News / Europe

Turkey's Erdogan Sworn In as President, Consolidates Power

Turkey's new President Tayyip Erdogan attends a swearing in ceremony at the parliament in Ankara, Aug. 28, 2014.
Turkey's new President Tayyip Erdogan attends a swearing in ceremony at the parliament in Ankara, Aug. 28, 2014.
Reuters

Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's president on Thursday, cementing his position as its most powerful leader of recent times, in a step opponents fear heralds more authoritarian rule and widening religious influence in public life.

Reading the oath of office in a ceremony in parliament, Erdogan vowed to protect Turkey's independence and integrity, to abide by the constitution and by the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern secular republic.

Erdogan, who had been prime minister since 2003, has consistently presented his time in office as a historic mission to transform Turkey domestically and as a regional power.

Deputies of the main opposition CHP walked out shortly before Erdogan's oath. Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu boycotted the ceremony, arguing Erdogan breached the constitution by remaining premier for the weeks after his presidential victory.

“We're now more worried than ever about one-man, autocratic rule in Turkey,” CHP deputy Aykan Erdemir told Reuters.

Around 200 protesters chanting slogans against Erdogan and carrying banners saying “Presidency cannot wash away corruption or theft” gathered later in Istanbul. Police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.

After laying a wreath at Ataturk's mausoleum in the heart of Ankara, Erdogan's limousine was escorted by military cavalcade to the presidential palace where he was greeted by outgoing president Abdullah Gul, a co-founder of Erdogan's AK Party.

Moments after being sworn in, Erdogan appointed outgoing foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as acting prime minister. Davutoglu will oversee the existing cabinet until Erdogan asks him to form a new government expected to be announced on Friday.

Erdogan's victory in Turkey's first popular presidential election this month capped more than decade as prime minister in which the economy has tripled in dollar terms and the country has carved out a growing, though often controversial, role in the politics of the Middle East.

Opponents warn his ambition to establish an executive presidential system will concentrate too much power in the hands of a leader with autocratic instincts and roots in Islamist politics, and lead the EU candidate country ever further from the secular ideals of Ataturk.

Senior representatives of some 90 countries from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe attended ceremonies in the evening, including the emir of Qatar and Iran's foreign minister.

There were no heads of major Western states, many of which have viewed Erdogan skeptically since a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in June of last year.

But despite faltering ties with European partners, Erdogan used his first speech as president to say Turkey's decades long bid to join the European Union would be re-energized.

“Turkey's path to the EU, which is a strategic target, will continue more decisively,” Erdogan said. Democratic reforms and a peace process aimed at ending a 30 year insurgency by Kurdish militants would also remain priorities.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had been due to attend but canceled after accusing Russia of bringing troops into the southeast of the country in support of pro-Moscow separatist rebels.

Challenges ahead

In a final speech as AK Party leader on Wednesday, Erdogan spoke of his move to the presidential palace as the birth of a new Turkey. But he vowed that the AK's mission to elevate the country as a major regional power would go on unchanged after he left party politics. He must cut party ties as head of state.

Erdogan's rhetoric has long played on the divisions between his supporters among Turkey's pious conservatives and a Western-facing, largely secular class suspicious of his Islamic ideals. In his farewell party address, he tried to strike a more conciliatory note.

“Whether they love us or not, I reach out my hand from here to every one of the 77 million people,” he said. “We understand your lifestyles, your values ... We want you to understand the bans, restrictions and threats we overcame to get here today.”

His combative nature was still in evidence, however, as he vowed to fight on against the “treachery” of his ally-turned-foe U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan accuses Gulen of orchestrating a corruption scandal targeting the government through a network of followers in the police and judiciary.

That power struggle will be one of the new government's top priorities, but it will also have to cope with a slowing economy and the threat from Islamic State militants over its southern borders with Iraq and Syria.

The current economic team, including Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, is expected to remain largely intact, while intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, a close Erdogan confidante, and EU minister Mevlut Cavusoglu are leading contenders for foreign minister.

Erdogan aide Yalcin Akdogan was also expected to take up a position in cabinet, possibly as a deputy prime minister, while AK deputy chairman Mustafa Sentop is seen as a candidate for justice minister, senior officials have said.

The AK party must win a stronger majority in parliament in a general election due by next June if Erdogan is to secure his ambition of changing the constitution and establishing an executive presidency.

In the meantime, he will use to the full the powers of the existing presidency which has functioned under predecessors largely as a ceremonial position. He can head government meetings and exert influence by dint of his personal authority, as reflected in a series of election victories since 2002. 

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid