Erdoğan proves to be a ‘sweating president’ in first 100 days in office

Erdoğan proves to be a ‘sweating president’ in first 100 days in office

Deniz Zeyrek ANKARA
Erdoğan proves to be a ‘sweating president’ in first 100 days in office

Turkish President Erdoğan arrives for a welcoming ceremony during the visit of Russian President Putin (not pictured) at the controversial new presidential palace in Ankara. REUTERS Photo

As his first 100 days in office show, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has certainly lived up to his words of being a “sweating president,” as he had claimed before he was voted in as Turkey’s first ever directly elected president in August.

“Will you be head of the public and sit back? Such a thing is not possible. I will be a sweating president,” Erdoğan had said at rallies prior to the election, and having been sworn in as the 12th president of the Turkish Republic on Aug. 28, he has been true to his word.

Speaking at a meeting of the Anatolian business group (ASKON) in Istanbul on Nov. 6, his 101st day in office, Erdoğan said he had “not been and would not be an ordinary president.”

Erdoğan had defined foreign policy and foreign trade as two of his top priorities as president, and he has hosted a number of foreign representatives and made official visits abroad so far.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visits to Erdoğan stand out as the most important visits from abroad.

Pope Francis became the first ever foreign head of state to visit the contentious new “Ak Saray” presidential palace. The colloquial name of the new palace refers to the first part of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) name, stirring debate about alleged attempts to “partify” the Turkish state. Erdoğan was an AKP founder in 2001 and was its official head until he was elected president this year.

Erdoğan has so far visited Azerbaijan, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, France, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Algeria and Equatorial Guinea during his first 100 days as head of state.

In addition to his very busy formal schedule, the president has also made headlines with a series of unexpected and controversial remarks, in stark contrast with any of his predecessors.

In a Nov. 24 speech, Erdoğan declared that men and women could not be considered equal by society, claiming that this would be “against nature” because the “fundamental qualities” of men and women are different.

He also claimed that Muslims had discovered the American continent 300 years before Christopher Columbus, and that Columbus himself had written in his sailing diaries about seeing a mosque Cuba.

Last but not least, speaking in a televised speech at a university in Istanbul Nov. 13, Erdoğan inveighed against “modern Lawrences of Arabia,” who he claimed were “disguised as journalists, religious men, writers and terrorists,” and were stirring trouble in the Middle East.