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New Turkish President Approves Pro-EU Cabinet

Gul's win came after months of political tension over his candidacy (epa) August 29, 2007 -- Turkey's first president with an Islamist past, Abdullah Gul, today approved a new pro-European Union reformist cabinet on his first day in office.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who proposed the list, said its aim will be to work for more freedoms and prosperity.

The lineup includes 25 ministers, comprising both outgoing government members and newcomers.

Gul was elected by parliament on August 28 after his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development (AK) party won by a landslide in snap general elections in July.

One of the most prominent cabinet members is former Economy Minister Ali Babacan. He takes over Gul's post of foreign minister and retains the post of chief negotiator in Turkey's EU membership talks.

The list also includes at least three ministers with no history of involvement in political Islam -- British-educated banker Mehmet Simsek, former opposition member Ertugrul Gunay, and Zafer Caglayan, who headed the Ankara chamber of industry.

There is one woman in the cabinet, Nimet Cubukcu, as in the previous one.

Plans For European Integration

After Gul was voted into office, he pledged to remain impartial, stay true to the country's secular principles, and press on with Ankara's ambitions to integrate with the European Union.

Turkey's western allies congratulated Gul after his election, saying they hoped he would further improve Ankara's ties with other countries and help keep the country's democracy reforms on track.

The European Union said it hoped Gul's presidency would help advance Ankara's accession talks with the 27-nation bloc, which began in 2005 during Gul's tenure as foreign minister.

(compiled from agency reports)

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