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Monday, June 05, 2023, 14:38
Xi commends Erdogan on election win
By Earle Gale in London and Mo Jingxi in Beijing
Monday, June 05, 2023, 14:38 By Earle Gale in London and Mo Jingxi in Beijing

World leaders hail Turkish president as he gets fresh term amid challenges

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party’s allies greet supporters at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on May 29 after victory in the second round of the presidential race. (PHOTO / REUTERS)

Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 29 congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his reelection as Turkish president, expressing his readiness to work with Erdogan to promote the sustainable, healthy and stable development of bilateral ties.

In a congratulatory message, Xi said China and Turkiye are both major developing countries and emerging market economies that share broad common interests. The two countries’ strategic cooperative relationship has maintained a momentum of development in recent years, and positive progress has been made in pragmatic cooperation in all fields, he said.

Noting that he highly values developing China’s relations with Turkiye, Xi said he is ready to work with Erdogan to understand and support each other on issues concerning their respective core interests and major concerns. 

Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, was among the other leaders to congratulate Erdogan after his reelection victory.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told the Turkish leader his win was “the logical result of your dedicated work”, according to the Kremlin website.

French President Emmanuel Macron offered his congratulations, telling Erdogan that France and Turkiye have “huge challenges to face together”.

Erdogan won 52.14 percent of votes in the presidential runoff against his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who garnered 47.86 percent of the votes. The victory on May 28 allows Erdogan to remain in power for another five years.

He will oversee a parliament in which his Justice and Development Party and its allies have a majority of seats, after the general election on May 14.

Heralding the “Century of Turkiye”, Xinhua News Agency quoted Erdogan as telling 320,000 supporters gathered outside the presidential residence in the capital Ankara: “We should come together in unity and solidarity. Nobody has lost today, all 85 million won. Now is the time to unite and integrate around our national goals and national dreams.”

Erdogan promised to immediately get to work on improving the nation’s economy, which has been blighted by inflation running at around 50 percent in recent months. The country’s economic turbulence has led to a cost-of-living crisis and the Turkish lira losing around 80 percent of its value against the US dollar in the past five years.

The Turkish leader added that he will also prioritize the rebuilding of parts of the country hit hard by massive earthquakes on Feb 6 that left more than 50,000 people dead and tens of thousands homeless.

Turkiye currently houses around 4 million refugees, and the challenge of caring for them amid the country’s economic crisis had been a politically contentious issue during the campaigning.

Erdogan also acknowledged the importance of managing migration, which became a major subject during the election and a key reason why his challenger, Kilicdaroglu, attracted enough votes to force a second-round runoff.

He said in his victory speech that around 600,000 Syrians who had fled conflict in their homeland in recent years and who had crossed the border into Turkiye had since returned home. And he noted that a new housing project in northern Syria developed by Turkiye and Qatar will ensure around 1 million more can also return home soon.

Signs of thaw in Turkiye-Syria relations were seen last year at meetings with Turkish, Syrian and Russian ministers and officials in Moscow.

Batu Coskun, an independent political risk analyst in Ankara, expects Erdogan to maintain a balance between the West and the East and keep positioning Turkiye as a regional heavyweight.

“Foreign policy-wise, I don’t expect a vast shift from the previous foreign policy before the electoral cycle began,” he said. A priority is to push for a reconciliation with Syria, he said.

In recent years, Turkiye has mended ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates following difficult regional isolation. Egypt is next in line in Turkiye’s drive, Coskun said.

In a phone call on May 29, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Erdogan agreed to “immediately” upgrade diplomatic relations between the two countries and exchange ambassadors, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.

Shao Xinying in Beijing, agencies and Xinhua contributed to this story.

Contact the writers at earle@mail.chinadailyuk.com

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