Ahmet Davutoğlu

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Ahmet Davutoğlu
Ahmet Davutoglu cropped.JPG
26th Prime Minister of Turkey
Assumed office
28 August 2014
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Deputy Yalçın Akdoğan
Bülent Arınç
Ali Babacan
Numan Kurtulmuş
Preceded by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Leader of the Justice and Development Party
Assumed office
27 August 2014
Preceded by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
50th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
1 May 2009 – 29 August 2014
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Preceded by Ali Babacan
Succeeded by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Personal details
Born (1959-02-26) 26 February 1959 (age 55)
Konya, Turkey
Political party Justice and Development Party
Spouse(s) Sare Davutoğlu (1984–present)
Children Sefure
Hacer Bike
Alma mater Boğaziçi University
Religion Sunni Islam

Ahmet Davutoğlu (Turkish pronunciation: [ah'met da'vutoːɫu]; born 26 February 1959) is a Turkish diplomat and politician who has been the 26th Prime Minister of Turkey since 28 August 2014. He previously served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2014, pursuing a policy of expanding Turkey's regional influence in former Ottoman territories and rebuilding relations with Israel after the 2009 Gaza flotilla raid on the MV Mavi Marmara.[1] He also actively participated in the peace processes of the civil wars in Syria and Libya, as well as the Cyprus dispute and the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. Prior to becoming Foreign Minister, Davutoglu served as chief advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and became a Member of Parliament for Konya in the 2011 general election. He is also a political scientist, an academic, and an ambassador at large.

Following the election of serving Prime Minister and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the 12th President of Turkey, Davutoğlu was announced by the AK Party Central Executive Committee as a candidate for the party leadership.[2][3] He was unanimously elected as leader unopposed during the party's first extraordinary congress and consequently succeeded Erdoğan as Prime Minister.[4] He formed the 62nd Government of the Turkish Republic, which was sworn in on 29 August 2014 by President Erdoğan.[5]

Life and early career[edit]

Ahmet Davutoğlu was born in Taşkent, Konya Province, Turkey. He graduated from İstanbul Erkek Lisesi, which is a Deutsche Auslandsschule (German International school) and studied at the Department of Economics and Political Science of the Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. He holds a Master's degree in Public Administration and a PhD degree in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi University. Between 1993 and 1999, Davutoğlu worked at Marmara University and became a full professor in 1999. He was the Chairman of the Department of International Relations at Beykent University in Istanbul, Turkey. Between 1995 and 1999, he wrote weekly columns for Turkish daily Yeni Şafak.

Davutoğlu at the 50th Munich Security Conference in 2014

Davutoğlu is married, and is a father of four children. His wife is a medical doctor.

Davutoğlu was granted a title of ambassador in 2003 by the joint decision of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Abdullah Gül.[6]

His publications include Alternative Paradigms: The Impact of Islamic and Western Weltanschauungs on Political Theory, The Civilizational Transformation and The Muslim World in English, Stratejik Derinlik (Strategic Depth), and Küresel Bunalım (The Global Crisis) in Turkish. Especially his book Strategic Depth is a very influential book in Turkey's foreign policy orientation. He is very influential in the military, academic, and government triangle shaping Turkish foreign policy.[7]

Foreign Minister[edit]

Davutoğlu was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2009 despite not being a Member of Parliament. He entered the Grand National Assembly as an MP for Konya in the 2011 general election and continued serving as Foreign Minister in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's third cabinet.

