Turkey on Monday evening – nearly a century after its foundation-day – adopted a new executive presidential form of government with AK Party (Justice and Development Party) chief, Recep Tayyib Erdogan, taking oath as president. He won the June 24 snap elections securing 52.6% of total votes polled which witnessed unprecedented 87% participation – a historic first in its political history.
Erdogan has been at the helm of modern day Turkey – first as Prime Minister and then as President since 2014 – since 2003 after AK Party swept 2002 election. The new form of governance structure allows Erdogan to hold the top seat of his party – which was formed after he parted ways with Saadet Party in 2000 – alongside the presidency.
"I will try to be worthy of the Turkish nation with the awareness that I am the president of 81 million Turks and not only of those who voted for me," Erdogan said in his inauguration speech. "Turkey is leaving behind a system which cost the country politically, socially and economically," he said of the new system.
After taking oath in Turkish Parliament in capital city of Ankara, the presidential inauguration ceremony was held at the Bestepe Presidential Complex at 6 pm where twenty-one presidents of different countries were present – from Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Guinea, Zambia, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, Mauritania, Gabon, Chad, Djibouti, Venezuela and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – as well as the emir of Qatar.
Russia's Dmitry Medvedev and Hungary's Viktor Orban were among the prime ministers who participated in the ceremony. EU heavyweight Germany was represented at the swearing-in ceremony by former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.
"Our people never left us alone," Erdogan told the gathering which also included 10000 people from different walks of life from 81 provinces of Turkey.
With executive presidency in vogue now, Erdogan is powerful enough to propose budget, pick-up judges, appoint ministers, dissolve parliament.
"Nothing will ever be the same in Turkey anymore," influential Daily Sabah newspaper quoted Erdogan as having said in 2001 during the inauguration ceremony of AK Party.
Soon after the oath taking ceremony, Presidential spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, wrote on Twitter: "Yeni bir sayfa açildi – Hayirli ugurlu olsun (A new page has been opened. Let it be auspicious.)
The victory of Erdogan, whose rise in Muslim world has moved the earth under the feet of regional players in Middle East, has led to disintegration of the opposition which put up a strong unity ahead of elections".
Secularist CHP, Islamist Saadet, far right IYI Party and pro-Kurdish HDP had formed an electoral alliance – Nation Alliance – but each party fielded its own presidential candidate. However, after AK Party victory, the alliance broke but Erdogan announced that his alliance with MHP – People's Alliance – will continue to work inside the Parliament as well.
The post of prime minister, which has existed for more than a millennium in the Turkish administrative system, from the Seljuk era, to the Ottoman times and the republic since 1923, has been abolished in new governance structure as the outgoing PM, Binali Yildrim, is expected to be new speaker of the Parliament.
Bureaucratic cadres will be appointed after the new ministers take office. Beside ministries, there will be a number of offices that will work under the president and will implement the presidency's projects in the new system.
The new form of government was adopted after Erdogan narrowly won a referendum in April 2017, nearly nine months after failed military coup of 2016 July.
Erdogan's rise in Turkish politics is essentially related to his Mayorship of cosmopolitan Istanbul from 1994 for four years. He is credited with clearing the debt of Istanbul Municipality and taking the common services to peoples' doors.
In its latest anti-Erdogan move, Israel has planned measures to "curb Erdogan influence" in Jerusalem, The Arab News website reported.
"Israel is looking to tighten restrictions on Turkey's international aid agency in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, in an apparent bid to counter the increasing influence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the holy city," the newspaper said adding, "Israel's National Security Council is drafting measures against the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), which operates in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip." TIKA is national relief agency of Turkey doing humanitarian work in many oppressed societies across the globe.
The development comes after Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported on July Ist that "Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority have all separately warned Israel over the past year about growing Turkish activity in East Jerusalem, which they say is part of an attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to claim ownership over the Jerusalem issue".