Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday said membership in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was based on the principle of staying loyal to the Islamist cause as he criticized the resignation of Ali Babacan, former deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, Ahval reported.
Babacan, who has stepped up efforts to establish a new liberal political party, announced his resignation on Monday. A founding member of the AKP, Babacan said he would seek to begin a separate political movement with allies who had a new vision for Turkey.
“In our fellowship for our cause, there is one thing. You cannot leave the cause. It means serving till the end,” the Hürriyet newspaper quoted Erdoğan as saying in reference to Babacan’s decision.
BBC Turkish reported last month that Babacan visited Erdoğan early in June and told him that he wanted to leave the ruling party’s founders’ board.
Erdoğan confirmed the meeting, saying it took place before the Istanbul mayoral revote on June 23, while answering questions from Turkish journalists on his way back from a meeting in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
According to Erdoğan, Babacan told him he had lost his sense of belonging to the AKP but said he had been trying to establish a platform rather than a new party.
Erdoğan said he had previously offered Babacan a presidential advisor position or a post in Uzbekistan, whose president had asked Erdoğan for help in restructuring the country. Babacan declined both offers, Erdoğan said.
The Turkish president said Babacan had assumed an important role in directing the Turkish economy but that the pair had always disagreed on interest rates. Erdoğan maintains an unorthodox view that higher interest rates cause higher inflation.
“Your way is your way, it is alright, but don’t forget that you have no right to divide the ummah [Muslim community]. That is what you are doing. You will go nowhere by destroying it,” Erdoğan said he told Babacan.
Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper reported last month that Erdoğan had been trying to learn whether Mehmet Şimşek, the former deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, planned to join Babacan’s party.
Nagehan Alçı, a columnist with pro-government Habertürk news website, said on Wednesday that Şimşek, who left Erdoğan’s cabinet following the June 24 elections last year, was at the heart of efforts to establish a new party. According to Alçı, Şimşek is promoting the new party among foreign investors in London.