ANKARA — After securing a historic third term as the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday pledged to build the “Century of Turkey” together with the nation and called for unity and solidarity.
The 69-year-old won Sunday’s presidential runoff which will now extended his tenure until 2028, reports Xinhua news agency.
“We should come together in unity and solidarity,” he addressed supporters outside the presidential residence in the capital Ankara.
“Nobody has lost today, all 85 million won. Now is the time to unite and integrate around our national goals and national dreams … We are not the only winners. The winner is Turkey, the winner is our nation with all its segments, our democracy is the winner,” he said, adding that he would be the president of the whole nation.
Erdogan promised to ease economic difficulties and said healing the “wounds” of the massive earthquakes on February 6 would be his priority.
On addressing problems caused by inflation, he said that compensating welfare loss is the “most urgent” priority of the government and that the inflation has been slowed.
“We are planning an economy focused on financial management, investment, and employment. We will continue on the road with confidence and stability. We (will) design a manufacturing economy with an international reputation for financial management, investment, and employment,” he said.
He recalled that nearly 600,000 Syrians returned to their country and that Turkey agreed with Qatar on cooperation for a new housing project in northern Syria, so that the government would help 1 million more refugees to return to their homeland in a “couple of years”.
The refugee issue was a hot topic in the election campaign of the candidates as nearly 4 million refugees hosted by Turkey increasingly have become a politically contentious issue amid the economic difficulties of the Turkish citizens.
Turkish Supreme Election Council chairman Ahmet Yener on Sunday evening declared Erdogan the winner of the presidential runoff.
Erdogan won 52.14 per cent of votes in the presidential runoff against his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who garnered 47.86 pe rcent of the votes, Yener said.
In the first round of the presidential election on May 14, Erdogan earned 49.52 per cent of the vote while Kilicdaroglu received 44.88 per cent.
Neither secured more than 50 per cent of the votes needed to call a winner in the first round, therefore an election runoff was held for the first time in the nation’s history.
The third-place candidate, nationalist politician Sinan Ogan, with 5.17 per cent of votes, announced his endorsement of Erdogan in the runoff where only the two most supported were able to race.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday congratulated Erdogan on his re-election.
Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the UN chief looks forward to further strengthening the cooperation between Turkey and the world body.
Erdogan, who has been leading the country since he became prime minister in 2003, became the first executive president of Turkey in 2018 following a constitutional referendum in 2017 which changed the country’s parliamentary system into a presidential system.
Erdogan’s win came amid the country’s current economic troubles and cost-of-living crisis.
The Turkish lira lost roughly 80 per cent of its value against the US dollar in five years and the inflation rate is around 50 per cent.
Erdogan is a supporter of an unorthodox economic policy of lowering interest rates despite high inflation.
The crisis is further exacerbated by the devastating earthquakes in early February in southern Turkey, which killed more than 50,000 people and left tens of thousands of people homeless.
In the last two weeks, the two candidates focused to appeal to nationalist votes in their campaigns.
They both pledged to focus on problems regarding refugee issues and vowed to end terrorism as the May 14 results showed an increase in support for nationalist parties.
Erdogan was promising a new “Turkish century” if he is re-elected.
He also stressed his presidency as a requirement for harmony among state institutions and stability in the country as his alliance held the majority in Parliament. — IANS