Erdoğan re-elected ruling AKP chairman in packed party congress

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday was re-elected chairman of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a crowded party congress held in capital Ankara.

Erdoğan received all 1,428 valid votes out of a total of 1,431 cast ballots during the AKP’s 7th ordinary congress, electing him for the post for a seventh time, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Turkish president thanked his fellow party members for deeming him worthy of the post in his speech at the event, where the AKP elected 75 members of its Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), with 21 changes made to the body.

During his two-hour speech at the event, Turkish president spoke on his vision for Turkey as the country nears its centenary year in 2023, when presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place.

Thousands of AKP supporters filled the stands of an over 10,000-capacity complex in Ankara, drawing the ire of critics over violations of the government’s own social distancing measures amid the pandemic.

Erdoğan also spoke on a spate of issues including the economy and foreign policy, while reiterating a need for a new constitution.

The Turkish president vowed for Turkey to maintain its active foreign policy, saying Ankara stood with “oppressed nations”, pointing to Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Turkey will continue its efforts, continue to stand by the Syrian people until Syria truly becomes a country run by Syrians,” Anadolu cited Erdoğan as saying.

Turkey, which backs the Syrian opposition against the regime of President Bashar Assad, has launched multiple military operations into the war-torn country and controls parts of northern Syria.

Speaking on Libya, where Turkey has been providing military assistance to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), Erdoğan said Turkish military aid had improved the situation of Libya’s people and the country could continue its democratic process and look to the future with hope.

Turkey stands with Azerbaijan in its efforts to liberate territories under occupation, Erdoğan said, referring to Nagorno-Karabakh, where Turkish military support proved crucial to Azerbaijan reclaiming authority over the territory from Armenian-backed forces last year.

“Turkey will not turn its back on the East or West,” Erdoğan said, stressing his country’s geopolitical role at the intersection of the continents.

“Ankara will set its foreign policy while protecting national and international rights of his country,”he added.