Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed his son-in-law to head Turkey’s powerful new treasury and finance ministry as he unveiled a cabinet dominated by ultra-loyalists.
The choice of Berat Albayrak, who married the president’s daughter in 2004, is not likely to be welcomed by foreign investors who are anxious about the health of the Turkish economy and the independence of the country’s central bank.
During the campaign ahead of elections last month, Mr Albayrak warned that the plunging Turkish lira was the result of an “operation” of “overseas origins” aimed at bringing down the government. Investors argued that it was the product of concerns about an overheating economy and insufficiently high interest rates.
Mehmet Simsek, a former Merrill Lynch banker who served as deputy prime minister in the previous government, was given no role in the new cabinet, which was announced hours after Mr Erdogan was sworn in under a muscular new executive presidency that abolished the role of prime minister and handed him sweeping new powers.
Naci Agbal, the former finance minister, was also sidelined. Both men were seen as rare voices of economic orthodoxy who enjoyed good relations with foreign investors in the financial centres of London and New York and were able to smooth over concerns about Mr Erdogan’s own less conventional views.
The Turkish president has been a vocal opponent of high interest rates, railing against them even amid persistent double-digit inflation and a plunging currency that has lost 17 per cent of its value against the dollar since the start of 2018.
Mr Albayrak has become an increasingly close confidant of his father-in-law in recent years.
The 40-year-old, who holds an MBA in financial management from New York’s Pace University, entered parliament in 2015 after a stint as chief executive of Calik Holding, a privately held company.
Later the same year he was appointed energy minster, but increasingly roamed beyond his brief to act as one of the most senior figures in Mr Erdogan’s government. His rise has drawn ire from some within Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who complain that the Turkish president, who has dominated the country’s politics since 2002, has surrounded himself by family members and ultra-loyalists.
The new cabinet line-up included other surprises, including the appointment of Hulusi Akar, the head of the armed forces, to serve as defence minister. Mr Akar has grown closer to Mr Erdogan since the attempted coup of July 2016, when he was reportedly taken hostage for several hours by the plotters.
Fuat Oktay, a former head of Turkey’s disaster management agency, was appointed as the sole vice-president.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, who has served as foreign minster since 2015, remained in post. Western diplomats will hope that he is able to spearhead a reset at a time of deep strain between Ankara and its one-time allies in Washington and European capitals.
Fahrettin Koca, who serves as a doctor to the Erdogan family and owns the Medipol chain of private hospitals, was appointed health minster.
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