Strong government needs strong parliament: Erdogan

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    A strong government needs a strong parliament, Turkey’s president said Monday, noting that the alliance between his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will contribute to the solidarity in the Turkish parliament.

    "If we are talking about a strong government, then you are going to create a strong government with a powerful parliament, so the number is very important in this respect. If you want a stronger president, we need a stronger parliament," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told local news channel Haberturk.

    "First of all, it [the number of AK Party lawmakers in parliament] must be over 300," Erdogan said, adding that the People's Alliance with MHP would increase the solidarity in parliament.

    Erdogan also said there might be one or two vice presidents in the new presidential system after the elections on June 24.

    Eight political parties are contesting the early elections on June 24, including the ruling Justice and Development Party, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Free Cause (Huda-Par) Party, newly-formed Good (IYI) Party, Felicity (Saadet) Party and Patriotic (Vatan) Party.

    For the first time in Turkish political history, political parties will go to the polls after forming alliances. Also, mobile ballot boxes, a required 100,000 signatures to be a presidential candidate and presidential and parliamentary elections being held on the same day are some of the firsts in this election process.

    Turkey’s ruling AK Party and the MHP will enter the race as the People's Alliance while the CHP, IYI Party, SP and Democrat Party (DP) will participate as the Nation Alliance.

    Last April, parliament passed a bill for early elections on June 24, cementing Turkey’s move to a presidential system.

    In the April 2017 referendum, Turkish voters approved the switch from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.

    Erdogan has served as president since 2014 — Turkey's first popularly elected president. Before that, he served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014.

    Should he win the June 24 election, Erdogan would be Turkey's first leader under the presidential system, doing away with the prime minister's post, among other changes.

    Asked whether the conflicts between Turkey and the U.S. were caused by President Donald Trump or the political system in the U.S., Erdogan said Turkey still hopes a different process will start with the Trump administration.

    "However, I didn't like their approach in northern Syria. Their bringing 5,000 truckloads of weapons, ammunition, 2,000 cargo planes full of weapons and ammunition was not appropriate," he said.

    "You are bringing them for whom? You are bringing them against whom? We have a 911- kilometer long border with [Syria]," Erdogan said, recalling that the U.S. had around 20 airbases in the area.

    "So you set up those [airbases] for whom? You set them up against whom? This is Turkey's border."

    Erdogan accused the U.S. of supporting the PKK/YPG and PYD terrorist organizations against the Turkish people by providing them with weapons.

    "You are giving them all kinds of weapons and support. We cannot purchase weapons [from the U.S.] with our money, but you are financially supporting these terrorist organizations for free."

    U.S. military support for the YPG/PKK terrorist group in Manbij, Syria has strained ties between Ankara and Washington and has led to fears of military clashes between the two NATO allies, as there are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in the city.

    This January, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, northern Syria to clear terrorist groups from the area. After liberating the city of Afrin, Ankara said it might also extend its operation further east to Manbij unless the YPG/PKK terrorist group leaves the strategically located city.

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