Erdoğan calls for national unity that excludes terror, foreign power linked groups

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aims to be a shelter for 82 million people living in the country and called for the national unity of everyone except those linked to terrorist organisations and foreign powers.

Erdoğan last week called for a “Turkey Alliance”, saying the elections were over and it was time to focus on Turkey’s economic and security policies.

Analysts and journalists over the week interpreted Erdoğan’s call as an effort to establish a national unity government which will include representatives of opposition parties and civil society organisations. Turkish media also reported that Erdoğan’s call strained relations with ally, Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Speaking at the AKP’s 28th consultation meeting in Ankara’s Kızılcahamam district, Erdoğan said that the alliance between the AKP and MHP in fact won elections in Istanbul and Ankara in local polls on March 31.

According to analysts, the AKP and Erdoğan suffered a major blow as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) declared victory on March 31 in mayoral races in Istanbul and Ankara after 25 years.

Erdoğan said that his party had won 24 district municipalities in Istanbul out of 39 and 19 in Ankara out of 25, while it had secured majority in mayoral councils of both cities.

The AKP applied to the Supreme Election Council (YSK) for the annulment of the Istanbul vote, where Ekrem İmamoğlu of the CHP was declared the winner by a small margin. Erdoğan said there were organised electoral fraud incidents in Istanbul and they would follow the process till the end.

The Turkish president said, while his party had been fighting with those outside the political organisation, it had had also people doing the party wrong from within.

“Unfortunately, we have witnessed this in several periods, the things that some from amongst us have done, those who reached a higher position, certain levels, are impossible to absorb. Those who say they are devotees of this cause, where were they during this election campaign? Where did they go?” Erdoğan said.

“When the time comes, of course we will hold into account of those wrongdoings for the future of this organisation. We are not supposed to carry them on our backs,” he said.

Erdogan said 'we know that some are trying to create discord' within the party. Former prime minister and foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu published a 'manifesto' last week harshly criticizing Erdogan and the 'clique' within the party.

Erdoğan also hinted that he would make some changes in the party’s organisation, saying that loyalty to the cause of the party would be the main factor in such changes.

The Turkish president reiterated that Turkey should now focus on finding solutions to the problems in the country in the aftermath of the elections.

“We know best how important it is to reach agreement on our country’s national issues, to come together over the least common denominator. Beginning with terror, security, and economy, we as 82 million should resist together against threats to Turkey’s survival,” Erdoğan said.

According to Erdoğan, the People’s Alliance between the AKP and the MHP is the locomotive of national unity.

“We invite everyone who have not lent their souls and minds to terrorist organisations, foreign powers to come together around a common denominator,” Erdoğan said.

“The only polarisation in Turkey is the polarisation between those who come together around a common denominator and those who are on the side of terrorist organisations,” he added.

The Turkish President also mentioned an attack against the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Sunday during a military funeral in Ankara, saying that the main opposition party tried to escalate tensions over that unfortunate event.

Erdoğan said those who cooperated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) should be more careful when attending military funerals.

“Where do those martyrs come from? You cooperated with  the PKK monsters, the HDP, which is the political reflection of those rascals, that are behind. Should not we talk about it? Are we supposed to absorb it?” Erdoğan asked, citing the predominantly Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP).

The Turkish president said that the PKK headquarters instructed the HDP not to run in local polls in major cities on March 31. 

The preliminary results of the election show that the HDP voters played a pivotal role in the opposition parties’ victory in Istanbul and Ankara.

Erdoğan also touched the issue of the S-400 Russian air defense system and Turkey’s relations with the United States.

"We are going through a series of disagreements about the S-400 defence system with the United States, a country also follows policies in Syria that would never suit our alliance. Turkey's precautions against the threats of terrorism coming from Syria and Iraq are legitimate,’’ Erdoğan said, adding, "Despite of all of these, we are following with sadness as the United States consistently moves together with the separatist terror organisation. We will continue to take steps to do away with the terror swamp in Syria, S-400 and [create] similar security barricades."

Turkey's decision to deploy the Russian S-400 air defence system attracted condemnations and threats from top U.S. officials. Different branches of the U.S. government have been threatening to bring sanctions against Turkey and its ties with the Turkish defence sectors if the deal finalized.

Erdogan, in same speech, also slammed the European Union for moving slowly to accept Turkey as a member. "Do you not like Turkey, do you not want Turkey? Then tell us that you are parting ways with us and we can pull the plug on it," the Turkish president said.