Turkey’s new party will be a mainstream one that will appeal to wide audiences, former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has said, as he commented on the ongoing efforts to found a new political party.
“It won’t appeal to a niche or narrow audience. We are not after any alliances or joint candidates. We want to be the political party that the people favor the most,” Babacan told broadcaster Habertürk on Nov. 26, adding that former president Abdullah Gül will not be a member of the party, but will act as an advisor.
“A party can’t be found for the candidacy of one person. Abdullah Gül can’t become the chief of the party someday. We agreed on this,” Babacan also said, while noting that they’re in contact with plenty of experienced politicians.
“We need to be open, honest and transparent towards our people. The people need experienced political figures. We are talking with plenty of names who know the past and appeal to the public,” he added.
Babacan on July 8 resigned from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), of which he was one of the founders, over “deep differences” and has been continuing efforts to establish a new political party.
He served as economy and then foreign minister before becoming deputy prime minister, a role he held from 2009 to 2015.
The name of Gül, who is also among the founders of the AKP, has been frequently mentioned with Babacan’s party.
‘Problems can’t be solved with the current administration’
“Our party aims to create a stance that various parts of the society agree on. It’s the design of a new Turkey that can be put in practice and that’s realistic,” Babacan said in the interview, adding that the party won’t consist of AKP supporters only.
Saying that they aim to establish the legal entity of the party by the end of 2019, Babacan noted that the problems in Turkey can’t be solved with the current administration, which he said was among the reasons behind his resignation.
“There were important principles and values during the foundation [of the AKP]. We cared about human rights. We were complaining about the malfunctioning of democracy. The AKP was born to revive these values,” Babacan said, adding that differences in the founding values and principles started to occur in 2011-2012.
“Superiority of law, human rights and democracy are universal principles. Erosion of these in time bothered all of us. We saw that it wasn’t going well,” he also said.
Turkey entered a ‘dark tunnel’
Noting that they struggled against these within the party until 2019, Babacan said that they felt a serious responsibility on their shoulders after the country entered a “dark tunnel.”
“Deviation took place in not only values, but also in principles. The problems in Turkey grew in all areas,” he added.
While citing economy, human rights, violations of the freedom of expression, democracy and intra-party democracy as examples to the country’s problems, Babacan said that the party cares about “common sense.”
“We care about common sense to prevent this from transforming into another one-man party,” he added.
During the interview, Babacan also commented on the 2017 referendum on a package of constitutional amendments that granted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sweeping powers.
“The voting was done under extraordinary circumstances. They weren’t discussed within the party and parliament in a comfortable manner. I was asked to participate in the campaigns back then, but I said, ‘I can’t defend this,'” he said.
“This presidential system started to be mentioned with the most important economic crisis of Turkey a short while later. Coalitions were said to be a thing of the past, but alliances are being formed before elections. The pledges of the presidential system were left fruitless,” Babacan added.
“We need to go back to square one in a number of issues in Turkey,” he said.
‘Parliament has lost its power’
Saying that a proper parliamentary system that has the separation of powers need to be returned to, Babacan noted that parliament has lost its power.
“A place that has powers as high as this need to have an effect this strong as well. Democracy needs to function with parliament that’s at the center of the system,” he said.
Commenting on the current situation of the economy, Babacan said that the economic programs fail to address the problems in the domestic market and to establish predictability.
“Investors are coming [to Turkey] for short terms, but not for long ones. Turkey needs to be foreseeable in order for the long term ones,” he also said.
Babacan was also asked about the reason for why he doesn’t found the party with former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who also resigned from the AKP.
“He offered to act together, but he started working way before us. He chose his provincial heads. Our methods are different. It’s very difficult for us to merge,” he said.
‘Turkey needs to establish dialogue with everyone’
Speaking about Turkey’s foreign policy, Babacan said that Turkey needs to have dialogue with everyone for its interests.
“There’s disintegration within NATO in the recent period. The U.S. perceives NATO differently. Europe wants to create its own order. Britain is in a Brexit process. European Union’s south and north are getting away from each other,” he said, adding that “things may turn into a different order.”
“Turkey’s domestic stability is very important for this reason. For its interest, Turkey needs to be able to talk with everyone,” Babacan also said.
When asked about the countries that Turkey needs to be allies with, Babacan said “We need to establish better relations with the countries that people are valued as individuals.”
“However, Turkey can also have good relations with the countries that lack democracy,” he added.
During the interview, Babacan refuted claims that he is a “man of the Western financial circles.”
“I was a minister responsible for relations with the European Union. We worked closely with the European institutions during that time. We had the goal of becoming a members of the EU. There’s nothing more normal than us having a relationship with the global financial circles,” he said.
There’s nothing notable in Babacan’s statements: AKP
AKP deputy leader Mahir Ünal, meanwhile, criticized Babacan’s remarks, saying that there wasn’t anything new and notable in his statements.
“As our president said, some people got off the train. We saw the arguments that they put forward,” Ünal told broadcaster NTV on Nov. 27.