• Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Erdogan as president

Editorial: Dawn (Pakistan)

RECEP Tayyip Erdogan has reason to be jubilant. Enjoying his third term in a row as prime minister, Mr. Erdogan will, on August 28, assume office as Turkey's first directly elected president after he convincingly defeated his two rivals in the first round of Sunday's election.

Charges he used government machinery for his campaign may or may not be true, but there is no doubt Mr. Erdogan's political and economic achievements make him one of the most influential leaders in the region.

Political stability stemming from three consecutive electoral victories since 2002, the booming economy, and the peace agreement with Kurdish militants have transformed Turkey into the world's seventeenth and Europe's sixth biggest economy.

Now Ankara is playing a more active role in the region, and even though there is little possibility that Turkey will be admitted to the European Union as a full member it was Mr. Erdogan who convinced the EU to begin entry negotiations.

Perhaps his biggest achievement has been the way he established civilian supremacy by taming the Turkish army, which had toppled four elected governments and hanged a prime minister.

Deriving confidence from poll victories that enabled him to form a single-party government thrice, Mr. Erdogan, unlike his mentor Necmettin Erbekan who attempted to rush through reforms like former president Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, avoided a clash with the army, the self-proclaimed guardian of Ataturk's secular legacy.

Publicly accepting Turkey's secular character, Mr. Erdogan proceeded cautiously: he stripped the National Security Council of its military character and now feels confident enough to try army officers, including a former president and army chief, for treason.

Charges of corruption against his ministers and the Taksim trouble gave him anxious moments, but he has been able to weather the storm. Now he wants to amend the constitution on the lines of the French model to give the president more powers.

This move has raised fears in some quarters that greater powers as president will contribute to the authoritarian streak in him.

© Dawn. All rights reserved. Reprinted by arrangement with Asia News Network.

Published: 12:00 am Saturday, August 16, 2014

TAGS: prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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