Ankara, Sep 22 () - Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has hailed the strength of his relationship with President Tayyip Erdoğan both in professional and personal terms, while denying the existence of any pro-PM or pro-president factions within the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“What matters is not prioritizing personal disputes while the wheel of the state is operating … [Expressions] such as pro-hodja, pro-reis – these are all produced things. I have never looked at anybody this way” Davutoğlu said late Sept. 21.
Erdoğan, the founding leader of the AKP, is referred by some party members as the “reis” or the leader, while Davutoğlu, an academic-turned-politician is labeled the “hodja” or the professor.
In an interview with Show TV, Davutoğlu recalled that when he took over as prime minister after Erdoğan ascended to the presidency in August 2014, there were questions as to whether he had his “own team” or “inner circle.”
“The fact is that I didn’t have time to build a relationship with [the party] organization as the foreign minister,” Davutoğlu said, adding that this was considered a “weakness.”
“When this was told to me, I said this: This is my biggest advantage because I don’t define things in terms of ‘my team.’ I don’t define anything as pro-hodja or pro-that. The entire AK Parti is my team” he said, while describing his relationship with Erdoğan as “a very strong personal friendship.”
“We wouldn’t relinquish fidelity but at the same time, the president is the one who knows best that I wouldn’t be an ineffective statesman who would act upon guidance with the image of a caretaker prime minister. He didn’t ask for it and he would not do so,” Davutoğlu said, while acknowledging that such assumptions sometimes led to “a psychological burden.”
The remarks came shortly after Erdoğan compared his affection for the AKP to that of a parent for his children, amid reports that the constitutionally impartial president flexed his muscles to intimately shape the party at its Sept. 12 congress.
During the congress, which was the AKP’s first regular congress without the presence of its founding leader since it was founded in 2001, Erdoğan made his clout felt at the event as his loyalists were elected to the party’s decision-making body, overshadowing Davutoğlu’s preferences after the latter’s re-election as AKP leader.