Erdogan Decrees 'Turkish Century'

Beginning another term, leader promises new constitution
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2023 3:15 PM CDT
Erdogan Decrees 'Turkish Century'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, visits the Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in Ankara on Saturday.   (Yavuz Ozden/DIA Images via AP)

Turkey's longtime leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took the oath of office on Saturday, ushering in his third presidential term that followed three stints as prime minister. Erdogan, 69, won a new five-year term in a runoff presidential race last week that could stretch his 20-year rule in the key NATO country that straddles Europe and Asia into a quarter-century, the AP reports. The country of 85 million controls NATO's second-largest army, hosts millions of refugees and played a crucial role in brokering a deal that allowed the shipment of Ukraine grain across the Black Sea, averting a global food crisis.

The republic will celebrate its centennial in October, so presiding over a new "Turkish century" became an important campaign slogan for Erdogan. He hailed "the start of the Turkish century, a new period of glory for our country" during his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace on Saturday. "I invite all 81 provinces to come together in fraternity. Let us leave behind the resentments of the campaign. Let us find a way to make up for hurt feelings. Let's all work together to build the Turkish century," he said. He also expressed his intention to introduce a new constitution, saying: "We will liberate our democracy from the present constitution produced by (the 1980) military coup, and strengthen it with a freedom-promoting, civilian and inclusive constitution."

Dozens of foreign dignitaries attended the inauguration, including NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, which followed a swearing-in in parliament. Supporters waited outside in heavy rain, covering Erdogan's car with red carnations as he arrived. From there, a procession of cavalry in blue uniforms escorted the president's convoy to the inauguration ceremony. All eyes are on the announcement of his new Cabinet later on Saturday; its lineup should indicate whether there will be a continuation of unorthodox economic policies or a return to more conventional ones during a cost-of-living crisis. Erdogan is already Turkey's longest-serving leader. He has solidified his rule through constitutional changes that transformed the presidency from a largely ceremonial role to a powerful office. Erdogan defeated opposition challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu in a runoff vote held on May 28.

(More Turkey stories.)

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