He was listed in Foreign Policy magazine as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010" for "being the brains behind Turkey's global reawakening."[8] In an interview, he talked about his "Zero Problems Policy" and said that "it is possible to have zero problems if the other actors respect our values. It doesn't mean that we will be silent in order to have good relations with all parties."[9] In 2011's Foreign Policy magazine's list of "Top 100 Global Thinkers" he was listed together with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for "imagining a new role for Turkey in the world- and making it happen.[10]

On 30 March 2012, Davutoğlu met with Bechara Boutros al-Rahi of Lebanon and said that they should meet occasionally during this century.[11]

Neo-Ottomanism and Pan-Islamism[edit]

Main articles: Neo-Ottomanism and Pan-Islamism

Davutoğlu (third left) at the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation Conference in 2011

Davutoğlu has called for Turkey to become more than just a regional power within Europe and the Middle East and expressed a desire for Ankara to have a far more influential role in world politics.[12] Davutoğlu is generally linked to the notion of Turkish neo-Ottomanism, which favours a commonwealth with its neighbours and old Ottoman connections.[13] Although his foreign policies have been regarded as neo-Ottomanist by Western and especially U.S. media, Davutoğlu does not accept such a characterization. He stated in an interview with Turkish daily Sabah that "as much as we don't use this conceptualization, the fact that it is being used against us is either because of misunderstanding or lack of goodwill." He argued against the idea that Turkey is trying to establish a neo-Ottoman imperial order: "I have said that Turkey as a nation-state is equal with any other nation-state of our region whether it is small in population or area. We don't have any hegemony on anyone. Rather what we are trying to do is to contribute to the establishment of a permanent peace in our region. If by order they mean is Pax Ottomana, Pax in the meaning of order, we are trying to establish a order, it is not wrong to say such thing."[14]

In 2013, Davutoğlu spoke of developing a closer union between former Ottoman lands, though stated that territorial claims would never rest on historical borders.[15]

Davutoğlu giving a lecture at Harvard University

According to Behlül Özkan, who was lectured by Ahmet Davutoğlu in 1998 at Marmara University and currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the same university, Davutoğlu has pan-Islamic notions rather than neo-Ottoman. Özkan wrote an article for the "Survival", a scholarly international studies journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, that he had reached his conclusion by researching approximately 300 articles Davutoğlu wrote between 1990 and 2000.[16] The notion of Pan-Islamism is critical of Turkey's attempts to integrate with western nations, and advocates a union within the Middle East in order to increase regional strength and unity between peoples. Due to the several different cultures and races which inhabit the Middle East today, Pan-Islamists believe that only Islam can provide a strong and long-lasting union between peoples, since they only share Islam in common. Since Davutoğlu is a Sunni Muslim, Özkan stated that Iran is not part of Davutoğlu's plans for a united Middle East.[16][17]

Armenian Genocide[edit]

On April 24, 2014 he and Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement in nine languages where they agreed that the 1915 Armenian deportation was inhumane. They also agreed that this crime should be studied by both Turkish, Armenian, and foreign historians. Nevertheless, he didn't recognize the Armenian Genocide.[18]

Greece and Cyprus[edit]

Davutoğlu visiting Western Thrace

In June 2012, Davutoğlu accused the Greek government of not respecting the rights of Turkish minorities, especially in Western Thrace. He further stressed that the alleged withdrawal of Greek citizenships from Turkish minority citizens was against the Treaty of Lausanne.[19]

In 2013, Davutoğlu brought a possible two-state solution of the Cyprus dispute to Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos after controversy erupted over the ownership of offshore oil reserves. The prospect was swiftly disregarded by the Greek foreign ministry.[20] Davutoğlu also claimed that negotiations to resolve the dispute would accelerate under the leadership of Nikos Anastasiadis, who had supported the Annan Plan and had voted yes in the 2004 Annan Plan referendum. This, according to Davutoğlu, was in stark contrast to former Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, who had voted against. Davutoğlu has also expressed that any new possible solution does not need to be based on the Annan Plan.[21]

Davutoğlu meets with former Greek Foreign Minister Dimitrios Droutsas

On the issue of turning Hagia Sofia into a mosque, Davutoğlu has stated that all international laws on such issues would be obeyed.[22][23] He has also called the Greek government to respect the religious freedoms of Muslims within Greece, which he alleged to be under threat from legislation such as the "240 Imam Act". He claimed that the Greek government should refrain from interfering in religious affairs.[21]

