Ahmet Davutoğlu

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Ahmet Davutoğlu
Ahmet Davutoğlu answering questions (4774547672) (cropped).jpg
Prime Minister of Turkey
Assumed office
28 August 2014
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Deputy Yalçın Akdoğan
Bülent Arınç
Ali Babacan
Numan Kurtulmuş
Preceded by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Leader of the Justice and Development Party
Assumed office
27 August 2014
Preceded by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
1 May 2009 – 28 August 2014
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Preceded by Ali Babacan
Succeeded by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Member of the Grand National Assembly
Assumed office
12 June 2011
Constituency Konya (2011, 2015)
Majority 657,763 (56.5%)
Personal details
Born (1959-02-26) 26 February 1959 (age 56)
Konya, Turkey
Political party Justice and Development Party
Spouse(s) Sare Davutoğlu (1984–present)
Children Sefure
Hacer Bike
Alma mater Boğaziçi University
Religion Sunni Islam

Ahmet Davutoğlu (Turkish pronunciation: [ah'met da'wutoːɫu]; born 26 February 1959) is a Turkish diplomat and politician who has been the Prime Minister of Turkey since 28 August 2014 and the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 27 August 2014. He previously served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2014, pursuing a policy of expanding Turkey's regional influence in former Ottoman territories and rebuilding relations with Israel after the 2009 Gaza flotilla raid on the MV Mavi Marmara.[1] Prior to becoming Foreign Minister, Davutoğlu served as chief advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and became an AKP Member of Parliament for Konya in the 2011 general election. He is also a political scientist, an academic, and an ambassador at large.

Following the election of serving Prime Minister and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the 12th President of Turkey, Davutoğlu was announced by the AKP Central Executive Committee as a candidate for the party leadership.[2][3] He was unanimously elected as leader unopposed during the first AKP extraordinary congress and consequently succeed Erdoğan as Prime Minister, forming the 62nd Government of the Turkish Republic.[4][5] His cabinet has been dominated by Erdoğan's close allies such as Yalçın Akdoğan, leading to speculation that he will take a docile approach as Prime Minister while Erdoğan continues to pursue his political agenda as President.[6][7]

Domestically, Davutoğlu has heavily criticised the 2013-14 anti-government protests.[8] He has blamed the 2013 government corruption scandal on a "parallel state" formed by supporters of Fethullah Gülen that occupy senior bureaucratic and judicial positions, which he has vowed to fight and dismantle as Prime Minister.[9][10] Despite pursuing a Neo-Ottoman or Pan-Islamist foreign policy, Davutoğlu has made Turkey's ascension bid to the European Union a strategic target for his government.[11][12] He has also pledged to reform the constitution, tackle corruption and improve Turkey's workers' rights record.[13][14][15] His internationally criticised policy of inaction towards Islamic State militants in neighbouring Iraq and Syria resulted in deadly anti-government protests in October 2014 which left over 40 people dead, as well as the near-dissolution of the solution process with Kurdish rebels.[16][17][18][19] Relations with the United States have consequently faltered and Turkey failed to win a seat in the United Nations Security Council.[20][21] In response to government proposals to enact new security measures to curb protests, Davutoğlu has been accused of turning Turkey into a police state.[22]

Life and early career[edit]

Ahmet Davutoğlu was born in Taşkent, Konya Province, Turkey. He graduated from İstanbul Erkek Lisesi, which is a Deutsche Auslandsschule (German International school) and studied at the Department of Economics and Political Science of the Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. He holds a Master's degree in Public Administration and a PhD degree in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi University. Between 1993 and 1999, Davutoğlu worked at Marmara University and became a full professor in 1999. He was the Chairman of the Department of International Relations at Beykent University in Istanbul, Turkey. Between 1995 and 1999, he wrote weekly columns for Turkish daily Yeni Şafak.

Davutoğlu at the 50th Munich Security Conference in 2014

Davutoğlu was granted a title of ambassador in 2003 by the joint decision of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Abdullah Gül.[23]

He is married to Sare Davutoğlu since 1984, who is a gynecologist working in İstanbul and a vocal anti-abortion campaigner.[24] They have one son and three daughters.

His publications include Alternative Paradigms: The Impact of Islamic and Western Weltanschauungs on Political Theory, The Civilizational Transformation and The Muslim World in English, Stratejik Derinlik (Strategic Depth), and Küresel Bunalım (The Global Crisis) in Turkish. His book Strategic Depth is a very influential book in Turkey's foreign policy orientation, even becoming a bestseller in Greece in July 2010.[25] He is very influential in the military, academic, and government triangle shaping Turkish foreign policy.[26] He speaks English, German, Arabic and Malay.

His surname, Davutoğlu, translates to 'Davidson' in English.

Foreign policy ideals[edit]

Davutoğlu (third left) at the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation Conference in 2011

From his articles for Yeni Şafak and book Stratejik Derinlik, academics and politicians have put forward the view that Davutoğlu's foreign policy vision rests on rebuilding and maintaining closer relations with former territories of the Ottoman Empire through a policy known as Neo-Ottomanism.[27] Another theory developed by Davutoğlu's former student Behlül Özkan is that Davutoğlu has a Pan-Islamist foreign policy ideal, in which he sees Islam as a unifying factor within the Middle East.[28] In contrast to both these theories, Davutoğlu has also in the past also advocated a pro-western policy as a NATO member by expressing support for European Union membership.[29]


