The president now sits at the top of a vertical power structure marked by a slimmed-down government with 16 ministries instead of 26 and multiple bodies reporting to him
Ankara (AFP) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday took on greater powers than any Turkish leader for decades as he was sworn in for a second presidential term, under a new system denounced by opponents as a one man regime.
Erdogan, who has transformed Turkey in 15 years of rule, described the change as a “new beginning” in the country’s history and vowed to be the president of all 81 million Turks.
He took his oath in parliament for a new five-year term after his June election victory, followed by a ceremony at the presidential palace attended by dozens of world leaders marking the transition to the new executive presidency system.
“We will work to be deserving of not just those who voted for us but the 81 million,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey had paid a “heavy price” with its old system of government.
Erdogan will face immediate challenges posed by an imbalanced if fast-growing economy and foreign policy tensions between the West and Turkey, a NATO member.
He has also pledged to end the state of emergency that has been in place since the failed July 2016 coup and which has seen the biggest purge in the history of modern Turkey.
One day ahead of the inauguration, 18,632 public sector employees were ordered dismissed, including thousands of soldiers and police officers in a new crackdown.
Seeking to counter his critics, Erdogan vowed that “in the new period, Turkey will go much further in terms of democratic fundamentals, rights, freedom and economic investment.”
“We have come not to be master but to be servant of our people,” he added.
- ‘One-man regime’ -
This hand out picture by the Turkish President's Office shows Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waving as he arrives at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) to take the oath of office in Ankara for his second term
The new system, which dispenses with the office of prime minister, was agreed in a bitterly fought 2017 referendum narrowly won by the “Yes” camp. The issue is still polarising in Turkey.
“A partisan one-man regime starts officially today,” said the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper.
But the pro-government daily Yeni Safak wrote under the headline “historic day”: “One page is closing in Turkish history and a new page is opening.”
The president now sits at the top of a vertical power structure marked by a slimmed-down government with 16 ministries instead of 26 and multiple bodies reporting to him.
In one of the most significant changes, the EU affairs ministry, set up in 2011 to oversee Turkey’s faltering bid to join the bloc, is being subsumed into the foreign ministry.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim now goes down in history as the 27th and final holder of the post in Turkey. He is expected to become speaker of the new parliament.
- ‘Leader of multi-polar world’ -
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will go down in history as the 27th and final holder of a post that has existed since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey, and whose origins date back to the Ottoman Empire
The transition ceremony was overshadowed by a deadly train derailment in northwest Turkey on Sunday that killed 24 people and injured hundreds. Erdogan said that folk dancing and a laser show had been cancelled as a result.
Those attending included Ankara’s top allies from Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union but relatively few European figures.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was present, in a new sign of the warm ties between Ankara and Moscow, as was Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, regarded with disdain by Washington but an ally of Erdogan.
In a tweet, Maduro hailed Erdogan as a “friend of Venezuela and leader of the new multi-polar world.”
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was on the guest list as well as Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar, Turkey’s closest ally in the Middle East.
The only EU leaders present were Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and Hungary’s strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban, according to state media.
- ‘Surprise cabinet’ -
Reports have said current Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu may lose his job to his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, or even spy chief Hakan Fidan
The new cabinet, due to be announced at 1830 GMT, is expected to have a different look, with pro-government Hurriyet daily columnist Abdulkadir Selvi saying that it was set to “surprise” with figures from outside the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Current Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu could in theory continue in his job but reports have said Erdogan may choose his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, or even spy chief Hakan Fidan to succeed him.
The markets are keeping a close eye on economic appointments, keen to see a steady hand at the helm in a fast-growing economy dogged by double-digit inflation and a widening current account deficit.
The AKP failed to win a majority in legislative elections and will need support from its allies in the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) which could push it into more hardline policies.
Erdogan will this week immediately turn to foreign policy, visiting northern Cyprus and Azerbaijan followed by more challenging encounters at a NATO summit in Brussels where he will meet US President Donald Trump and other leaders.