Turkey’s new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday vowed to seek a peace deal with Kurdish rebels with new vigour and pursue an assertive foreign policy where Ankara would set its own agenda.
Davutoglu, the former foreign minister 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 member of the EU by 2023 as he presented the programme of his new government.
But he said special priority would be paid to 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 which 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.
“We will be act in a more decisive manner and tear down the walls between our nation and the state.”
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 criticised by some analysts for persuing an overly ambitious foreign policy while top diplomat — said Turkey would carry on with an 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 is 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 a a top 10 global economy by 2023 while a hugely ambitious new ship canal for Istanbul to take the strain from the Bosphorus “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 be an example for the world with its economic, scientific, technologic, social and cultural policies,” said Davutoglu.
Erdogan, whose ruling Justice and Development Party has been in government since 2002, has vowed to build a “new Turkey” based on a new constitution, peace with Kurds and a booming economy.