Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in for a third term as president on Saturday, promising to serve “impartially” after winning a historic runoff election to extend his two-decade rule.
Erdogan called for unity and the anger and resentment of the campaign to be set aside as he spoke during a lavish ceremony at his presidential palace in the capital Ankara attended by dozens of world leaders.
Turkiye’s transformative leader won the May 28 runoff against a powerful opposition coalition, despite an economic crisis and a February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.
Erdogan won 52.18% of the vote while his secular rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu scored 47.82%, official results show.
“As president, I swear upon my honour and integrity, before the great Turkish nation... to work with all my power to protect the existence and independence of the state... and to fulfil my duty impartially,” Erdogan said in parliament after a ceremony outside the building where he saluted soldiers under pouring rain.
Supporters in parliament gave Erdogan a minute-long standing ovation after his swearing in, while some opposition lawmakers refused to stand up.
In his oath, Erdogan also promised not to deviate from the rule of law and the secular principles of the republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 100 years ago.
Turkiye’s longest-serving leader, who has survived a failed coup attempt since he came to power in 2003, now faces significant immediate challenges in his third term, including the slowing economy and tensions with the West.
“From a geopolitical point of view, the election will reinforce Turkiye’s recent pursuit of an independent foreign policy,” said Matt Gertken, chief geopolitical strategist at BCA Research.
“This policy aims to extract maximum economic and strategic benefits from eastern states while still preventing a permanent rupture in relations with western democracies,” he said.
“Tensions with the West will likely increase again,” Gertken added. Erdogan, standing next to his wife Emine, promised to embrace all segments of society during the ceremony at his palace after visiting Ataturk’s mausoleum.
“We will embrace all 85mn people, regardless of their political views, origins, creeds or sects,” he said, hoping that his appeal would be reciprocated also by his opponents.
“Turkiye needs unity and solidarity more than ever,” he said.
“We want all opposition segments, including journalists, writers, civil society, artists and politicians, to reconcile with the national will,” he said.
“If there is resentment, if hearts are broken, let’s find a way to make peace.”
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Iran’s vice-president Mohamed Mokhber, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, were among the foreign guests at the ceremony.
In the latest sign of a thaw between the two arch foes, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was also present.
Addressing the country’s economic troubles will be Erdogan’s first priority, with inflation running at 43.70%.
“Erdogan’s government looks like it will pursue an orthodox stabilisation programme,” said Alp Erinc Yeldan, professor of economics at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.
Turkiye’s new members of parliament were sworn in on Friday.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greet guests during his oath-taking ceremony at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on Saturday. (AFP)