President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged his Justice and Development Party (AKP) colleagues to strictly implement its current three-term limitation principle, stressing the importance of a "young" party, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Erdogan argues that keeping the three-term limitation helps pave the way for younger generations to replace veteran politicians in the party management.
"Do we regard political life as only being a parliamentarian? If that's so, this is the reflection of a great personal ambition. We should stop this. Plus, we have younger generations coming. We should prepare the grounds for these younger generations. They should come and take their places in Parliament," he said in a long address to the AKP's expanded provincial chairs on Aug. 14.
The AKP's representatives of provincial chairs were gathered at the party headquarters as part of Erdogan's consultative meetings ahead of the election of his successor at the general congress on Aug. 27. Erdogan was scheduled to meet with his AKP lawmakers late Aug. 14 to conclude his face-to-face consultations with his party fellows.
The outgoing prime minister's reference to "young and dynamic generations" is seen as his support to the party's younger members claiming potential leadership in the post-Erdogan era under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Erdogan recalled that the current Austrian foreign minister was only 27-years-old and that he was of the opinion that Turkish youth could also undertake such responsibilities in the best way. He also called on the next government to make the necessary amendments to reduce the age of being able to be elected to 18 from its current 25, in a sign to show the importance given to the youth.
Serving still as both the AKP chairman and as the prime minister, Erdogan recalled that they imposed this three-term limitation principle for AKP members in the foundation of the party in 2001 in order to break the "traditional leader dictatorship" of the Turkish political system.
No U-turn from three-term principle
"I am personally an advocate of implementing this principle. But I want to say something about it. The three-term principle does not mean an end to one's political life. It only restricts one's election to Parliament for three consecutive terms. One can also participate in politics in our party's different bodies or in civil society. Isn't that politics?" he said.
A group of AKP lawmakers deemed veteran politicians have recently quarreled with the party's younger figures over the three term principle. This veteran group is in favor of the return of outgoing President Abdullah Gul as the party chairman with hopes that this principle would be suspended. Erdogan, however, closed the door on Gul's early return to the party, after deciding to hold the party congress a day before the presidential handover.
Emphasizing another of the AKP's principles, Erdogan said the party was not based on individual leaders, but a mechanism consisted of "participation, consultation and collective minds" that was intensely used by the party's cadres.
In his last address to the AKP's provincial chairs, Erdogan urged all his party fellows to be on alert against efforts to break their unity and brotherhood and not to fall into traps that would create cracks within the party. Erdogan said running after personal ambitions and competing for positions were "acts of treachery" and called on his fellows not to fall into this trap.
"We will pass a very intense test to this end in the following two weeks," he said, urging party members not to communicate through the media. "Whenever one has something to say, he or she can do it in our relevant bodies."
No resignation on Aug 15
An important message Erdogan gave on Aug. 14 was that he will not resign from the AKP chairmanship and the Prime Ministry on Aug. 15, after the official results of the presidential elections are announced by the Supreme Election Board (YSK). Criticizing some media outlets, the main opposition party and the retired judiciary officials who claim that once announced as president, all of Erdogan's other titles automatically drop, in line with constitutional provisions. "Mind your own business," Erdogan said in response.
PM sets success bar high
Underlining that he was confident the AKP under new leadership will continue to function in the most efficient way, Erdogan set the success bar for the new leadership high.
"I have said this presidential election would be signal flare for the 2015 parliamentary elections. I am of the belief that the objective of the new leader should be winning enough of the majority to be able to change the Constitution," he said. Amending the Constitution requires at least 367 lawmakers, two-thirds of the 550 seats.
Fight against Gulen community
One important point Erdogan underlined that he will continue to fight against what he calls the "parallel state," a description that government officials use for the Fethullah Gulen community, under his new capacity and urged the next prime minister not to have any sign of tolerance for this group.
"I have always said the target of this group is not Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but 77 million [Turkey's population]. I openly declare that I will continue to fight against this treacherous group with determination," he said.
New Turkey, new opposition
Describing the birth of the "new Turkey" following presidential elections, Erdogan said "You know what suits the new Turkey? New opposition. It's now indispensable," adding that the opposition had no way left to avoid self-criticism and questioning of their own performance.
"Look at what the opposition blames for elections? They blame the voters," he said.
President of 77 million
Erdogan also reiterated his promise to work for social reconciliation as president and called those who don't believe in his words to look into his 12-years of service.
"My sincere wish is that Turkey will reach out on the grounds of social reconciliation. I believe it will happen. I want everybody to know I will be doing all the best to this end," he said.
Erdogan argued Turkey was among countries that did the most to keep the right of minorities in reaction to criticisms, stressing they have been the assurance of Turkish Jews during Israel's Gaza offensive.
"Just look what's going on in Gaza. What have we said: 'Jews in Turkey are our citizens. No one can treat them in a negative manner. They are under our guarantee.' Our problem is with the Israeli administration and not with Israeli people. We will move with common sense and not with our emotions," he added.