In May 2014, Davutoğlu stated that Turkey would not pay compensation of €90 million to Greek Cyprus for the damages dating back to the 1974 Cyprus invasion despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In a statement, Davutoğlu claimed that the Foreign Ministry saw no need to obey a court ruling which was directed at an entity not recognised by the Republic of Turkey. He also criticised the ECHR ruling, and claimed that it contained errors and inconsistencies. Adding that obeying the ruling was impractical, Davutoğlu stated that the ruling of the court was a substantial blow against achieving a resolution to the Cyprus Dispute. The government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus supported Davutoğlu's position, arguing that the court ruling was simply made to please Greece and Greek Cypriots.[24]


Davutoğlu with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

As the Foreign Minister of a Sunni-majority country, Davutoğlu has voiced concerns over Iran's nuclear program. Regardless, his foreign policy has been to develop relations with Iran, since Iran is Turkey's second biggest supplier of oil after Russia.[25] In contrast to Turkey's western allies, Davutoğlu stated that there was no plan to place an embargo on Iranian oil, and claimed that sanctions against Iran had also damaged Turkey.[26][27] Davutoğlu has stated that his vision for Turkey is for the country to become an "energy corridor" for eastern oil.[28] His stance has been at odds with other cabinet ministers such as Energy minister Taner Yıldız, who has sought to buying more oil from Libya in order to comply with United Nations sanctions against Iran.[29]

After a temporary deal on Iran's nuclear programme was reached in Geneva, Davutoğlu congratulated Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the achievement and stated that the withdrawal of sanctions would benefit both Turkey and Iran. He further stated that Turkey would not want to see the spread of nuclear arms throughout the region.[30]

Friction developed between the two countries after Turkey decided to host a NATO missile defence system against Bashar Al Assad's Syrian forces in 2012.[31] As a supporter of Assad's regime, Iran's foreign policy has been at odds with Davutoğlu's criticism of Assad.[32] Relations in regards to Syria improved in 2013, with Davutoğlu and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jointly calling for a ceasefire ahead of the January 2014 Geneva peace talks.[33] In late 2013, Davutoğlu stated that both Turkey and Iran were united for regional stability.[34]

Iraq and ISIS[edit]

Ahmet Davutoğlu with John Kerry and other Foreign Ministers at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum

Davutoğlu has claimed that the Turkish policy against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been to try and prevent sectarian violence at all costs by reaching out to both Sunni and Shi'ite communities.[35] In August 2014, Davutoğlu stated that he held Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki as responsible for the escalating violence within Iraq, and criticised his refusal to step down.[36] After security forces surrounded Iraqi President Fouad Masoum's presidential palace on 10 August, Davutoğlu claimed that he had "worked all night" to avert any coup attempts and issued a statement of support for President Masoum.[37][38] Davutoğlu has also voiced concern on the impact that the growing unrest has had on Iraq's Turkmen and Yazidi minorities.[39]

Davutoğlu's policy on ISIS has drawn fierce criticism and concern from both the Turkish political opposition and the international community for inactivity, incorrect speculation and even alleged funding.[40][41][42] In a statement on 7 August 2014, Davutoğlu responded to these claims by stating that "anyone who claims that ISIS receives support from Turkey is treacherous."[43] Several news agencies reported that the statement had defended ISIS against accusations of terrorism and had blamed Syria and Iraq for the violence instead.[44][45] Davutoğlu also stated that Turkey is the biggest contributor of humanitarian aid in Iraq.[46] In early 2014, Turkey had destroyed an ISIS convoy in an attempt to respond to their growing influence in Syria.[47]

Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government[edit]

Relations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq strengthened with the ceasefire with PKK rebels. In 2014, Davutoğlu visited northern Iraq and met regional President Massoud Barzani multiple times, stating that Turkey sought closer ties with the KRG in terms of diplomatic relations as well as oil trade.[48] He further stated that no hostilities remained between Turkey and the KRG due to the PKK ceasefire.[49] Talks between Barzani also involved the ISIS related developments in Iraq.[50]

Israel and Gaza[edit]

Before becoming Foreign Minister, Davutoğlu was one of the leading actors on behalf of the Turkish government during the shuttle diplomacy for the settlement of 2008 Israel–Gaza conflict.

