Turkish foreign minister quits, Dervis does U-turn

ANKARA, Reuters

Turkey’s ailing, embattled Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit suffered a bitter blow on Thursday when his foreign minister quit, but avoided a second defection when his economy minister was persuaded to stay.

Ismail Cem quit as foreign minister, and was briefly followed by Economy Minister Kemal Dervis — but he later said he was withdrawing his resignation at Ecevit’s request.

“Upon the requests of the president and prime minister, I have accepted that my resignation will not be processed,” Dervis, credited as the architect of Turkey’s $16 billion economic recovery deal with the IMF, said in a short statement.

Ecevit, fighting back amid a mutiny among his followers, urged over 35 deputies, including ministers, who have resigned this week to return to his Democratic Left Party (DSP).

“Some of our friends are serving the purposes of those circles who want to destroy the DSP, they are falling into a trap,” he said in his first public statement since his rightist coalition partners sparked a crisis by demanding elections be held early, in November.