We will bury “Old Turkey,” vows Erdoğan

A vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Jun. 24 elections will be a “nail in the coffin of the Old Turkey,” Turkısh President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has promised voters at a rally in the Black Sea coastal city of Ordu.

Notions of a “new” and “old” Turkey have long had prominence in the rhetoric of the ruling party, which projects itself as a step forward from an “Old Turkey” of instability and coup attempts. The party’s many successful infrastructure projects make up a central part of this narrative.

Erdoğan referred to the Ordu-Giresun airport project, built on an artificial island and opened in 2015, as an example of that success, and promised to continue development in the area by building dams.

The president went on to discuss another high profile electoral vow that has been widely mocked by the opposition: the promise to establish 24-hour coffee and reading houses with free drinks and cakes.

Erdoğan also emphasised that the AKP had been successful in northern Syria, where a military operation cleared the mainly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northwest Syrian enclave of Manbij in March, and a deal with the United States promises to clear the group and its affiliates from nearby Manbij by the end of the year.

The YPG is seen by Turkey as a terrorist organisation and satellite of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has pursued Kurdish autonomy through armed struggle since 1984.

While Turkey’s relations with its traditional allies in the West have been in tatters during the late AKP period, Erdoğan was keen to stress that the agreement with the United States, which has a military presence in Manbij, was made through diplomacy.