death penalty, among the reforms the EU seeks, and have called for elections in November.
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