Erdoğan vows ‘utterly different’ AKP by 2023
After a brief holiday following Istanbul rerun elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has returned to Ankara and resumed his heavy schedule.
One of the first things he did was convene all the provincial heads of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as the cabinet members and senior AKP officials together at a meeting at the party headquarters on July 26. His speech was one of the most substantial in the post-Istanbul elections in which his party lost Turkey’s largest metropolis to the opposition after 25 years.
He, therefore, used the venue to convey some very important messages for the upcoming period in regards to government policies in a changing political landscape.
Utterly different AKP: President Erdoğan has repeated once again the importance of a four-year-long election-free period ahead of his government and underlined that they will continue on their path by taking necessary lessons from the local elections.
“As you know, the next elections will take place on June 2023. We will carry out substantial work at every level until that day. And we will appear before our people in these elections as an utterly different AK Party with the same excitement of the day it was founded and with its 22-year experience in government,” he said.
Changes in the party cadres should only be considered as natural in the context that the AKP has always been seeking to reform itself, Erdoğan said, hinting a future reshuffle within the AKP as well as an adjustment in the ways they do politics. His statement did not necessarily imply any cabinet reshuffle, but his strong praise of the government’s performance to stabilize the Turkish economy has been interpreted as a sign that he won’t rush on naming new ministers to key positions.
That change would also include minor touches on the presidential system but without changing its general outlook.
The new party is treason: His messages to his AKP fellows addressed some former party members’ plans to form new political parties, like former President Abdullah Gül, former economy minister Ali Babacan and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. He called the efforts of his former comrades as treason and hinted a more aggressive language against them in due course. This strong statement by Erdoğan has been regarded as a warning to other AKP members who are mulling whether to join the dissident movements.
Anti-terror struggle to be expanded: Turkey’s ongoing military operations into northern Iraq will continue, Erdoğan said. The objective is to establish a security line in the region to make the PKK cease to be a threat for Turkey, he said. The only way to break the impact of the PKK’S headquarters on Kandil Mountain is to secure the area and to break the line between northern Syria and the Sinjar region of Iraq, he said.
The upcoming period will witness stronger and widened anti-terror policies, as suggested by the president, which would also have an impact on the PYD in Syria.
An incursion into the eastern Euphrates: This fight against the PKK should be considered together with Turkey’s plans to end the presence of the YPG/PYD along its border with Syria. Erdoğan’s messages on a potential military incursion into the eastern Euphrates in Syria were pretty powerful with vows to destroy the PYD’s “terror corridor” in the region. He reiterated his disappointment with the continued shipment of weapons to the PYD by the United States, a move he characterized as not fitting to the allied relationship.
S-400/F-35 crisis: President Erdoğan has repeated that Turkey will actively use the S-400s by April 2020, therefore leaving enough time for negotiations with the United States. That would also provide some time for U.S. President Donald Trump to engage in talks with Republican members of Congress and senators to waive sanctions.
“If we are your strategic partners, it’s only natural for us to expect you to behave us as a strategic partner,” Erdoğan said, calling on Washington to act with common sense.
Economy on the right track: Erdoğan has described the Central Bank’s decision to decrease interest rates by 4.25 points as a vital turning point for the future of the Turkish economy. He stressed that the decrease will continue until the end of this year, which would give a new boost for a growth-based economy.
“The recession period on our economy has ended,” he said, expressing his expectations that the figures will be much better starting from the third quarter of this year. His strong praise on monetary and economic policies has been regarded as a signal that the economic management under the leadership of Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak will remain untouched.
In conclusion, President Erdoğan’s messages indicate minor changes both on the current government system and within the AKP, but they won’t include key political priorities. Foreign policy and security-related issues will be on the top of the government’s policies in the coming period, and it’s believed that they could help President Erdoğan to reconsolidate a national unity in the post-local election era.
But, still, only time will show whether he will be able to present an “utterly different” AKP in the next elections if he remains reluctant in undertaking radical political changes and, therefore, addressing the root causes of his party’s loss of Turkey’s largest cities in the latest local elections.