Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been sworn in as head of state after winning an historic run-off election to extend his two-decade rule for another five years.
The 69-year-old leader, who announced his new cabinet later on Saturday, will be tasked with handling an economic crisis that has witnessed runaway inflation and the collapse of the lira. He named former economy chief and internationally respected ex-banker Mehmet Simsek as treasury and finance minister.
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“I, as president, swear upon my honour and integrity before the great Turkish nation and history to safeguard the existence and independence of the state,” Erdogan said in a ceremony at the parliament in Ankara, broadcast live on television.
“We will embrace all 85 million people [in the country] regardless of their political views, origins, or sect.”
Saturday’s inauguration was followed by a lavish ceremony at the presidential palace in the capital attended by dozens of world leaders. Turkey’s longest-serving leader faces considerable diplomatic challenges amid tensions with the West.
Turkey’s transformative but divisive leader won the May 28 run-off against a powerful opposition coalition, and despite an economic crisis and criticism following a devastating February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.
Erdogan won 52.2 percent of the vote while his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu 47.8 percent, official results show.
Emre Erdogan from Bilgi University noted the president’s speech “addressed unity and solidarity several times, and he underlined the importance of forgetting resentment and anger which voters felt during his election campaign”.
“He talked about a liberal and inclusive constitution and that’s important because he never talked in this way [before]… He also talked about the role of Turkey in the region as a peacemaker. He tried to show the key role of Turkey in world politics.”
Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Ankara, said the inauguration ceremony was attended by at least 78 members of the international community.
Some of the guests included Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Addressing the country’s economic troubles will be Erdogan’s priority with inflation running at 43.7 percent, partly because of his unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to stimulate growth.
Analysts have warned if current policies continue, the economy is heading for greater turmoil given depleted foreign reserves, an expanding state-backed protected deposits scheme, and unchecked inflation expectations.
The lira has undergone a series of crashes in recent years and hit new all-time lows in the days after the vote.
Turkey’s new members of parliament started being sworn in on Friday in their first session after the May 14 election, also attended by Erdogan. His alliance holds a majority in the 600-seat parliament.
Erdogan’s victory came against a unified opposition coalition led by Kilicdaroglu, whose future as leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) remains in doubt following the defeat.
Sweden’s NATO bid
Meanwhile, NATO allies are anxiously waiting for Ankara to greenlight Sweden’s attempt to join the United States-led defence alliance before a summit in July.
Erdogan has been dragging his feet on approving the application, accusing Stockholm of sheltering “terrorists” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg attended Erdogan’s inauguration.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Twitter “a clear message” emerged at a NATO meeting in Oslo for Turkey and Hungary to start the ratification process.
Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 after his AK Party won an election in late 2002 following Turkey’s worst economic crisis since the 1970s.
In 2014, he became the country’s first popularly elected president and was elected again in 2018 after securing new executive powers for the presidency in a 2017 referendum.