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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 19:39 GMT
Turkish leaders hold first meeting
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Mr Erdogan will travel to both Greece and Cyprus
The leader of Turkey's Justice and Development (AK) Party has met the country's president for the first time since winning a landslide election victory on Sunday - but the two men did not discuss who will become prime minister.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan cannot occupy the post himself because a conviction for inciting religious hatred excludes him from parliament - although the BBC Ankara correspondent says Mr Erdogan already acts as if he is the prime minister.

He said after Thursday's meeting that his party - a successor to the Islamist Virtue Party - would nominate a candidate next week at the earliest.

"We did not go into that issue at all, that comes after the establishment of the parliament speaker and his office," Mr Erdogan said.

EU membership focus

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has insisted that the choice of prime minister is his prerogative, and has hinted he does not want a puppet who would be controlled by Mr Erdogan behind the scenes.

Abdullah Gul
Abdullah Gul is the most obvious choice for PM

Mr Erdogan has made it clear he wants some input into the appointment.

Before Thursday's meeting, correspondents had been suggesting the party may put several names forward and allow the president to choose one of them.

There is speculation that the AK Party, with nearly two thirds of the seats in parliament, will try to change the constitution to allow Mr Erdogan to take the top job.


Constitutional changes are needed... [but] we also need to take up other issues as well, such as immunity

CHP leader Deniz Baykal

Deniz Baykal, leader of the centre-left Republican People's Party (CHP) - the only other party to win seats in parliament - has said he supports overturning the ban, the Associated Press reports.

But he says parliament would also have to lift immunity against prosecution for members of parliament. Turkey's immunity laws are widely said to contribute to corruption.

Mr Erdogan said he and President Sezer had discussed Turkey's EU membership bid.

He and Mr Baykal have agreed to co-operate on the issue - a move that the president welcomed.

Cyprus trip

Mr Erdogan has pledged to tour EU countries to drum up support for Turkish membership, starting with a trip to Greece on 18 November.

He will also visit Turkish-held northern Cyprus on 15 November.

The United Nations is about to release a report on the prospects for healing divisions between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island, amid fading hopes that a resolution might be possible before the EU concludes accession talks with Cyprus in December.

Mr Erdogan said this week he supported Cyprus's re-unification on the basis of the Belgium model - a federal state system with a strong central administration.

Parliament session

The first session of the new Turkish parliament, when moves may be made to pick a speaker, is due on Wednesday at the earliest.

The most obvious candidate for the post of prime minister is AK deputy leader Abdullah Gul, a former banker who is close to Mr Erdogan - although some observers believe Mr Erdogan may consider him too powerful.

Other names being suggested include:

  • AK founding member Bulent Arinc, a lawyer by training, who was an MP in both the Welfare and Virtue parties, the AK's Islamist predecessors

  • Vecdi Gonul, who has ministerial experience and is a friend of President Sezer

  • Abdullatif Sener - a former finance minister and doctor in economics

  • Abdulkadir Aksu - a former government minister and regional security chief

  • Ertugrul Yalcinbayir - a lawyer who used to be a member of the conservative Motherland Party, and is now general secretary of the AK.

Turkey's election

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04 Nov 02 | Business
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