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Turkish political changes not likely to delay space agency

The new Turkish Minister of Defence, Fikri Isik. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.
The new Turkish Minister of Defence, Fikri Isik. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.

The departure of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s subsequent reshuffle of the Turkish cabinet is not likely to further delay the establishment and creation of a Turkish space agency.

Davutoglu has been replaced as Prime Minister by Binali Yildirim, a noted loyalist to President Erdogan.

The reshuffle seems to have had minimal impact on the Turkish space portfolio. For example, Fikri Isik, the Minister for Science, Industry, and Technology under Davutoglu is now the new Minister of Defence, and therefore is familiar with the issues pertinent to space. Indeed, in his previous job Isik was directly responsible for overseeing indigenous Turkish space activities.

The previous Minister of Defence, Ismet Yilmaz, has been appointed Minister of Education.

Referring to Fikri Isik’s background at the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology, a Turkish official is quoted by US publication Defense News as saying, “Isik did not have a directly defense-related portfolio except the satellite programs but he was a de facto insider to procurement matters. Now he has officially become the man in charge.”

Replacing Fikri Isik at the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology is Faruk Ozlu, formerly Deputy Undersecretary at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkish procurement agency. According to Defense News, Ozlu, educated as a mechanical engineer, sat on the boards of key Turkish defense and aerospace companies such as Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries, HEAS, and STM.

Like the new Minister of Defence, Ozlu should be familiar with the space portfolio.

The Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology and the Ministry of Defence are expected to be the principal ministries responsible for the Turkish Space Agency. The agency was only months away from being officially established before Ahmet Davutoglu resigned as Prime Minister.

It is possible that Davutoglu’s replacement, Prime Minister Yildirim, may have his own political agenda that might delay the establishment of a Turkish Space Agency. It is widely believed, however, that Yildirim will be a more pliant Prime Minister for President Erdogan and that continuity is more likely for now.


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