Davutoğlu (left) with US Secretary of State John Kerry (centre) and Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah (right) discussing Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal (Paris, 2014)

Following the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010, Davutoğlu put forward three conditions for the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Israel. He stated that the State of Israel should issue an apology for the incident and pay compensation, and also lift the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Davutoğlu managed to secure an apology in March 2013, and compensation deals were finalised in 2014. He further stated that the political unrest in Egypt had delayed the lifting of the naval blockade.[51] In February 2014, Davutoğlu claimed that Turkish-Israeli relations were closer to normalisation than ever, and that the strengthening of Palestine will help increase the influence of Turkey in the Middle East.[52] His remarks were criticised by lawyers for allegedly interfering with the cases against the Israeli soldiers who were involved in the Mavi Marmara incident.[53]

At an Ankara conference in May 2014, Davutoğlu claimed that the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem caused suffering to citizens, and that it was a moral obligation to protect the city's culture and Islamic identity.[54]

With Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan taking a strong anti-Israel stance during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, Davutoğlu pursued a policy of active participation, providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza.[55] Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated significantly, with Israel withdrawing diplomatic staff from Turkey due to safety fears, just a few months after announcing that staff numbers would increase back to normal levels.[56] On July 26, Davutoğlu met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah in Paris in an unsuccessful attempt to draft a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.[57]

Libyan Civil War[edit]

Davutoğlu at the London Conference on Libya, March 2011

Davutoğlu took a humanitarian approach in an attempt to end the suffering of Libyan civilians during the Civil War. In a 2011 conference on Libya, Davutoğlu stated that ending civilian suffering should be a greater priority than toppling Muammar Gaddafi from power, stating that NATO should play a more active role in pressuring Gaddafi to respect the rights of Libyan citizens.[58] However, he warned against full military intervention, stating that the situation should not turn into a war effort similar to those in Iraq or Afghanistan.[59] In April, Davutoğlu stated that the Turkish government had cut its diplomatic ties with Gaddafi's regime and instead recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya and pledged greater financial aid to the rebels.[60] In May 2011, Davutoğlu met with rebel leaders and voiced concerns on the threats to civilians, arguing that a peaceful transition of power could be achieved if Gaddafi and his family stepped aside.[61]


Davutoğlu at the London conference on Somalia in 2013

Davutoğlu has played a leading role in the Turkish government's close bilateral ties with the Federal Government of Somalia.[62] Following a greatly improved security situation in Mogadishu in mid-2011, the Turkish government re-opened its foreign embassy with the intention of more effectively assisting in the post-conflict development process.[63] It was among the first foreign administrations to resume formal diplomatic relations with Somalia after the civil war.[64] Davutoğlu further encouraged other nations to follow suit and re-open their own embassies in the country, welcoming in that regard the new British embassy in Mogadishu.[62]

Development cooperation between Turkey and Somalia is multi-tiered, and includes military, social, economic and infrastructural partnerships.[64][65] In May 2010, the Turkish and Somali governments signed a military training agreement, in keeping with the provisions outlined in the Djibouti Peace Process.[66] Enforcement of the pact officially began in November 2012.[65]

Following the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in 2012 and the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President, the Turkish authorities re-affirmed Turkey's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.[67] In May 2013, Davutoğlu was also among the participants at the Somalia Conference in London co-chaired by President Mohamud.[68] Davutoğlu therein emphasized the importance of supporting Mohamud's Six-Pillar Policy for Somalia. Additionally, he brokered national reconciliation talks in Ankara between the Somali federal government and the Somaliland regional administration in northwestern Somalia. In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, Davutoğlu indicated that the Turkish government's chief priority was in assisting the Somali federal government to consolidate its authority. He also reaffirmed Turkey's commitment to Somalia's territorial integrity and political sovereignty.[62]

Syrian Civil War[edit]

Davutoğlu with John Kerry and Syrian Opposition Council Chairman Moaz al-Khatib in İstanbul, May 2013

The Turkish government adopted a policy of strong opposition against Bashar Al Assad in the Syrian Civil War.[69] Davutoğlu has supported the need to strengthen the rebels against Assad's regime, though his stance was complicated by the growing influence of Al-Qaeda related militant action within Syria as the civil war progressed.

