Turkey’s longest-serving leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took the oath of office on Saturday, beginning his third presidential term, followed by three terms as prime minister. Erdogan, 69, last week won a new five-year term in a runoff presidential race that could extend his 20-year rule in the key NATO country that spans Europe and Asia by a quarter century. The country of 85 million controls Nato’s second largest army, hosts millions of refugees and was instrumental in brokering a deal allowing Ukraine grain shipments, averting a global food crisis.
Erdogan was sworn in during a session of parliament ahead of an inauguration ceremony at his sprawling palace complex. Supporters waited outside Parliament despite heavy rain, covering his car with red carnations upon his arrival. All eyes are on the announcement of his new cabinet later on Saturday. Its lineup should give an indication of whether there will be a continuation of unorthodox economic policies or a return to more traditional ones amid the cost-of-living crisis.
NATO chief will attend the program
Dozens of foreign dignitaries are traveling to attend the ceremony, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt. He is expected to press Erdogan to lift his country’s objections to Sweden’s membership in the military alliance – which requires unanimous approval by all allies. Turkey has accused Sweden of being too soft on Kurdish militants and other groups Turkey considers terrorists. NATO wants to bring Sweden into the alliance by the time allied leaders meet in Lithuania on July 11-12, but Turkey and Hungary have not yet backed the bid. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will also attend the ceremony.
Other leaders in attendance included Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia, Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan and Abdul Hamid Dabibah of Libya, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Türkiye is facing a crisis of livelihood
Erdogan took the oath amid further domestic challenges, including a battered economy, pressure for the repatriation of millions of Syrian refugees and the need to rebuild after a devastating earthquake in February that killed 50,000 people and leveled entire cities in the country’s south. was levelled. , Turkey is grappling with an inflation-driven cost-of-living crisis, which hit an astonishing 85% in October before easing to 44% last month. The Turkish currency has lost more than 10% of its value against the dollar since the beginning of the year.
Critics blame the turmoil on Erdogan’s policy of lowering interest rates to spur growth, which runs contrary to traditional economic thinking that calls for raising rates to combat inflation. Unconfirmed media reports say Erdogan plans to reappoint respected former finance minister and deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek at the helm of the economy. The move would signal a return by the country – which is the world’s 19th largest economy according to the World Bank – to more conservative economic policies.
Erdogan becomes Turkey’s longest serving leader
In power as prime minister and then as president since 2003, Erdogan is already Turkey’s longest-serving leader. He has consolidated his rule through constitutional changes that transformed Turkey’s presidency from a largely ceremonial role into a powerful office. Critics say his second decade in office was marred by sharp democratic backsliding, including the erosion of institutions such as the media and the judiciary, and the jailing of opponents and critics.
Erdogan defeated opposition challenger Kemal Kilikdaroglu in a runoff vote on 28 May, after he narrowly won outright in the first round of voting on 14 May. Kilicdaroglu promised to lead Turkey on a more democratic path and to improve Turkey’s relations with the West. International observers considered the elections free but not fair.
(with inputs from AP)