Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used his first speech as Turkey’s new president to outline his priorities as accession to the European Union, democratic reforms and the Kurdish peace process.
“Turkey’s path to the EU, which is a strategic target, will continue more decisively,” Erdogan said of the country’s decades old bid to join the union, addressing leaders and dignitaries from dozens of countries at the presidential palace.
At the palace Erdogan also gave a medal of honour to his predecessor Abdullah Gül, hours after being sworn in at a ceremony in parliament.
Now the work begins: Erdogan, who served three terms as prime minister, has made no secret of his wish to boost the presidency.
Euronews correspondent in Ankara Bora Bayraktar said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now officially the president. His first task is to deliver a mandate to (acting prime minister Ahmet) Davutoglu to form a government. Then he’ll try to banish the political tension which arose during the election campaign, and in his words try to be president of all Turkey’s 77 million people.”
But as well as striking that conciliatory tone, Erdogan has also vowed to fight those he accuses of trying to undermine the government.
Other tasks include trying to cope with a slowing economy and an increasingly volatile Middle East on Turkey’s borders.
No Western leader was at the inauguration. Relations soured in the last years of his premiership as Erdogan was accused of becoming ever more authoritarian.
The main opposition leader boycotted the ceremony in parliament, accusing Erdogan of acting above the law.
Another MP asked the speaker for a debate. When the request was refused, a rule book was thrown at the speaker.
Opposition MPs then left the chamber in protest at Erdogan’s refusal to step down immediately as prime minister following his election as president.
Immediately after his inauguration, Recep Tayyip Erdogan went to Ataturk’s mausoleum in Ankara to lay a wreath.
The new president is arguably the most influential Turkish leader since the man seen as the republic’s founder.