Ankara, Nov 10 () - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has maintained that the Nov. 1 snap elections have ushered in four years of stability and called for reforms, including the making of a new constitution.
“The Nov. 1 elections have opened a four-year-long period of stability and confidence for Turkey. Let’s turn this period into a period along which reforms are implemented in a way that would meet our country’s and our nation’s needs, with a new constitution being first, at the highest level,” Erdoğan said on Nov. 10, at a ceremony in Ankara to commemorate Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, on the 77th anniversary of his death.
“Let’s not hesitate discussing anything. It is our nation who will eventually make the decision as a requirement of the republic and democracy. Let’s trust the nation. As politicians and rulers of this country, let’s fulfill our duty and leave the final decision to our nation,” Erdoğan said at the ceremony, which was also attended by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
Last week, the presidential spokesperson for Erdoğan, who is the founding leader of the AKP, said after the election on Nov. 1 that an issue such as transitioning to the presidential system couldn’t be decided without the nation’s support and if a referendum were needed, then one would be held.
In the Nov. 1 snap election, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Davutoğlu regained the parliamentary majority it lost on June 7, winning 317 of 550 seats - only 13 short of the number needed to call such a referendum.
“While defending the republic, we can leave aside neither the Ottomans nor the Seljuks. Our power comes from here anyway. We are not a tribe state. Of course, we will claim our last state, our republic in full strength. With the anniversary of the republic, we should also congratulate with enthusiasm the anniversary of our state’s presence in these territories. From now on, it is time to lift barriers concerning our history, our nation and our civilization. There cannot be any regression concerning the republic. In the same way, even a tiny doubt or threat concerning democracy, human rights and principles of rule of law is out of question.
There cannot be any regression on this issue either,” Erdoğan said.
“We understand the sensitivities and concerns [that existed] during the first period of the republic. We should also acknowledge that a lot of the practices which stemmed from these concerns extended the process of … strengthening the republic. But now, we should leave these behind. The Republic of Turkey has realized the biggest successes in its 92-year-long history during the last 13 years,” Erdoğan added, referring to the AKP’s period of rule since 2002, during which Erdoğan served as prime minister from early 2003 until he was elected as president in a popular vote in August 2014.
“Did our republic experience any tiny loss during this period? Somebody should prove this. If so, we should drop concerns over the regime from our agenda now,” the president said.
He is widely believed to want to rule as a more powerful, U.S.-style president by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the secular republic, rivaling Atatürk as the most powerful modern Turkish leader.
As of Nov. 10, the European Union’s executive body, the European Commission, released its progress report on the full membership candidate and criticized Turkey for a series of flaws in its respect for human rights and democratic standards.
In an annual report to prepare for possible Turkish membership, the EU said “the pace of reforms slowed down” on political issues, adding that some key legislation “ran against European standards.”
The full report, obtained by The Associated Press, also said “major shortcomings remain” when it comes to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The release of the report had been delayed so as not to influence elections last week. The EU needs Turkey to deal with the migrant crisis since is it a key nation on the way between Syria and the European heartland where migrants have sought shelter.