Erdogan to appoint new Turkish PM ‘rapidly’

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is planning to assign the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s Binali Yildirim as prime minister on Sunday.

Erdogan’s remarks came late Thursday during a live televised event at the Presidential Palace in Ankara where he met Turkish youngsters on Turkey’s Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day.

The president said the presence of only one candidate for the AK Party’s leadership demonstrated “unity”, adding that he expects outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to present his resignation the same night.

“I am not planning to cause any delay to the assignment of the next prime minister. I will assign the AK Party chairman as prime minister the same day, for him to form his ministerial cabinet rapidly,” Erdogan added.

On Thursday, the AK Party announced its candidate to assume its chairmanship – and likely, the country’s premiership: current Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communications Binali Yildirim.

AK Party Deputy Chairman and spokesperson Omer Celik had made the announcement in Ankara, hailing “our esteemed friend” Yildirim and saying he had been chosen by a “huge consensus” within the party.

-Visa issues-

Erdogan was also asked about when Turkey would have the right to visa-free travel within the EU’s Schengen zone.

The president said steps were taken during both his tenure as premier and Ahmet Davutoglu’s term, adding that the EU had presented the impression to Turkey that visa-free travel “was a done deal”.

“They [the EU] said it would be done in June, but now it looks like they are evading,” Erdogan said.

The EU-Turkey deal on refugees allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets 72 requirements.

Ankara has met most of these but the EU’s demands for changes to Turkey’s anti-terrorism legislation have led to a deadlock in negotiations.