News / Europe

    Erdogan Sets Stage for Turkey's Future

    Turkey's PM and leader of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his wife Emine Erdogan (R), throws carnations to supporters during his party congress in Ankara, September 30, 2012.
    Turkey's PM and leader of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his wife Emine Erdogan (R), throws carnations to supporters during his party congress in Ankara, September 30, 2012.
    Dorian Jones
    ISTANBUL — Turkey's ruling party recently held key meetings to lay out policies for the country's next decade. In a keynote speech, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this will be his last parliamentary term -- but he hinted he might seek the presidency to build on his near-decade in power.

    More than 10,000 members of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, gathered Sunday for its party congress. The centerpiece of the meeting was an address by Erdogan in which he outlined the country's future -- mentioning the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023.

    x
    "We have a bright future. Our country has the potential to be one of the greatest powers of its region and the world,"  he said.  "We will continue to advance toward our 2023 targets and build Turkey's future hand in hand with our nation."

    Erdogan was re-elected leader at the party congress but confirmed that his current term as prime minister will be his last, in compliance with a party regulation that forbids more than three consecutive terms in office. However, he hinted at possibly contesting that regulation saying "the music pauses but does not end."

    For political columnist Cengiz Aktar of the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman, Erdogan's message was clear.

    "In between the lines, what we heard [is] 'I will be running this country, be it as a president or a prime minister, forever.'  That was his very clear message.," opined Aktar. "That was also the tone of the entire congress."

    Analysts said one main obstacle to Erdogan's presumed presidential ambitions is a resurgence in fighting by Kurdish rebels of the PKK.  According to opinion polls, the violence has resulted in increasing criticism of the government.

    Erdogan used Sunday's congress to address the Kurdish minority, stressing the reforms introduced by his government.  He said politics, rather than violence, is the only way to find a solution to the decades-long insurgency.

    But analysts said the prime minister's efforts on the Kurdish issue may have fallen short. For now, he has ruled out such Kurdish political demands as local autonomy - a goal strongly opposed by Turkey's powerful nationalist constituency.

    Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University said the AK congress revealed the prime minister's strategy for the country and a future presidential campaign.

    "I was at the congress yesterday. I heard the language. I have seen the symbolism. It's all in reference to religion," said Ozel. "Everything is discussed in reference to religion, with a pinch of nationalism. He is appealing both to the religious and to the nationalist sentiments of 60 to 65 percent of the electorate which are in the right part of the spectrum and that constitute overwhelming majority of the Turkish electorate."

    Such a stance complements Erdogan's foreign policy goals: presenting Turkey as a model to the Muslim world.

    The AK meeting drew leading political figures from mainly-Muslim countries across the region, including Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Political columnist Aktar of Today's Zaman said the congress clearly indicates the future direction of Turkey.

    "He [Erdogan] underlined, repeated, stressed a kind of new vision for Turkey, with a lot of pretension and ambition toward the world and in particular toward the Muslim world," said Aktar.

    Erdogan did not mention the European Union during his nearly three-hour speech.  Until recently, securing EU membership was a foreign policy priority of the government.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora