News / Europe

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

New Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) in a meeting with new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 29, 2014.
New Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) in a meeting with new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 29, 2014.
Dorian Jones

In his victory speech after securing his new post, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned a "new Turkey" and delivered a conciliatory message promising to embrace all groups within the country. He is expected to pursue a "more balanced" foreign policy, and will be seeking to rewrite the constitution.

In his first address as head of state, President Erdogan promised this week he would work to make a “new Turkey, a great Turkey”.

He also reaffirmed his commitment to continuing the peace process with the Kurdish rebel group the PKK and re-energizing Turkey’s long stalled bid to join the European Union.

He is also expected to reboot reunification efforts to reunite the island of Cyprus, divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since 1971.

Analyst Sinan Ulgen of the research organization Carnegie Europe says such moves will help to repair damage to President Erdogan’s international reputation after last year’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

"I think he has two big elements of leverage. One is the Kurdish issue, and the other is the Cyprus problem. If he is able to solve either one of them or both of them he will certainly have the opportunity to win back some of the trust that he has lost in the past year in terms of his internationally standing," said Ulgen.

Observers say a sign of the president’s diminished international standing is that no western European leader attended the presidential swearing-in ceremony this week.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University said  Erdogan will also address growing western concerns that Ankara was turning a blind eye to the flow of Jihadists using Turkey to join Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.

"In words and I guess in deeds too, it's changing its policy, because it cannot sustain a dialogue with its allies, which after all Turkey understood its needs, unless it really changes drastically its policy towards IS. Because everything it has done in the last 4 years has undermined its standing in the world," Ozel stated.

Although the role of the president is at present ceremonial, Erdogan has made clear that he will continue to run the country until a general election next summer. His ambition is then to be given full executive powers.

His choice of a loyal political ally, former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, as his replacement as prime minister is seen as key to facilitating his ambitions to continue to run the country.

The president political fate lies to a large degree in Davutoglu hands. With his plan to change the current parliamentary system to a presidential one, he needs for the AK party headed by Davutoglu, to secure a two-thirds parliamentary majority in next year’s general election to introduce constitutional reform, something the ruling AK party has never done.

But Marmara University assistant professor of political science Yuksel Taskin says the prime minister is unlikely to be a puppet of the president.

"In the long run I don't think Davutoglu would be silent and permissive because for 20 years Davutoglu was planning to be prime minister.... Secondly, Davutoglu actually created his own cadres, especially when he was in the ministry of foreign affairs, he actually promoted many young scholars as advisers or part of the bureaucracy. So just like Erdogan, Davutoglu also has a strong basis," Taskin noted.

Analyst Ulgen warned President Erdogan is in a race against time to preserve his power. "He will go to the presidency under the current constitution which indeed tends to gradually erode the power of the president to the advantage of the power of the prime minister," he said.

Turkish history is littered with political leaders whose power slipped away on ascending to the presidency. But international relations expert Ozel, said the current president, unlike his predecessors, has a clear mandate and, for now, an iron grip on the ruling AK Party. And, he said, if he succeeds in his political goal of constitutional change it will open the door to a radical transformation of the country.

"Erdogan promises a new republic where the chief executive will be president of the republic and not the prime minister. And the frame of reference of this new republic is going to be much more Islamic than we ever thought was possible," said Ozel.

President Erdogan, who comes from a political Islamist past, has dismissed such concerns. But critics argue a presidential system envisaged by the president would effectively remove any checks to his power.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid