Recep Tayyip Erdogan took office this Saturday as president of the Republic of Turkey, which he will occupy until 2028, after two decades in power. As soon as he was invested, he made public the list of people who will form his new government. The financial portfolio will be held by Mehmet Simsek, a man respected in international financial circles. With this move Erdogan sends a signal of calm in a difficult moment for the country’s economy. The lira, the national currency, has lost 20% of its value in one year. And inflation is at 45%, although independent economists raise that percentage to 100%.
“The electoral campaign ended on May 28. Now we say: “Let us love and be loved”. We need 85 million people to stick together like bricks in a wall. We need a big hug,” Erdogan said after the inauguration. “We have earned the honor of serving the Turkish nation for another five years. I hug the 85 million, regardless of their political vision, origin, character or religion” , he added from the presidential palace.
Erdogan knows that investors won’t knock on the country’s doors if they don’t see a change in economic policy. Simsek, former finance minister between 2009 and 2015, defends an orthodox policy. His appointment marks a departure from his predecessors, who defended the theory that in a context of high inflation it was worthwhile to keep interest rates low. Simsek left politics in 2018, when Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak held the economy portfolio and the lira started to plummet.
Hakan Fidan, former head of the secret services, will be the new foreign minister of Turkey, a NATO member country that has played a mediating role between Russia and Ukraine. He replaces Mevlut Çavosuglu, until now a strong man in the Executive who has been in charge of Foreign affairs since 2015. Fidan is considered more oriented towards Russia and Asia.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, criticized by human rights organizations for his repressive policies, is also leaving office. He is replaced by the current governor of Istanbul, Ali Yerlikaya, with a less populist discourse.
Representatives from 78 countries
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The president made a brief speech in the Assembly, where he was sworn in. While MPs from his coalition rose to applaud the oath of office, those from the opposition CHP Republican People’s Party remained seated. The deputies of the leftist and pro-Kurdish Yesil Sol Parti party did not attend the ceremony.
This Saturday, the president went to the Anitkabir mausoleum, where the founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, is buried, to pay him the traditional tribute. Finally, the investiture ceremony moved to the Presidential Palace, where representatives of 78 countries, including heads of state, prime ministers and ambassadors, were waiting.
Other leaders who have come to Ankara include Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, or neighbors Ilham Aliyev, from Azerbaijan, and Nikol Pashinian, from Armenia. Both countries, in disagreement, have sought an agreement through the mediation of Turkey, a country which in the last year has notoriously achieved rapprochements with its Armenian neighbour. They have also addressed leaders such as the Pakistani Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, or the Libyan Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
Representatives of international organizations such as the Organization of Turkish States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation or the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who also went to Ankara to settle any differences on Sweden’s entry into NATO, for the green light from Turkey and Hungary are missing. In Ankara’s eyes, Finland, the latest member to join NATO, has already done its homework to win the Eurasian country’s approval in April. But Stockholm is still waiting with its eyes fixed on the summit that the Atlantic Alliance will hold in July in Vilnius (Lithuania). Stoltenberg will try these days in Ankara to unravel the negotiation.
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