Erdoğan: Presidency a beginning, not a goodbye

Erdoğan: Presidency a beginning, not a goodbye

Erdoğan: Presidency a beginning, not a goodbye

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Turkey’s President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made it clear that he will not step back from playing the lead on the country’s political stage when he takes office at the presidential palace on Aug. 28.

Speaking to thousands of supporters at an extraordinary congress in the capital Ankara on Aug. 27, where he was set to formally hand over the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) leadership to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Erdoğan described the event as “just a beginning.”

“This is not at all meant to be a change of mission. It is just a change of name and it is never a farewell,” he said, addressing people gathered outside the Ankara Arena Sports Hall.

“I want you to know that this is a Fatiha [the opening verse of the Quran]. It is a beginning, a new beginning,” he added, underlining that he was not “saying goodbye to the people.”

“We will continue serving [the people] in the same way,” said Erdoğan, who has consistently vowed to take up an executive role in the presidential palace, not the largely ceremonial role that has so far been cast for the head of the state through the 91 years of the Republic of Turkey. 

“God willing we will give Davutoğlu the mandate to form the government tomorrow [Aug. 28], and the new Cabinet will be announced on Friday [Aug. 29],” he also said.

The president-elect was accompanied by his spouse, Emine Erdoğan, as he addressed the crowd. Later, the couple joined Davutoğlu and his spouse, Sare Davutoğlu, who had already arrived at the hall where they had listened to Erdoğan’s speech on a big screen.

Inside the hall, Erdoğan delivered an almost two-hour long speech to delegates, yet addressee of messages in his speech was not limited to the delegates. The speech was kind of retrospective of the AKP’s journey since it first came to power in 2002.

With frequent references to the party’s mission and “the AK Party cause,” Erdoğan apparently also aimed at cementing loyalty and solidarity among both the delegates and the electorate of the party in a bid to allay potential concerns over the future of the party after Davutoğlu, an academic-turned politician, takes over the official leadership.

According to Erdoğan, Davutoğlu will not veer from the goals he has set for Turkey.

“The only things that are changing today are the names,” he said. 

Still, Erdoğan felt the need to refute claims that Davutoğlu would merely do his bidding as he continues to rule Turkey from behind the scenes.

“The AK Party is not a one-man party, it never has been and never will be,” Erdoğan said.

Shaking hands

Erdoğan, who has been widely blamed for sticking to polarizing policies, recalled ethnic and sectarian diversity of the founding Parliament of 1920, and associated the AKP’s cause with the spirit of the founding Parliament.

He said he has been “extending his hand again” to all people of the country for “shaking hands, and urged leaving all disagreements and polarizations in the past.

“The AK Party government is the government of 77 million,” he added, in show of embracing the entire population of Turkey.

While referring to both the founding Parliament and the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Erdoğan also associated his party’s legacy with the 1071 Battle of Manzikert. 

“We have the same soul with those soldiers who prayed behind Sultan Alparslan in the Malazgirt plain. We have been marching since centuries,” Erdoğan said. 

The Battle of Manzikert which was fought near Manzikert (modern Malazgirt in the eastern province of Muş). The victory of the Seljuk Sultan Alparslan against the Byzantine Empire in 1071 is known as the battle that opened the gates of Anatolia to Turks.

“Although the AK Party is 13 year-old, it is actually a party which carries the legacy of a cause, a sacred marching which began centuries ago,” he said.