Main article: Neo-Ottomanism

Davutoğlu has called for Turkey to become more than just a regional power within Europe and the Middle East and expressed a desire for Ankara to have a far more influential role in world politics.[30] Davutoğlu is generally linked to the notion of Turkish neo-Ottomanism, which favours a commonwealth with its neighbours and old Ottoman connections.[31] Although his foreign policies have been regarded as neo-Ottomanist by Western and especially U.S. media, Davutoğlu does not accept such a characterization. He stated in an interview with Turkish daily Sabah that "as much as we don't use this conceptualization, the fact that it is being used against us is either because of misunderstanding or lack of goodwill." He argued against the idea that Turkey is trying to establish a neo-Ottoman imperial order: "I have said that Turkey as a nation-state is equal with any other nation-state of our region whether it is small in population or area. We don't have any hegemony on anyone. Rather what we are trying to do is to contribute to the establishment of a permanent peace in our region. If by order they mean is Pax Ottomana, Pax in the meaning of order, we are trying to establish a order, it is not wrong to say such thing."[32] In 2013, Davutoğlu spoke of developing a closer union between former Ottoman lands, though stated that territorial claims would never rest on historical borders.[27]


Main article: Pan-Islamism
Davutoğlu (C) at the Chatham House International Roundtable, İstanbul, September 2012 with Suzan Sabancı Dinçer (L) and Dr Robin Niblett (R)

According to Behlül Özkan, who was lectured by Ahmet Davutoğlu in 1998 at Marmara University and currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the same university, Davutoğlu has pan-Islamic notions rather than neo-Ottoman. Özkan wrote an article for the "Survival", a scholarly international studies journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, that he had reached his conclusion by researching approximately 300 articles Davutoğlu wrote between 1990 and 2000.[28] The notion of pan-Islamism is critical of Turkey's attempts to integrate with western nations, and advocates a union within the Middle East in order to increase regional strength and unity between peoples. Due to the several different cultures and races which inhabit the Middle East today, pan-Islamists believe that only Islam can provide a strong and long-lasting union between peoples, since they only share Islam in common. Since Davutoğlu is a Sunni Muslim, Özkan stated that Iran is not part of Davutoğlu's plans for a united Middle East.[28][33]

Davutoğlu arguably observes parallel manners between Turgut Özal and Abdul Hamid II. According to Özkan, he criticizes Özal because of his pro-West notions and supports the pan-Islamic trend of Abdul Hamid II's tenure. Özkan claims that there might be a misreading in Davutoğlu's perspective: The pan-Islamic trend of Abdul Hamid II was defensive because he was struggling to protect the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. However, Davutoğlu can be said to have not defensive but expansionist pan-Islamic notions, as shown by his statements about the Syrian Civil War.[28] Özkan also stated that Davutoğlu does not believe in the European Union and instead wants an Islamic Union.[34]

Relations with the Muslim Brotherhood[edit]

Davutoğlu's foreign policy has also been referred to as a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired transnationalism, for example by Republican People's Party MP Aykut Erdemir.[35] Since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-supported President of Egypt Mohamed Mursi in 2013, Turkey has been seen as the Brotherhood's last friendly country within the region. The advocation of Islamic democracy by the Brotherhood as well as the AKP provides a means of Davutoğlu to expand Turkey's regional influence using Islam as a common heritage that unites Middle-Eastern nations together. Turkish business opportunities for Brotherhood officials, as well as alleged funding and supplies of arms have been documented and have come to light primarily after the arrest of a Turkish intelligence officer, Irshad Hoz, in Egypt.[36] Istanbul hosted two meetings of the Muslim Brotherhood after the 2013 Egyptian military coup, for which Davutoğlu faced criticism for hosting since it would damage ties with the new regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Qatar expelled leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014, leaving Turkey as the organisation's only major supporter. The expulsion caused speculation as to whether Davutoğlu's government would offer them asylum.[37][38]

Minister of Foreign Affairs (2009-2014)[edit]

Davutoğlu with former British Foreign Secretary William Hague during a joint press conference, 2010

Davutoğlu was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2009 despite not being a Member of Parliament. He entered the Grand National Assembly as an MP for Konya in the 2011 general election and continued serving as Foreign Minister in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's third cabinet.

He was listed in Foreign Policy magazine as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010" for "being the brains behind Turkey's global reawakening."[39] In an interview, he talked about his "Zero Problems Policy" and said that "it is possible to have zero problems if the other actors respect our values. It doesn't mean that we will be silent in order to have good relations with all parties."[40] In 2011's Foreign Policy magazine's list of "Top 100 Global Thinkers" he was listed together with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for "imagining a new role for Turkey in the world- and making it happen.[41]

On 30 March 2012, Davutoğlu met with Bechara Boutros al-Rahi of Lebanon and said that they should meet occasionally during this century.[42]

In 2010, Davutoğlu set out four pillars upon which his foreign policy rests. The first is the indivisibility of security, the second is dialogue, the third is economic interdependence and the fourth is cultural harmony and mutual respect. He claimed that the goal of his policy was to integrate different nations and develop cultural understanding between different faiths and races, as well as maintaining co-operative relations and peaceful dialogue in order to solve crises when they arise.[43]

Davutoğlu with Frans Timmermans, the former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands in 2013

Latter analyses of Davutoğlu term as foreign minister in 2013 and 2014 have been significantly more negative and critical.[44] His failures are mostly associated with Turkey's policy on the Syrian Civil War, attempts to increase political influence over former Ottoman states and his controversial stance against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who took power in 2013.[45] Most criticism has been directed to Turkey's foreign policy on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its refusal to help Kurdish fighters take back the town of Kobani in 2014.[46] This, as well as the AKP's continued funding of Hamas, has led to souring relations between Turkey and the United States, as well as other nations in the region. In July 2014, an opinion poll placed support for Davutoğlu's foreign policy at 28.0, compared to a 57.7% disapproval rating.[47] Two other polls in late 2014 show disapproval of Davutoğlu's policy on Syria to be above two-thirds of the electorate.[48][49]


On April 24, 2014 he and Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement in nine languages including Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian where they agreed that the 1915 Armenian deportations were inhumane. They also agreed that these events should be studied by both Turkish, Armenian, and foreign historians. Nevertheless, they didn't recognize the Armenian Genocide.[50]

After Pope Francis has spoken that the Armenian genocide was one of the three major genocides in the 20th century, on 16 April 2015 Davutoğlu said that the Pope joined the "evil front" and the conspiracy against the Justice and Development Party.[51]


Davutoğlu alongside Erdoğan at the opening of a Yunus Emre cultural centre in Cairo, 2011

Davutoğlu precided over a significant improvement in relations with Egypt following the election of Muhammad Mursi as President in 2012, followed by a sudden deterioration shortly after his deposition in 2013. As one of the closest backers of the Muslim Brotherhood, Davutoğlu's relations with Mursi's government involved a Turkish offer of assistance in order to draft a secular constitution. This offer, which some viewed as an attempt by Davutoğlu to increase Turkish influence in Egypt, was rejected by Mursi's government who instead opted for a more Islamist constitution instead. Regardless, both Davutoğlu and Erdoğan strongly criticised the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état that ousted Mursi and the Grand National Assembly passed a cross-party motion of condemnation.[52]

Davutoğlu claimed that intense diplomatic traffic between Ankara and Cairo took place before the coup where an eight-point plan had been agreed. However, he stated after the coup that the first action of the new administration should be allowing Morsi to resume active participation in politics. Davutoğlu also compared Morsi's overthrow to the Turkish coups in 1960 and 1980.[53] Davutoğlu also criticised the judicial decision to sentence 529 Muslim Brotherhood members to death, adding that the Egyptian government was anti-democratic and acting illegally. Relations subsequently soured, with Egypt expelling the Turkish ambassador while Erdoğan declared the Egyptian ambassador persona non grata in retaliation. The Egyptian government also demanded an apology from the AKP for the comments and refused to invite Turkey to an Islamic Conference held in Cairo due to the worsening relations.[54] Following the release of Hosni Mubarak, Davutoğlu claimed that his release at a time while Mubarak was still imprisoned worsened the situation that could involve into a crisis similar to that in Syria.[55] After being ousted from Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood have also held two conferences at Istanbul to debate the coup and their response to it.

The AKP government's stance and President Erdoğan's remarks on Egypt have resulted in Davutoğlu's government being criticised strongly overseas, being blamed by the United Arab Emirates for 'irresponsible and blatant interference in the internal affairs' of Egypt. Critics have argued that the AKP's stance on Egypt is a threat to Davutoğlu's policy of expanding turkey's regional influence throughout the Middle East.[56][57]

European Union[edit]

Davutoğlu visiting Western Thrace in 2011

Despite being alleged to have Pan-Islamist foreign policy ideals, Davutoğlu has voiced a degree of support for Turkey's membership of the European Union. Despite this, talks froze due to Turkey's policy on Cyprus in mid 2012 after The Republic of Cyprus assumed the rotating EU presidency, with Davutoğlu claiming that Turkey would never beg for EU membership.[58] The bulk of Turkish-EU relations are handled by the Ministry of European Union Affairs, led by Ministers Egemen Bağış until 2013 and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu between 2013 and 2014.

In the 51st Association Council meeting in Brussels held in May 2013, Davutoğlu claimed that Turkey had aimed for membership for 50 years and would continue to do so. He further stated that the international community needed to see Turkey as an EU member, but also said that it was unacceptable for Turkish citizens to be denied the right to free movement within Europe.[59] With the Gezi Park protests beginning a few days later and the Turkish government facing criticism from EU leaders due to a heavy handed police crackdown on protesters, talks stalled even further.[60][61]

In an article regarding Turkish foreign policy and the EU, Davutoğlu has claimed that Turkey's membership of the EU can allow it to develop stronger ties in the Balkan and Mediterranean regions and also help eliminate poverty in North Africa by using its influence in both the EU and the Islamic world. He has stated that with a multicultural identity and a diverse history, Turkey has a natural responsibility to bring about peace and stability within the world. Since Turkey already has close economic and diplomatic relations with EU member states, Davutoğlu has emphasised that full EU membership would benefit both Turkey and all other member states with added security and trade. Furthermore, Davutoğlu has also advocated that a united Europe with Turkey as a member would be fit to fight terrorism and other threats to democracy and human rights. Despite this, he has criticised the political obstacles in the path of Turkey's ascension which are in "stark contrast" with negotiation terms.

Greece and Cyprus[edit]

Davutoğlu meets with former Greek Foreign Minister Dimitrios Droutsas

In June 2012, Davutoğlu accused the Greek government of not respecting the rights of Turkish minorities, especially in Western Thrace. He further stressed that the alleged withdrawal of Greek citizenships from Turkish minority citizens was against the Treaty of Lausanne.[62]

In 2013, Davutoğlu brought a possible two-state solution of the Cyprus dispute to Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos after controversy erupted over the ownership of offshore oil reserves. The prospect was swiftly disregarded by the Greek foreign ministry.[63] Davutoğlu also claimed that negotiations to resolve the dispute would accelerate under the leadership of Nikos Anastasiadis, who had supported the Annan Plan and had voted yes in the 2004 Annan Plan referendum. This, according to Davutoğlu, was in stark contrast to former Republic of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, who had voted against. Davutoğlu has also expressed that any new possible solution does not need to be based on the Annan Plan.[64][65]

On the issue of turning Hagia Sofia into a mosque, Davutoğlu has stated that all international laws on such issues would be obeyed.[66][67] He has also called the Greek government to respect the religious freedoms of Muslims within Greece, which he alleged to be under threat from legislation such as the "240 Imam Act". He claimed that the Greek government should refrain from interfering in religious affairs.[64]

In May 2014, Davutoğlu stated that Turkey would not pay compensation of €90 million to the Republic of Cyprus for the damages dating back to the 1974 Cyprus invasion despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In a statement, Davutoğlu claimed that the Foreign Ministry saw no need to obey a court ruling which was directed at an entity not recognised by the Republic of Turkey. He also criticised the ECHR ruling, and claimed that it contained errors and inconsistencies. Adding that obeying the ruling was impractical, Davutoğlu stated that the ruling of the court was a substantial blow against achieving a resolution to the Cyprus Dispute. The government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus supported Davutoğlu's position, arguing that the court ruling was simply made to please Greece and Greek Cypriots.[68]


Davutoğlu with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Ankara

As the Foreign Minister of a Sunni-majority country, Davutoğlu has voiced concerns over Iran's nuclear program. Regardless, his foreign policy has been to develop relations with Iran, since Iran is Turkey's second biggest supplier of oil after Russia.[69] In contrast to Turkey's western allies, Davutoğlu stated that there was no plan to place an embargo on Iranian oil, and claimed that sanctions against Iran had also damaged Turkey.[70][71] Davutoğlu has stated that his vision for Turkey is for the country to become an "energy corridor" for eastern oil.[72] His stance has been at odds with other cabinet ministers such as Energy minister Taner Yıldız, who has sought to buying more oil from Libya in order to comply with United Nations sanctions against Iran.[73]

After a temporary deal on Iran's nuclear programme was reached in Geneva, Davutoğlu congratulated Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the achievement and stated that the withdrawal of sanctions would benefit both Turkey and Iran. He further stated that Turkey would not want to see the spread of nuclear arms throughout the region.[74]

Friction developed between the two countries after Turkey decided to host a NATO missile defence system against Bashar Al Assad's Syrian forces in 2012.[75] As a supporter of Assad's regime, Iran's foreign policy has been at odds with Davutoğlu's criticism of Assad.[76] Relations in regards to Syria improved in 2013, with Davutoğlu and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jointly calling for a ceasefire ahead of the January 2014 Geneva peace talks.[77] In late 2013, Davutoğlu stated that both Turkey and Iran were united for regional stability.[78]

Iraq and IS[edit]

Ahmet Davutoğlu with John Kerry and other Foreign Ministers at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum

Davutoğlu has claimed that the Turkish policy against the Islamic State (IS) has been to try and prevent sectarian violence at all costs by reaching out to both Sunni and Shi'ite communities.[79] In August 2014, Davutoğlu stated that he held Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki as responsible for the escalating violence within Iraq, and criticised his refusal to step down.[80] After security forces surrounded Iraqi President Fouad Masoum's presidential palace on 10 August, Davutoğlu claimed that he had "worked all night" to avert any coup attempts and issued a statement of support for President Masoum.[81][82] Davutoğlu has also voiced concern on the impact that the growing unrest has had on Iraq's Turkmen and Yazidi minorities.[83]

Davutoğlu's policy on IS has drawn fierce criticism and concern from both the Turkish political opposition and the international community for inactivity, incorrect speculation and even alleged funding.[84][85][86] In a statement on 7 August 2014, Davutoğlu responded to these claims by stating that "anyone who claims that IS receives support from Turkey is treacherous."[18] Several news agencies reported that the statement had defended ISIS against accusations of terrorism and had blamed Syria and Iraq for the violence instead.[87][88] Davutoğlu also stated that Turkey is the biggest contributor of humanitarian aid in Iraq.[89] In early 2014, Turkey had destroyed an ISIS convoy in an attempt to respond to their growing influence in Syria.[90]

Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government[edit]

Relations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq strengthened with the ceasefire with PKK rebels. In 2014, Davutoğlu visited northern Iraq and met regional President Massoud Barzani multiple times, stating that Turkey sought closer ties with the KRG in terms of diplomatic relations as well as oil trade.[91] He further stated that no hostilities remained between Turkey and the KRG due to the PKK ceasefire.[92] Talks between Barzani also involved the ISIS related developments in Iraq.[93]

Israel and Gaza[edit]

Before becoming Foreign Minister, Davutoğlu was one of the leading actors on behalf of the Turkish government during the shuttle diplomacy for the settlement of 2008 Israel–Gaza conflict.

Davutoğlu (left) with US Secretary of State John Kerry (centre) and Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah (right) discussing Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal (Paris, 2014)

Following the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010, Davutoğlu put forward three conditions for the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Israel. He stated that the State of Israel should issue an apology for the incident and pay compensation, and also lift the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Davutoğlu managed to secure an apology in March 2013, and compensation deals were finalised in 2014. He further stated that the political unrest in Egypt had delayed the lifting of the naval blockade.[94] In February 2014, Davutoğlu claimed that Turkish-Israeli relations were closer to normalisation than ever, and that the strengthening of Palestine will help increase the influence of Turkey in the Middle East.[95] His remarks were criticised by lawyers for allegedly interfering with the cases against the Israeli soldiers who were involved in the Mavi Marmara incident.[96]

At an Ankara conference in May 2014, Davutoğlu claimed that the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem caused suffering to citizens, and that it was a moral obligation to protect the city's culture and Islamic identity.[97]

With Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan taking a strong anti-Israel stance during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, Davutoğlu pursued a policy of active participation, providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza.[98] Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated significantly, with Israel withdrawing diplomatic staff from Turkey due to safety fears, just a few months after announcing that staff numbers would increase back to normal levels.[99] On July 26, Davutoğlu met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah in Paris in an unsuccessful attempt to draft a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.[100]

Libyan Civil War[edit]

Davutoğlu at the London Conference on Libya, March 2011

Davutoğlu took a humanitarian approach in an attempt to end the suffering of Libyan civilians during the Civil War. In a 2011 conference on Libya, Davutoğlu stated that ending civilian suffering should be a greater priority than toppling Muammar Gaddafi from power, stating that NATO should play a more active role in pressuring Gaddafi to respect the rights of Libyan citizens.[101] However, he warned against full military intervention, stating that the situation should not turn into a war effort similar to those in Iraq or Afghanistan.[102] In April, Davutoğlu stated that the Turkish government had cut its diplomatic ties with Gaddafi's regime and instead recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya and pledged greater financial aid to the rebels.[103] In May 2011, Davutoğlu met with rebel leaders and voiced concerns on the threats to civilians, arguing that a peaceful transition of power could be achieved if Gaddafi and his family stepped aside.[104]

Russia and Crimea[edit]

Before becoming Foreign Minister, Davutoğlu stated that Turkey would not pay the price of either Russian or Georgian strategic failures during the Russo-Georgian War in 2008. Upon being asked whether Turkey would have to make a choice between either country, he stated that as a member of NATO and an EU candidate country, Turkey had already made its choice. However, he also emphasised that Turkey did not have the luxury of isolating Russia.[29]

Davutoğlu at the annual meeting of the Turkish-Russian High-Level Co-operation Council in 2012

While Turkey has overall maintained good relations with Russia, Davutoğlu has been influential in maintaining ties between the two countries which held differing views during the annexation of Crimea and the Syrian Civil War. Relations with Russia are also economically significant due to Turkish imports of natural gas. The two countries launched the High-Level Cooperation Council in 2010 which meets annually to review relations. The Joint Strategic Planning Group Meeting Protocol, which formed a part of the Co-operation Council, was signed in 2011. When the Turkish AKP government fell out with Fethullah Gülen in late 2013, Davutoğlu was able to find further common ground with Russia, which viewed Gülen and his Cemaat movement extremely negatively.[105]

Economic relations improved with a Russian offer for Turkey to participate in the South Stream gas pipeline project, which will run through Turkish waters.[106] Davutoğlu has stated that Turkey is eager to enhance economic co-operation with Russia.[107] The issues of Syria and Crimea were discussed during a Joint Strategic Planning Group Meeting in May 2014.[108] A new project to establish a joint investment bank between the two countries in order to fund joint projects and improve economic relations through the use of local currencies was also likely discussed. The bank would also serve to address the lack of financial resources which have placed the two nations' ongoing joint investments at risk.[109]

Davutoğlu and Erdoğan with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010

With Turkey taking a pro-opposition stance throughout the Syrian Civil War in contrast to Russia's support of Bashar Al Assad, Davutoğlu has been at odds with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Despite this, Davutoğlu has stated that actions taken by Turkey against Syria, such as the forcing the landing of a Syrian jet in 2012, would not damage relations.[110] In 2013, the two sides still failed to agree on the fate of Syria, yet both emphasised that they would formulate a strategic plan to bring peace and stability throughout the region.[111] Davutoğlu also supported Russia's call for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons instead of risking foreign military intervention.[112] In May 2014, he raised concerns regarding the Syrian presidential election with Russia.[113] Davutoğlu has supported the need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine and Crimea through diplomatic negotiations, and has raised concern over the treatments of Crimean Tatars by Russian armed forces.[114] He also called for the Russians to lift the ban on Tatar leader and Ukrainian Member of Parliament Mustafa Dzhemilev's entrance to Crimea, the respect for international law and the union of Ukraine.[115] Davutoğlu has stated that Turkey would not recognise the result of the status referendum in Crimea.[116] In March 2014, Davutoğlu accepted nearly 50 representatives from various Crimea charities from throughout Turkey, as well as from the Crimean Tatar Charity Federation. He stated that Tatars were going through a "test," in which everything must be done to insure that they are able to return to their "homeland." He stated that Turkey would always side with Turkish Crimeans in any situation.[117] He later also claimed that the future of Turkish Crimeans was the most important problem for the country and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was doing all it could to prevent the situation from destabilising any further.[118] Earlier in February, he claimed that all problems could be solved if Crimea remained within Ukraine.[119]


Davutoğlu at the London conference on Somalia in 2013

Davutoğlu has played a leading role in the Turkish government's close bilateral ties with the Federal Government of Somalia.[120] Following a greatly improved security situation in Mogadishu in mid-2011, the Turkish government re-opened its foreign embassy with the intention of more effectively assisting in the post-conflict development process.[121] It was among the first foreign administrations to resume formal diplomatic relations with Somalia after the civil war.[122] Davutoğlu further encouraged other nations to follow suit and re-open their own embassies in the country, welcoming in that regard the new British embassy in Mogadishu.[120]

Development cooperation between Turkey and Somalia is multi-tiered, and includes military, social, economic and infrastructural partnerships.[122][123] In May 2010, the Turkish and Somali governments signed a military training agreement, in keeping with the provisions outlined in the Djibouti Peace Process.[124] Enforcement of the pact officially began in November 2012.[123]

Following the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in 2012 and the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President, the Turkish authorities re-affirmed Turkey's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.[125] In May 2013, Davutoğlu was also among the participants at the Somalia Conference in London co-chaired by President Mohamud.[126] Davutoğlu therein emphasized the importance of supporting Mohamud's Six-Pillar Policy for Somalia. Additionally, he brokered national reconciliation talks in Ankara between the Somali federal government and the Somaliland regional administration in northwestern Somalia. In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, Davutoğlu indicated that the Turkish government's chief priority was in assisting the Somali federal government to consolidate its authority. He also reaffirmed Turkey's commitment to Somalia's territorial integrity and political sovereignty.[120]

Syrian Civil War[edit]

Davutoğlu with John Kerry and Syrian Opposition Council Chairman Moaz al-Khatib in İstanbul, May 2013

The Turkish government adopted a policy of strong opposition against Bashar Al Assad in the Syrian Civil War.[127] Davutoğlu has supported the need to strengthen the rebels against Assad's regime, though his stance was complicated by the growing influence of Al-Qaeda related militant action within Syria as the civil war progressed.