In September 2012, Davutoğlu called for the establishment of "safe zones" in northern Syria to accommodate refugees and reduce the number of civilian casualties. He warned that continued global inactivity in regards to Syria will lead to failure "like Bosnia" in response to the United Nations General Assembly's failure to reach consensus.[70]

Davutoğlu (left) and UK former Government Minister Hugh Robertson (right) at the Friends of Syria meeting in London, May 2014

In a conference of Syria-bordering countries hosted in Jordan, Davutoğlu stated in May 2014 that Turkey had spent US$3 billion on maintaining refugee camps, and that the United Nations needed to do more to finance their upkeeping. In the same conference, he claimed that "the world has failed Syria."[71] Davutoğlu has pledged to support the United States should they authorise military action within Syria. Losing confidence in the United Nations Security Council, Davutoğlu has not ruled out a military option to resolving the crisis. The political opposition within Turkey has strongly criticised Davutoğlu's policy on Syria, claiming that it was responsible for the 2013 Reyhanlı bombings.[72]

On March 23, 2014, a Syrian fighter jet was shot down by the Turkish Armed Forces. Davutoğlu claimed that the jet had violated Turkish airspace, whereas this allegation was denied by the Syrian authorities. The incident occurred 7 days before local elections, and Davutoğlu claimed that anyone who thought that the downing of the jet was an election ploy was "evil minded."[73] He also stated that Turkey would not accept the 2014 Syrian presidential election as legitimate.[74]

Prime Minister[edit]

Ahmet Davutoğlu became the 26th Prime Minister of Turkey on 28 August 2014 after his predecessor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected as the 12th President of Turkey. He currently leads the 62nd government of Turkey.

Election as AK Party leader[edit]

Davutoğlu with fellow AK Party ministers Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ertuğrul Günay while opening a Yunus Emre cultural centre in Cairo, 2011

Upon the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as President, the leadership of the AKP became vacant for the first time in the party's history. In a meeting chaired by Erdoğan that lasted three hours, Davutoğlu was put forward by the AKP Central Executive Board (MYK) as a candidate for the leadership on 21 August 2014.[75] He was unanimously elected unopposed as party leader in the party's first extraordinary congress on 27 August, taking 1,382 votes.[76] He thus formed his government on the 28th while Erdoğan took over as President.[77] No other candidate has voiced opposition or has declared intention to run for the party leadership as a rival.[78]

The AK Party MYK's proposal to elect Davutoğlu as party leader has been attributed to several factors. Davutoğlu strongly supported Prime Minister Erdoğan during the 2013-14 anti-government protests and the 17 December government corruption scandal, and was thus seen as a close ally and partner that could work in harmony with Erdoğan after the latter became President.[79] Davutoğlu's loyalty and similar foreign policy ideals to Erdoğan, as well as his active involvement in situations such as the Gaza conflict and the Syrian Civil War has resulted in strong support from AK Party members and supporters.[80] Critics of the AK Party have put forward the view that Davutoğlu's loyalty to Erdoğan will allow Erdoğan as President to continue pursuing his agenda and controlling the government, through the use of the President's rarely used cabinet-calling powers, while Davutoğlu himself takes a docile approach.[81][82][83][84]

Selected works[edit]

  • Alternative Paradigms: The Impact of Islamic and Western Weltanschauungs on Political Theory. University Press of America, 1993
  • Civilizational Transformation and the Muslim World. Quill, 1994
  • Stratejik derinlik: Türkiye'nin uluslararası konumu. Küre Yayınları, 2001[85]
  • Osmanlı Medeniyeti: Siyaset İktisat Sanat. Klasik, 2005
  • Küresel Bunalım. Küre, 2002.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ali Babacan
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Preceded by
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister of Turkey
Party political offices
Preceded by
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Leader of the Justice and Development Party