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Turkey’s Erdogan Makes Victory Speech: the Breakdown

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters after his presidential election victory, in Ankara, Turkey on Sunday.
Associated Press

As Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan swept to a landslide victory in Turkey’s first directly-elected presidential poll, he delivered his now familiar victory speech from the balcony of his party headquarters in Ankara.

For the twelve years that Mr. Erdogan has governed Turkey, his balcony speeches have offered signals on the future direction of policy and been poured over by analysts. While the Presidential election campaign was marked by harsh rhetoric, Mr. Erdogan softened tone for his victory speech calling on Turks to embrace “the New Turkey”, and “to leave the old quarrels in the Old Turkey”.

Apart from calling for unity, here are some of the key messages and quotes from Mr. Erdogan’s speech.

  • Turkey’s active Middle East oriented foreign policy will continue, as mapped by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “Not only Turkey, today also Islamabad, Erbil, Beirut, Sarajevo, Skopje, Hama, Homs, Ramallah, Gaza, Jerusalem, have all won,” Mr. Erdogan said.
  • He will be a strong and active president, with a mandate he says was derived from the direct votes of the citizens, either by active personal day-to-day involvement in daily politics, or by changing the constitution. “With the President elected directly by the citizens, all barriers between the people and Cankaya (Presidential palace) have been removed. Cankaya and the people have become one.” In the current system, Parliament represents the popular will, and the president is the symbolic head of the state.
  • Mr. Erdogan signaled that he will try again to push through a new constitution to replace the one drafted by leaders of the 1980 military coup, calling for the opposition to revise its obstructionist style and work together to draft changes. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t come up with a new constitution. Why? Because no compromise could be reached,” Mr. Erdogan said, stressing that despite a crushing AKP-majority in the Parliament, his party – and opposition parties – had an equal number of members on the committee to draft the new constitution.
  • Mr. Erdogan signaled that the Kurdish peace process will continue and that he will push to enshrine key demands of the Kurds in the constitution. The government has been running peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which fought against the Turkish state for the past three decades until the recent ceasefire. Some of the hardest demands for the opposition to digest regard provisions in the current Turkish constitution stating that Turkish is the sole official language of Turkey and that all citizens are Turks, referring to the dominant ethnic group in the country. In Erdogan’s speech, he emphasized that all citizens were “Turkiyeli” – meaning citizens of Turkey rather than “Turks”, referring to the ethnic term.

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(via WSJ Blogs)