The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) needs radical changes, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, commenting on efforts that will be carried out for the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Change is a natural phenomenon for the AKP, which was founded to meet the demands for change in Turkey,” Erdoğan said at an event marking the 16th anniversary of the AKP in Ankara’s Sincan district on Aug. 14, adding that the party went through changes since its foundation in all of its levels, but this time it needs “much more radical changes.”
“For Turkey’s stability, the reputation of the state and the happiness of the people, we have been aiming at 50 percent [of votes]. We actually set this aim exactly 16 years ago. Now, for the 2019 elections, we add only one voter to this goal, meaning 50 percent plus one,” he said, while calling on party members to “go from door to door” to canvass votes above 50 percent.
Saying the party will continue with “the successful friends,” Erdoğan noted that there are those who are ready to transfer their duties to others.
“We need to work with some of our friends who made important services to our party for years in different platforms. With that being said, we already know that some of our friends are ready to transfer their duties out of tiredness and weariness as a result of years of working,” he added.
During his speech, Erdoğan said those with connections to terrorist groups, mainly the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), need to be kept away from the party.
“To keep them away is the prior duty of all of us. We can’t allow any slackness on this issue,” he stressed.
Saying that reshuffles in the AKP cadres will be finished by February 2018, Erdoğan noted that “this can’t be seen as a “discharging move.”
“This is a new process. Changing of duties is absolutely natural in this service path that we see as a relay race,” he said, adding that the party has 11 million members, but aims to double it by 2019.
“I’m calling on our 11 million members from Ankara’s Sincan. Are you ready to double this number by 2019? You should know that when we double this number, fate will be different,” he added.
Erdoğan also challenged those who are willing to compete with the AKP.
“If there are those who can compete with us in continuing the struggle and services then they should come out. Politics is a field of contest,” he said.
The president added that the completion of the 2023 goals would crown the AKP’s achievements, referring to Turkey’s vision for 2023, which marks the centenary of the Turkish Republic.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, also speaking at the event, said the AKP is a “unity movement” following the path of the Seljuks, Ottomans and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
“Our path is the contemporary civilization path of Veteran Mustafa Kemal Pasha. We have no other ideal other than broadening, protecting and securing it. Turkey will be among the world’s most developed countries with democracy, justice and freedoms,” Yıldırım said, adding that the party will continue to serve without making concessions regarding “democracy and freedoms.”
Touching upon Erdoğan’s previous comments on some party members experiencing “metal fatigue,” Yıldırım said that “it’s similar to a spring fatigue.”
“From time to time you talk about metal fatigue in our groups. I believe that it will be as short as a spring fatigue. As long as our hearts are not tired,” he added.
Referring to “well-established” reforms and progress made during the rule of the AKP in numerous fields from health to education, economy, transportation, justice, agriculture and tourism, Yıldırım said Turkey was “fast approaching” its 2023 goals, as demonstrated by “the giant steps” taken in this regard.