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Erdogan calls for ‘unity, solidarity’ after securing another 5-year term

Ankara, Turkey | Xinhua |  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged early Monday to build the “Century of Türkiye” together with the nation and called for unity as he won the presidential runoff which would extend his tenure until 2028.

“We should come together in unity and solidarity,” he addressed supporters outside the presidential residence in the capital Ankara.

“Nobody has lost today, all 85 million won. Now is the time to unite and integrate around our national goals and national dreams … We are not the only winners. The winner is Türkiye, the winner is our nation with all its segments, our democracy is the winner,” he said, adding that he would be the president of the whole nation.

Erdogan promised to ease economic difficulties and said healing the “wounds” of the massive earthquakes on Feb. 6 would be his priority.

On addressing problems caused by inflation, he said that compensating welfare loss is the “most urgent” priority of the government and that the inflation has been slowed.

“We are planning an economy focused on financial management, investment, and employment. We will continue on the road with confidence and stability. We (will) design a manufacturing economy with an international reputation for financial management, investment, and employment,” he said.

He recalled that nearly 600,000 Syrians returned to their country and that Türkiye agreed with Qatar on cooperation for a new housing project in northern Syria, so that the government would help 1 million more Syrian refugees to go back to their homeland in a “couple of years.”

The issue of refugees was a hot topic in the election campaign of the candidates as nearly 4 million refugees hosted by Türkiye increasingly have become a politically contentious issue amid the economic difficulties of the Turkish citizens.

Turkish Supreme Election Council chairman Ahmet Yener on Sunday evening declared incumbent President Erdogan the winner of the presidential runoff.

Erdogan won 52.14 percent of votes in the presidential runoff against his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who garnered 47.86 percent of the votes, Yener said.

In the first round of the presidential election on May 14, Erdogan earned 49.52 percent of the vote while Kilicdaroglu received 44.88 percent.

Neither secured more than 50 percent of the votes needed to call a winner in the first round, therefore an election runoff was held for the first time for the presidency.

The third-place candidate, nationalist politician Sinan Ogan, with 5.17 percent of votes, announced his endorsement of Erdogan in the runoff where only the two most supported were able to race.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday congratulated Erdogan on his re-election as Turkish president, said Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a statement.

The UN chief looks forward to further strengthening the cooperation between Türkiye and the United Nations, said Dujarric.

Erdogan, who has been leading the country since he became prime minister in 2003, became the first executive president of Türkiye in 2018 following a constitutional referendum in 2017 which changed Türkiye’s parliamentary system into a presidential system.

In recent years Türkiye has increased its presence in regional affairs despite contentions with the United States and other Western allies on issues such as the Syria conflict and rapprochement with Russia.

Erdogan’s win came amid the country’s current economic troubles and cost-of-living crisis. The Turkish lira lost roughly 80 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in five years and the inflation rate is around 50 percent. Erdogan is a supporter of an unorthodox economic policy of lowering interest rates despite high inflation.

The crisis is further exacerbated by the devastating earthquakes in early February in southern Türkiye, which killed more than 50,000 people and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

In the last two weeks, the two candidates focused to appeal to nationalist votes in their campaigns. They both pledged to focus on problems regarding refugee issues and vowed to end terrorism as the May 14 results showed an increase in support for nationalist parties.

Erdogan was promising a new “Turkish century” if he is re-elected. He also stressed his presidency as a requirement for harmony among state institutions and stability in the country as his alliance held the majority at the parliament. ■

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