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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid