The AK Party gathered at a meeting in Ankara's Kızılcahamam district over the weekend, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the deputies discussed the party's new plans to emerge as the victor in the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are set to be held in June, and to take power as the single-party government once again.
The prime minister recently announced that general elections, scheduled to take place in July of next year, may be held in June instead. According to the AK Party's schedule, the elections will take place on June 5. If the Supreme Election Board (YSK) does not agree with the party regarding the date, the elections will be held on June 12. The roadmap, which has been prepared by Erdoğan and some of his closest party members, focuses on two main axes. The first is making a brand new civilian constitution and settling the Kurdish issue and ending the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism. The second is kicking off a series of new investments.
Final touches to the AK Party’s new action plan will be made in April in another party meeting to be held, which will also be made public. The action plan consists of new reforms to be carried out by various ministries. Erdoğan reportedly ordered all ministries to set their own goals to be realized until 2023, which will mark the 100th year of the foundation of the Turkish Republic. The projects drawn by the strategic development and research and development branches of the ministries will be gathered at the Prime Ministry and the ones to be included in the government’s program will be selected.
$500 billion investment planned
An AK Party official who spoke to Today’s Zaman on condition of anonymity gave some details about the party’s new plans. “We have big and assertive goals,” he said. According to the government’s plans, the investments planned to be made until 2023 amount to $500 billion. Another goal of the ruling party is to increase gross domestic product (GDP) per capita to $15,000.
The investments to be made by the Transportation Ministry, Energy Ministry and Ministry of Public Works will be the most outstanding projects of the government in the new term. The Transportation Ministry plans to embark on high-speed rail projects. Nearly 20,000 kilometers of divided highways constructed by the government since 2003 are planned to be doubled.
The Energy Ministry plans to complete the construction of Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project, which will transport Kazakh oil through Turkey. Among the plans of the Ministry of Justice is a project to realize all the goals set by the judicial reform strategy draft earlier prepared by the Ministry of Justice with the purpose of matching EU standards.
The main project of the Interior Ministry will be the local government. The ministry plans to implement reforms to make local governments stronger by 2015. With the reform, local branches of many ministries will be transferred to local governments.
If it comes to power again in 2011, the AK Party also plans to carry out some reforms in the areas of health and education.
Erdoğan on CHP’s reception stance
Apart from discussing the party’s new plans, Erdoğan also commented on recent developments in the country with his deputies and party members. The prime minister in particular directed criticism at main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has been experiencing an intra-party rift over whether to attend a reception to be hosted by the president and his wife or not. The CHP is not in favor of attending the reception, which will be held on the occasion of the 87th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, since President Abdullah Gül’s wife, Hayrünnisa Gül, wears a headscarf. According to the main opposition party, the first lady cannot wear the headscarf because the official reception is being held on state premises, where wearing the scarf is prohibited. But an earlier pledge by the party’s leader to fight the ban on the use of the Muslim headscarf prevents the party from unanimously boycotting the event.
In the past, the Office of the President has held two receptions, one with the spouses and one without, in order to avoid controversy over the first lady’s headscarf. But this year it has decided to hold only one reception with the attendance of the first lady.
“You know there were not two receptions before our current president. Now, he decided to go back to a single reception. Our prime minister is inviting everyone with their spouse without discrimination. Such places belong to us and the public. There cannot be a place where the public cannot enter. You cannot ban a citizen from entering a certain place. The country is now solving this issue,” the prime minister said in strong remarks during the meeting.