Turkey’s president addresses young ruling party members



    By Handan Kazanci

    ISTANBUL (AA) – Looking back at Turkey's past and ahead to rising generations, the president on Friday addressed young supporters of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital Ankara.

    Speaking at a congress of the AK Party’s Ankara youth branches, attended by young party members from throughout Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared Turkey from before the party’s rise to power over 15 years ago to the years since.

    “To provide such great services, we owe it to our faith and dreams,” he said at an Ankara sports complex.

    He recalled a 1993 explosion at a waste disposal area in Istanbul — before he became mayor of Turkey's largest city — which triggered an avalanche that killed 39 people.

    “But now we built a sports complex there,” he said.

    Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul — the home of nearly one-fifth of Turkeys’ population — from 1994 to 1998, before founding the AK Party in 2001.

    “There is no other [political] party in Turkey that trusts in young people and relies on them as much as we do,” Erdogan said.

    He also pointed out how in last’s year AK Party-supported constitutional referendum, the minimum age of eligibility for parliament was lowered from 25 to 18, enabling younger people to seek seats as deputies.

    Speaking before Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also addressed the crowd of around 25,000 supporters.

    “You are not only illuminating our beautiful country, but the entire region,” Yildirim told the young AK Party members.

    On June 24, Turkey will hold both presidential and parliamentary early elections.

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

    If he wins 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.


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