Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the Republic of Turkey's 12th president

Fri, 29.08.2014 14:47

KYIV/Ukraine in Arabic/ Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken the presidential oath of office to become the Republic of Turkey’s 12th president.

"In my capacity as president of the republic, I swear upon my honor and reputation before the great Turkish nation and before history to safeguard the existence and independence of the state," Erdogan said, reading the oath of office on Thursday.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies requested a debate on procedures as Parliament began its extraordinary session to witness Erdogan's swearing-in. But Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek, a deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), dismissed the request, saying he cannot “interrupt such a meaningful day” with a debate on procedures.

One CHP deputy was seen throwing a parliamentary regulations booklet at Cicek in protest of his decision, which the CHP says violated those very regulations. The CHP deputies then walked out of Parliament.

Engin Altay, the CHP deputy who threw the booklet at Cicek, defended his outburst, saying that Cicek had “disrespected the will of Parliament.”

Following the oath-taking ceremony at Parliament, Erdoğan headed to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the Turkish Republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to pay his respects.

“Today, I take over as Turkey's 12th president, the first to be elected by direct vote of the people,” Erdogan wrote in Anitkabir's guestbook. He lamented that links between the people and the presidential palace had grown weaker following Atatürk's demise. He said that today, the day the first president elected by popular vote has taken office, “Turkey is reborn from its ashes” and the “construction of new Turkey gains momentum.”

Deputies of other opposition parties, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), stayed at Parliament during Erdogan's oath-taking, but refused to applaud after Erdogan finished taking the oath. AK Party deputies enthusiastically applauded and rushed to congratulate Erdogan following his swearing-in.

In a press meeting the CHP's Altay held in Parliament, together with a group of CHP deputies -- after leaving the hall in which Erdogan took his oath -- he maintained that the Constitution was blatantly violated by Erdogan, who refused to resign as prime minister and chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) after being officially announced as president by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) two weeks ago. “Nobody is above the law and will [never] be,” he stressed.

According to the Constitution, when a person is elected president, he or she has to resign from his post within the government and cut off ties with his or her political party to achieve impartiality as president in one's relations with all political parties.

Altay also accused Cemil Cicek, speaker of Parliament, of acting under instructions by Erdogan by refusing to allow Altay to have the floor before the oath-taking ceremony. “The Parliament speaker has spoiled the Parliament bylaw [by not respecting it],” he said.

Erdogan won the presidential election on Aug. 10 with 51.7 percent of the vote. He will be succeeded at the Prime Ministry by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was elected AK Party chairman at an extraordinary congress of the party on Wednesday. Erdogan earlier said he would assign Davutoglu to form a new government following his inauguration on Thursday.

Late in the afternoon, following the visit of Anitkabir, Erdogan went to the presidential palace to take over the post from Abdullah Gul, the outgoing president. Gul, who, despite being one of the founders of the AK Party was excluded from the party by Erdogan, had difficulty smiling when he, accompanied by his wife, met Erdogan and his wife at the entrance to the presidential palace.

Foreign dignitaries from about 90 countries as well as a large audience attended the presidential handover ceremony at the presidential palace. In his short speech, Gul praised Erdoğan's leadership qualities and his sensitivity regarding fairness and rightness, which might be interpreted more like a veiled reproach to Erdoğan, although Gül addressed Erdoğan as "my brother" in his speech.

Erdoğan, on his part, made reference to old and new Turkeys in his speech, which was comparatively much longer than that of Gul's. Noting that the AK Party governments in the past 12 years have carried out very important reforms, Erdogan said, “The election of president by popular vote actually stands for the end of a period [in Turkey].”

The period which has been closed is that of the old Turkey in which gangs were active, politics were under tutelage, Erdogan said. 

In his speech in which Erdogan said Turkey would continue with democratization steps, he described the EU as a strategic target for the country despite Turkey's souring relations with the EU in the past couple of years. 

Following the speeches, Gul was awarded the state's medal of honor by Erdogan. Gül and his wife, Hayrünnissa, was seen off by Erdogan and his wife, Emine, with a military ceremony.

Guests at the presidential office were invited to a reception after Erdogan saw Gul and his wife off.


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