Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's first executive president

Turkish leader is scheduled to announce his cabinet on Monday, which may result in policy changes in a number of areas.

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    Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been sworn in as president of Turkey after his election victory last month which allowed him to keep his post with increased powers.

    The event at parliament in the capital, Ankara, concludes the country's transition from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency, in line with the constitutional changes approved in a referendum last year.

    A ceremony at the presidential palace that will follow later on Monday was scheduled to be attended by dozens of foreign leaders and dignitaries, including Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

    Under the new system, 64-year-old Erdogan will lead the state's executive branch and have the right to appoint and remove vice-presidents, a newly introduced position, as well as ministers, high-level officials and senior judges - without parliamentary approval.

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    The president will also have the power to dissolve parliament, issue executive decrees and impose a state of emergency. The prime ministry will not exist in the new system.

    Later on Monday, Erdogan, who secured another five-year term by winning 52.5 percent of the votes in the June 24 presidential election, will announce his new cabinet.

    Erdogan previously said that there will not be any members or parliamentarians of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the new cabinet, hinting that it will be made up of ex-politicians and bureaucrats.

    The AK Party took 42.5 percent in the parliamentary polls, also conducted on June 24, while its ally, the far-right National Movement Party (MHP), got 11.1 percent, enabling the two parties' bloc to secure a majority in parliament.

    Checks and balances, economy

    Erdogan, who has been in power for more than 15 years as prime minister and president, has repeatedly stressed that a powerful executive presidency will create a stable environment that will allow the country to take "steps for the future in a stronger manner".

    Opposition parties, Turkey's Western allies and other critics, however, say that the system grants the president major new powers without the necessary checks and balances, calling it a "one-man rule".

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    Erdogan begins his new term facing a range of economic challenges, including rising interest rates and inflation as well as a sharply devalued lira against the US dollar.

    Taner Berksoy, an economics professor and a columnist, said the lowering of the interest rates would be an obvious priority for the new government.

    "Currently, the real interest rates are not enough to keep the inflation down and we are yet to see what the economists in the cabinet will do about it," he told Al Jazeera from Turkey's largest city, Istanbul.

    "However, the interest rates will show some drop in any case, because the perceived [economic] risk of Turkey will gradually fall after the inauguration."

    But Berksoy added that a drop in interest rates "will also depend on how much the new government intervenes in the Central Bank's policies".

    During his election campaign, Erdogan explicitly stated that he would be more active in the economic front if re-elected, and would push for a decrease in interest rates, a move some analysts say is likely to raise investors' concerns about the independence of the country's central bank.

    State of emergency

    Another key promise by Erdogan in the lead-up to the elections was the lifting of the state of emergency, which has been in place since a July 2016 coup attempt.

    The government has since arrested or sacked over 100,000 people, including more than 18,500 civil servants on Sunday.

    Ankara says the purges and detentions are aimed at removing supporters of Fethullah Gulen - a religious leader blamed for the failed putsch - from state institutions and other parts of society.

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    Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, has denied any involvement in the coup bid in which hundreds were killed.

    The US and many members of the European Union, as well as international rights groups, have repeatedly condemned the detentions and purges, claiming that Ankara is using the state of emergency as a pretext to punish dissidents.

    'Softer rhetoric likely with EU'

    Turkey's EU membership talks with Brussels have been stalled over the past few years, while ties with the US have also been strained recently over the fate of the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as well as Gulen's extradition to Turkey.

    In advance of Erdogan's inauguration, Galip Dalay, a Brookings Institution fellow and Turkey analyst, said he did not anticipate any major changes in Turkey's foreign policy approach going forward.

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    "I expect a more moderate rhetoric between the EU and Ankara in the times ahead, particularly as a result of the lifting of the state of emergency and economic worries in Turkey," Dalay told Al Jazeera.

    He added, however, that he could not foresee "any major developments" over the two sides' disagreements "since the roots of those problems between Ankara and the EU existed far before the state of emergency".

    Earlier this year, the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army fighters launched a military operation into northern Syria's Afrin region with the goal of removing a US-backed Kurdish militia - known as the People's Protection Units (YPG).

    Ankara considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria and its armed wing, the YPG, to be terrorist groups with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party.

    The operation against the YPG angered the US, but Turkey was also upset with its NATO ally over Washington's backing for the armed group.

    Meanwhile, Ankara has also been working closely with Tehran and Moscow to end the Syrian war. At the same time, Turkey's cooperation with Russia has expanded in multiple areas, ranging from energy to defence.

    "I expect the US and Ankara to talk more over Syria in the times ahead," said Dalay, the Brookings Institution fellow.

    He added that the cooperation between Russia, Iran and Turkey will "be less busy, given that Washington is the main respondent to Turkey's goals in northern Syria."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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