In September 2012, Davutoğlu called for the establishment of "safe zones" in northern Syria to accommodate refugees and reduce the number of civilian casualties. He warned that continued global inactivity in regards to Syria will lead to failure "like Bosnia" in response to the United Nations General Assembly's failure to reach consensus.[128]

In a conference of Syria-bordering countries hosted in Jordan, Davutoğlu stated in May 2014 that Turkey had spent US$3 billion on maintaining refugee camps, and that the United Nations needed to do more to finance their upkeeping. In the same conference, he claimed that "the world has failed Syria."[129] Davutoğlu has pledged to support the United States should they authorise military action within Syria. Losing confidence in the United Nations Security Council, Davutoğlu has not ruled out a military option to resolving the crisis. The political opposition within Turkey has strongly criticised Davutoğlu's policy on Syria, claiming that it was responsible for the 2013 Reyhanlı bombings.[130]

On 23 March 2014, a Syrian fighter jet was shot down by the Turkish Armed Forces. Davutoğlu claimed that the jet had violated Turkish airspace, whereas this allegation was denied by the Syrian authorities. The incident occurred 7 days before local elections, and Davutoğlu claimed that anyone who thought that the downing of the jet was an election ploy was "evil minded."[131] He also stated that Turkey would not accept the 2014 Syrian presidential election as legitimate.[132]

Domestic views[edit]

Davutoğlu meeting with Giorgio Napolitano, the 11th President of Italy

Despite serving as Foreign Minister, Davutoğlu maintained an active and influential role in shaping domestic policy, especially in response to the 2013–14 protests in Turkey and the 2013 government corruption scandal. His strong support for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during such events has been seen as a key reason for his eventual nomination to succeed Erdoğan as leader of the AKP in August 2014.[133] He came under scrutiny after the August 10 presidential election after it was revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had initially devised the highly unsuccessful appointment system for overseas voters.[134]

Reyhanlı bombings[edit]

Main article: Reyhanlı bombings

In response to an attack on the district of Reyhanlı in Hatay that killed 52 people, Davutoğlu stated that the killers were "known" and had been caught by the government, warning that no-one should attempt to cover up the suspects.[135] He also stated that suspicion of the Syrian opposition and their possible involvement should be avoided, and that violent groups had no place in the Syrian peace process.[136] Davutoğlu was criticised for allegedly smiling whilst delivering his statement.[137]

2013-14 anti-government protests[edit]

Davutoğlu has been a heavy critic of both the aims and the conduct of the anti-government protests which began in late May 2013. Claiming that it was a critical event in Turkish politics, he criticised both the national and international media for their alleged support for the protests. He further claimed that in any European capital, a demonstration at a central square such as Taksim would be forced to disband within 18 days of protest. In response to the claim that protesters assaulted a woman wearing a headscarf which was later proved to be fabricated, Davutoğlu claimed that the victim was the wife of one of his close students.[138] It had initially been rumoured that Davutoğlu had said "I am honoured by Gezi [protests]," though he himself later denied these rumours.[139]

In an article written for The Guardian, Davutoğlu defended the allegedly brutal police crackdown on protesters by claiming that the initially democratic demonstrations had been hijacked by militant groups. He also argued that his party was using undemocratic methods to pursue its agenda.[140] Furthermore, he stated that the government was not polarising the nation despite allegations to the contrary, but instead separating marginal groups with militant aims from democratic protests in an attempt to maintain the rule of law.[141]

2013 corruption scandal[edit]

Davutoğlu has spoken out strongly against political corruption and has denied that any form of it has occurred during the AKP government. He has stated that his party would "break the hand of anyone who tries to steal what belongs to the Turkish people, even if it is the hand of our brother." He has also claimed that the AKP has been the strongest force in tackling corruption.[142] He had once stated that corruption is "the biggest crime."[143]

In response to the 17 December 2013 corruption scandal, Davutoğlu claimed that it was simply a transition from one era to another and that the scandal would not be remembered in 30 years time.[144] He further claimed that his party would not yield or slow down in bringing about reforms that had been planned. Remaining loyal with Prime Minister Erdoğan, Davutoğlu claimed that the Prime Minister himself was the ultimate target of the scandal which had been sparked by followers of Fethullah Gulen's Cemaat Movement.[145]

2014 Soma mining disaster[edit]

Main article: Soma mine disaster

Following an explosion in the Soma coal mine on 13 May which killed 301 miners, Davutoğlu declined all international offers for assistance. While thanking the nations for their offers to help, Davutoğlu stated that Turkish rescue workers would be able to respond to the disaster without foreign aid or help. On the subject of Israel offering aid despite diplomatic rifts between the two countries due to the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, Davutoğlu stated that the Turkish government would always receive offers of humanitarian assistance from any country in a positive manner regardless of any diplomatic situation.[146]

Speaking from the Turkish Embassy in London during the Friends of Syria Group Conference, Davutoğlu offered his condolences and claimed that Turkey had been through similar "tests" before, such as during earthquakes.[147]

In an interview with CNN, he stated that everything would be done to discover the causes of the accident. In response to Prime Minister Erdoğan's highly criticized statement in which he gave several examples from the past of other mining disasters in other countries as a justification for the accident, Davutoğlu defended the Prime Minister by stating that mining disasters were challenges that all other countries had to face. Unlike in the 2013-14 anti-government protests, Davutoğlu stated that he would respect protests as a result of the disaster and claimed that both he and Erdoğan understood the pain of the people in such emotional times.[148]

Premiership (2014-present)[edit]

