Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sworn in as Turkey’s 12th President on Aug. 28, after 12 years of prime ministry, further strengthening his position as the most powerful leader of the country.
Erdoğan read the presidential oath before the Turkish Parliament before taking his seat from Abdullah Gül, in a splendid handover ceremony with the participation of leaders from more than 90 countries.
“In my capacity as president I swear upon my honor and integrity before the Turkish Grand National Assembly and before history to safeguard the existence and independence of the State, the indivisible integrity of the country and the Nation and the absolute sovereignty of the Nation….,” read Erdoğan in his oath. The oath obliges presidents to abide by the constitution, the rule of law, democracy and the principles of the secular republic.
Erdoğan was elected to the presidency by the people’s direct vote on Aug. 10 as he got 52 percent of votes, leaving his contenders behind. Since the completion of presidential elections, he was heavily preoccupied for shaping the new management of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the next government. The presidential handover ceremony took place just a day after he left the AKP leadership to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
The first venue of half-day long ceremonies was the Parliament. Erdoğan and his family members were welcomed by Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek who read the minutes that officially announced the country’s 12th president. The General Assembly was full of AKP lawmakers, sympathizers and Erdoğan’s family members as well as the military echelon, representatives of diplomatic missions.
However, seats reserved to foreign diplomats were occupied by spouses of some lawmakers, Erdoğan’s special invitees, bureaucrats as well as prime ministry advisor Yusuf Yerkel who became a worldwide known celebrity after his pictures kicking a relative of Soma mine tragedy in April hit the front pages of the world media, another controversial advisor Yiğit Bulut, Erdoğan’s brother Mustafe Erdoğan, famous advertiser of the AKP Erol Olçak, sports commentator Rıdvan Dilmen and etc.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the People’s Democracy Party (HDP) were also present at the ceremony while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) boycotted Erdoğan’s sworn in.
“We are living the joy and sadness at the same time,” said Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz while expressing the common feeling of the AKP group.
Visiting Atatürk’s tomb
Second address of the handover ceremonies was the mausoleum of Atatürk, Anıtkabir, the founder of the modern republic. Erdoğan laid a wreath on Atatürk’s tomb and showed his respect before writing his message to the Anıtkabir Special Book. “Beloved Atatürk; I take over as the Republic’s 12th President and the first directly elected president. After your death, the bond between the office of the presidency and the people was weakened. I believe that the tenure I start today is a means for the people to embrace their president and for the state to embrace its nation,” he wrote.
A long convoy to Çankaya Palace
The long convoy of President Erdoğan and his wife, Emine Erdoğan, arrived at the Çankaya Palace in a nearly 20-minutes long drive which was greeted by the people’s along the route. Carrying Turkish flags and shouting slogans in favor of Erdoğan, thousands of people cheered over the new president. “Çankaya is much more beautiful with you,” read a placard while Erdoğan’s convoy entered into the presidential compound.
Gül hands over his seat to Erdoğan
The dramatic handover ceremony took place at the Çankaya Palace late afternoon as 11th President Abdullah Gül and his wife, Hayrünnisa Gül, met with their successors, President Erdoğan and First Lady Emine Erdoğan. The Erdoğan couple was welcomed through the country’s highest level ceremony as the military fired a 21-gun salute in the honor of the new president. After a behind-doors meeting between Gül and Erdoğan families, the former and new presidents delivered short speeches to the crowded participants.
“I feel honor in handing my position to President Erdoğan, a friend of mine over the last 40 years. This is why today’s ceremony has a special importance,” Gül said in his highly emotional speech. Recalling that they founded the AKP together with Erdoğan 14 years ago and they served together to make Turkey a more powerful and prosperous country, Gül stressed that the country will make new records of success under the leadership of Erdoğan.
Special thanks to Ms. Gül
Gül thanked to everyone who worked with him but presented special thanks to his wife Hayrünnisa Gül over her support to him over the years even during difficult times. Hayrünnisa Gül recently expressed her disturbance over the attacks against her husband aiming at nixing his ambitions to return to the active politics.
“They think as if we do not read anything, do not hear anything, are not aware of anything. So far I have stayed silent, but that won’t last for too long. I will start speaking up, perhaps I will be the one to start an intifada,” recently told Hayrünnisa Gül, making the headlines of newspapers.
Erdoğan’s first address as the President
After Gül, Erdoğan took the floor to make his first speech as the president. Describing himself as the first head of nation elected by the people in the 2000 years of Turkish history, Erdoğan said today was the beginning of a new era in Turkey. “I want to express my proud for it and also my conscious about my growing responsibility,” Erdoğan said.
Reiterating that he worked in full harmony and coordination with Gül during his seven years of presidency Erdoğan stressed “I have to tell you that I will continue to benefit from his experience and his ideas afterwards.”
In the second part of his address, Erdoğan vowed that he will continue to work to make Turkey a more democratic and prosperous country and gave some hints from his foreign policy understanding.
“The main axis of our foreign policy is peace, solidarity and welfare. Turkey doesn’t have an eye on any country’s territories or their internal issues. We don’t have any plans or project like that,” he added. He also added that Turkey’s path to EU membership will continue.
After the speeches President Erdoğan presented a State Medal of Distinguished Service to Gül as he received the presidential flag from outgoing president.
As the ceremony ended Erdoğan bid farewell to Gül as 11th President and his wife departed from the Çankaya Palace.
Leaders from all over the
Following the departure of Gül’s family from the Çankaya Palace, Erdoğan hosted his foreign guests first at a reception and then at a dinner.