President Erdoğan to 'prioritize EU bid' after October
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan aims to focus on Turkey’s EU bid with visits to European capitals starting in October.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he is planning to carry out frequent visits to European capitals after Parliament reopens on Oct. 1, in a bid to accelerate Turkey’s European Union accession process. Erdoğan delivered his message at a meeting with the editors of pro-government media outlets on Sept. 13, as reported by columnists from these outlets on Sept. 14.
Erdoğan listed his current areas of primary concern under five titles: The new Constitution, the Kurdish resolution process, the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the EU process and foreign policy, and the fight against the "parallel state."
Writing a new Constitution and successfully accomplishing the Kurdish process are regarded as fundamental pillars of building the "new Turkey" by the president, wrote Erdal Şafak, the editor-in-chief of daily Sabah, on Sept. 14. “He feels upset about the failure to make the new Constitution during his tenure as prime minister, but is hopeful this can be done in this new era,” Şafak wrote, underlining that the president pays crucial significance to the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2015 to this end.
According to Şafak, Erdoğan believes providing legal framework for the ongoing Kurdish peace process has increased the chance of success and the determination to resolve this problem. “His wish is to see the opposition parties also contribute to the government’s work on this area,” he wrote.
EU on the priority list
One of the areas Erdoğan also prioritizes is Turkey’s foreign policy, and plans to hold his visits abroad on weekdays and his visits in Turkey during weekends. He will begin his European tour of the Baltics after Oct. 1, the opening day of the legislative year, before heading to other prominent European countries. His visit to Europe aims at accelerating Turkey's bogged-down EU accession process, as well as benefiting from Italy’s term presidency, which will end Dec. 31, 2014. Italy is in favor of Turkey's EU bid.
Erdoğan will also visit a number of African countries and will attend a summit between African countries and Turkey; he will then visit Latin American countries in a bid to seek votes for Turkey’s ongoing bid to be elected to temporary membership of the U.N. Security Council.
The president will also attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York on Sept. 21-26, where he is expected to once again meet U.S. President Barack Obama and other top leaders regarding the international community’s endeavor to destroy ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria.
Fight against ISIL
On the fight against ISIL, Erdoğan and other Turkish leaders have held top-level meetings over the last week and expressed their concerns that a potential Turkish contribution could put the lives of 49 Turkish hostages in danger. According to daily Sabah's columnist Şafak, Erdoğan believes that “those who want to score points in the international arena cannot ignore Turkey’s sensitivities.”
The president underlines that efforts to save the 49 Turkish citizens held hostage by ISIL have been carried out with patience until now and will continue in the same fashion, calling on the opposition parties to do the same.
Parallel structure on agenda
Erdoğan’s immediate agenda also includes the fight against the “parallel structure,” especially ahead of key elections at the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The president believes the elections will result in the removal from the judiciary of sympathizers of the Gülen community, which he views as a national security problem for Turkey. He is also continuing in his efforts to call on U.S. officials to deport Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.