Ahmet Davutoğlu became the 26th Prime Minister of Turkey on 28 August 2014 after his predecessor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected as the 12th President of Turkey. He currently leads the 62nd government of Turkey. His initial nomination to lead the AKP on 21 August was welcomed by Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who claimed that Davutoğlu was a very easy person to maintain dialogue with.[149]

Davutoğlu has often been referred to as 'Erdoğan's Yıldırım Akbulut' due to the similar circumstances of his ascension to the Prime Minister's Office with that of Yıldırım Akbulut in 1989.[150][151] Akbulut became Prime Minister after his predecessor, Turgut Özal was elected President. This bears similarity to Davutoğlu becoming prime Minister due to his predecessor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's election as President. In addition, Akbulut is widely perceived to have taken a docile approach during his time in office while President Özal took key political decisions despite occupying a mostly ceremonial office. This too, is claimed to bear similarity to Erdoğan's statements about his continued involvement in political affairs despite his ceremonial position, with Davutoğlu leading a submissive premiership.

Election as AKP leader[edit]

Davutoğlu presenting an artwork by Mustafa Cemil Efe as a parting gift to outgoing AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the AKP congress

Upon the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as President, the leadership of the AKP became vacant for the first time in the party's history. In a meeting chaired by Erdoğan that lasted three hours, Davutoğlu was put forward by the AKP Central Executive Board (MYK) as a candidate for the leadership on 21 August 2014.[152] He was unanimously elected unopposed as party leader in the party's first extraordinary congress on 27 August, taking 1,382 votes.[5] He thus formed his government on the 28th while Erdoğan took over as President.[153] No other candidate has voiced opposition or has declared intention to run for the party leadership as a rival.[154]

The AKP MYK's proposal to elect Davutoğlu as party leader has been attributed to several factors. Davutoğlu strongly supported Prime Minister Erdoğan during the 2013-14 anti-government protests and the 17 December government corruption scandal, and was thus seen as a close ally and partner that could work in harmony with Erdoğan after the latter became President.[155] Davutoğlu's loyalty and similar foreign policy ideals to Erdoğan, as well as his active involvement in situations such as the Gaza conflict and the Syrian Civil War has resulted in strong support from AK Party members and supporters.[156] Critics of the AK Party have put forward the view that Davutoğlu's loyalty to Erdoğan will allow Erdoğan as President to continue pursuing his agenda and controlling the government, through the use of the President's rarely used cabinet-calling powers, while Davutoğlu himself takes a docile approach.[7][157][158][159]

In contrast, it has also been alleged that Davutoğlu would not take a docile approach based on his strong independence as Foreign Minister, during which he acted without the direct consent of the Prime Minister while appointing ministerial staff. Marmara University Assistant Professor Yüksel Taskin is a proponent of this view, claiming that Davutoğlu has planned on becoming Prime Minister for over 20 years, which would make it seem unlikely that he would consent to acting as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's puppet.[160]

Economic policy[edit]

Economic growth rate in Turkey between 2011 and 2014

Despite controversy over alleged links with Fethullah Gülen, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan retained his position in Davutoğlu's new cabinet with responsibility over the economy. Babacan, who has been an advocate of neoliberal economic policies and independence for the Turkish Central Bank, has been at odds with Erdoğan and other AKP politicians who advocate a more Islamist-orientated economic agenda such as Numan Kurtulmuş and Yiğit Bulut. Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, a supporter of Babacan, also kept his post in the new cabinet. Although the retainment of the two pro-liberal economy ministers pleased investors, the appointment of Kurtulmuş as another Deputy Prime Minister has also created speculation over a potential economic divide within the new government.[161][162]

Davutoğlu became Prime Minister at a time of economic slowdown and uncertainty, which he blames on the weak global economy, particularly the Eurozone. The government slashed economic growth forecasts from 4% to 3.3% in 2014, and from 5% to 4% in 2015. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also lowered its forecasts from 4% to 3.2% in 2015 and estimated 4% growth in 2016. On 6 November 2014, Davutoğlu announced plans to boost the economy through greater global integration. Reform packages included a 9-point plan to boost the technology, energy, health and tourism sectors. With a GDP of $820 billion, a budget deficit of 7%, a current account deficit of 7.9% and an unemployment rate of nearly 10% in 2013, Davutoğlu's government will target a GDP of $1.3 trillion, a budget deficit of 5.2%, a current account deficit of 5.2% and an unemployment rate of 7% by 2018.[163] Davutoğlu has also aimed to reduce the country's dependency of foreign energy imports, and pledged to not pursue a populist economic agenda in the run-up to the 2015 general election.[164]

Economic confidence declined following what was perceived to be an attempt by the government to shut down Bank Asya, which it claims is linked to the Gülen Movement. The government revoked the Bank's ability to collect taxes on behalf of the state, and the bank subsequently lost 25% of its cash deposits after several firms withdrew more than ₺4 billion after a smear campaign.[165] The bank was banned for five weeks from trading on the stock exchange, with the decision raising questions over the government's influence over the legally independent stock exchange authority (BİST). The government was criticised globally for causing economic concern amongst the international financial community, potentially resulting in a reduction of investment into Turkey due to financial insecurity and political uncertainty.[166]

On 2 September 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan announced a new policy to collect income data from citizens in order to apply different debt repayment opportunities in proportion to wages. The new database will aim to stop citizens from becoming indebted with large interest payments.[167]

Government corruption allegations[edit]

Upon becoming Prime Minister, Davutoğlu inherited a substantial number of corruption claims against the AKP and the previous Erdoğan government. On 1 September, Davutoğlu vowed to pursue a strong fight against corruption as part of his government agenda. His true intentions have been disputed by the two main opposition parties, namely the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that Davutoğlu had been appointed as Prime Minister by Erdoğan in order to end the corruption investigations dating from the 17 December 2013 scandal.[168] On 2 September, the İstanbul Attorney General formally dismissed the cases against 96 suspects, while the MHP claimed that the government was behind the decision.[169] The prospect of Davutoğlu's government taking a strong approach against corruption is therefore doubted by political analysts and opposition members.[170]

Constitutional reform[edit]

Davutoğlu has stated that his main priority is to draft a new constitution after the 2015 general election.[171] He has called for opposition parties to be more engaged in this process.[172] He claimed that the current constitution did not enshrine necessary checks and balances or guarantee a stable democratic system, nor did it encourage political participation due to its strict centrist approach. He has thus called for a more liberal, civilian and pluralistic constitution which would respond to the needs of modern Turkey and increase the welfare of its citizens.[14] The opposition have claimed that the true aims of Davutoğlu's proposed reforms are to diminish the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and to dismantle the independent judiciary.

Workers' rights[edit]

Turkey has the highest number of workers' deaths within Europe, which is the third highest in the world according to the International Labour Organisation. The Turkish Statistics Office claims that 1,754 workers deaths have occurred between 2009 and 2014.[173]

Especially after the Soma mine disaster in 2013, Turkish workers' rights and working conditions had come under heavy international and domestic scrutiny. Davutoğlu's government has pledged to improve worker safety in response to the large number of accidents in mines and construction sites. On 10 September 2014, the government passed a long proposed bill which waived the debts of all the family members of those killed in Soma, gave at least one family member the right to work in a state institution while also granting a "death salary" to them. The new law also limited workers to working a maximum of 36 hours a week and 6 hours a day, as well as reducing the retirement age from 55 to 50 while forcing employers to assign job security experts, doctors and health workers for their employees.[15]

On 6 September, an industrial lift accident in a construction sight at Şişli, İstanbul which killed 10 workers renewed outrage regarding the lack of job safety. Social unrest in response to the disaster resulted in riot police firing tear gas at workers' rights protesters.[174] Davutoğlu subsequently promised to review laws regarding workplace safety and implement regulations more carefully, though the alleged links between the owner of the construction sight and the AKP also resulted in sharp criticism.[175][176] Calling the dead workers "martyrs" despite Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç's controversial rejection of the term, Davutoğlu also announced that he would be meeting with workers' unions and calling relatives of those killed to offer his condolences.[177][178][179][180] In a notable incident, a relative which had been called by Davutoğlu accused the Prime Minister of committing a murder, and threatened to take him and his government to court.[181]

In response to the September lift accident, Davutoğlu announced new measures to offer rewards to businesses with a good worker safety record as an incentive to lower accidents.[13]

Another mine accident, the second in six months, occurred in the town of Ermenek, Karaman Province on 28 October 2014. Three days later on October 31, 17 agricultural workers were killed in a bus crash in Yalvaç in Isparta Province.[182] The government received heavy criticism for what was perceived to be an ongoing 'massacre' of workers in Turkey.

Dismantling the 'parallel state' and legal reforms[edit]

Having pledged to continue Erdoğan's fight against Fethullah Gülen and his Cemaat Movement, Davutoğlu's government conducted large-scale arrests of police officers in an attempt to dismantle Gülen's 'parallel state'. The crackdown on the police force led to arrests of several officers accused of plotting a coup, causing uproar due to the alleged legal mishandling of their cases. In July, the number of officers arrested had already reached 100.[183] Most of the detained officers were discharged shortly after being arrested after their cases collapsed due to a lack of evidence, leading to questions in regard to the government's true motives. Such cases occurred in Kocaeli, Adana and Kilis.[184][185][186][186][10][187][188][189]

Relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan[edit]

Davutoğlu and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas

With opinion divided on whether Davutoğlu would be willing to lead a submissive premiership while President Erdoğan took key government decisions, many observers have noted a growingly power-struggle between the Prime Minister and President in the lead-up to the 2015 general election. Alleged disputes focussed foremost on the AKP parliamentary candidate lists, with both Erdoğan and Davutoğlu allegedly drawing up a different list of candidates. In April 2015, the pro-opposition OdaTV reported that Erdoğan had threatened to put Davutoğlu in a position 'worse than Ecevit' if Davutoğlu did not remove 23 candidates who were seen as close to outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, to which Davutoğlu obliged.[190] Arınç, who was barred from standing as a candidate, openly criticised Erdoğan for getting involved with the government's affairs regarding the solution process with Kurdish militants and caused a public polemic between himself, Erdoğan and Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek as a result.[191]

Before the election campaign, Erdoğan chaired a cabinet meeting in January, with a picture of the meeting causing widespread commotion on Twitter due to Davutoğlu perceivably looking grumpy during the event.[192][193] Despite having the constitutional right, the chairing of a cabinet meeting by a President was a rare ordeal in Turkish history, with the opposition demanding a legitimate reason for why Erdoğan felt the need to do so.[194] The President's decision to chair the cabinet was attributed to providing 'a greater pool of ideas'. With journalists hinting at a growing rift between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu, Davutoğlu made a statement praising Erdoğan and saying that his power as Prime Minister had not been weakened by the event.[195] He added further that individuals who were looking for signs of disagreements within the AKP would 'yet again be disappointed', adding that there was no rift between the government and the Presidency.

Selected works[edit]

  • Alternative Paradigms: The Impact of Islamic and Western Weltanschauungs on Political Theory. University Press of America, 1993
  • Civilizational Transformation and the Muslim World. Quill, 1994
  • Stratejik derinlik: Türkiye'nin uluslararası konumu. Küre Yayınları, 2001[196]
  • Osmanlı Medeniyeti: Siyaset İktisat Sanat. Klasik, 2005
  • Küresel Bunalım. Küre, 2002.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ali Babacan
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Preceded by
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister of Turkey
Party political offices
Preceded by
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Leader of the Justice and Development Party