ANKARA: Turkey’s new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to seek a peace deal with Kurdish rebels with a new vigor Monday, and to pursue an assertive foreign policy by which Ankara would set its own agenda.
Davutoglu, who was previously the foreign minister, but who took over as premier from new President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, reaffirmed ambitious goals – to make Turkey a top 10 global economy and a member of the EU by 2023 – as he presented the program of his new government.
But he said a special priority would be making peace with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels seeking self-rule for Kurds in the southeast of Turkey, to end a three-decade insurgency that has claimed some 40,000 lives.
“We will carry out the peace process with a determination that will change the fate of the country. We will press on with efforts to make sure all segments of the society can embrace it,” Davutoglu told parliament.
Erdogan, who was elected president this month, launched clandestine negotiations with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012. But they stalled in September last year when the rebels accused him of failing to deliver on reform.
However, hopes have been raised in recent weeks of a new breakthrough, and Ocalan has said that the conflict is “coming to an end.”
Davutoglu – who was criticized by some analysts for pursuing an overly ambitious foreign policy while he was the country’s top diplomat – said Turkey would carry on with its assertive diplomacy.
“We will be not be a country whose agenda is set by other countries,” he said.
“ Turkey ... will continue to bring stability to the world by being part of the solution, both in the region and on a global scale. We will pursue an active foreign policy.”
He said Turkey was aiming to become an EU member by 2023, the year it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the modern Turkish state by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Turkey will also work to be one of the top 10 global economies by 2023, while a hugely ambitious new ship canal for Istanbul to take the strain from the Bosporus “will be one of the most important projects of the new Turkey.”
“Our goal is to create a more powerful, wealthy, respectable and democratic Turkey and to be an example for the world with its economic, scientific, technologic, social and cultural policies,” Davutoglu said.