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    AKP breakaway party will prioritise economic reforms, relations with West

    A long awaited new political party headed by former ranking officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will prioritise economic reforms and seek to mend ties with the European Union and NATO, Euronews reported on Wednesday.

    The party, which is likely to be launched in September under the leadership of former AKP Finance Minister Ali Babacan, is likely to follow a centrist-liberal line, and will seek to reverse economic decline and the shift away from the west typified by the government’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems.

    Babacan, who is widely praised for his policies as finance minister, has stepped up efforts to establish the party after the AKP’s defeats in the March 31 local elections, Euronews said. The party lost mayoral votes in five of Turkey’s most populous provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara

    While Babacan’s plan is to officially launch the new party in September, he may speed up the process by declaring a third way manifesto in July, when Turkey has to make important decision on foreign policy, especially about the purchase of Russian S-400 systems, Euronews said.

    Multiple media reports suggest Babacan is working with Abdullah Gül, a founding member of the AKP who has served as prime minister and president during the party’s 17-year rule.

    Euronews said former Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, former Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, former head of Turkish constitutional court Haşim Kılıç, and veteran journalist Fehmi Koru will also take part in a commission designed to shape the political direction of the new party.

    The group led by Babacan is also in talks with Ahmet Davutoğlu, another former senior AKP figure and ex-prime minister, Euronews said. According to an unnamed source in Babacan’s team, despite regular meetings between two politicians, there are concerns that the public may see the new party as an Islamist one due to the inclusion of Davutoğlu.

    According to Euronews, the new party will propose a return to the parliamentary system instead of the existing executive presidential system. In addition to talks with politicians in AKP, the group is also meeting opposition politicians in the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and nationalist Good Party.

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    The party will aim to establish an enabling environment for foreign investors by prioritising the rule of law and human rights and will develop a new programme to mend Turkey’s relations with the Western bloc, Euronews said.

    Babacan, who also served as the chief negotiator in Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, also aims to rekindle Turkey’s EU membership bid, the news site reported.

    BBC Turkish reported that Babacan, who was sidelined by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as he opposed the president’s unorthodox economic policies, met with Erdoğan last week and said he wanted to leave the AKP’s board of founders.

    According to BBC Turkish, Babacan handed Erdoğan a file detailing his reasons for leaving the board, but he did not mention any decision to resign from the AKP and establish a new political party.

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