Sun, 01 Oct 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first world leaders to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he won Sunday's runoff election to extend his rule into a third decade.

Erdogan and his supporters continued celebrating the election win on Monday, while Turkey's opposition, led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, warned of "difficult days" against an increasingly autocratic government.

Winning 47.8 percent against 52.2 percent for Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu said it was "the most unfair election in years" but did not contest the outcome.

World leaders rushed to congratulate the Turkish president, a sign of the country's importance as a regional military power.

Macron said the two nations had "immense challenges" to work on together, including the "return of peace to Europe".

"With President Erdogan, who I congratulate, we will continue to move forward," the French leader wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine, Syria, NATO: why the Kremlin needs Erdogan to win

While France's relations with Turkey have been strained over recent years, Macron needs a working relationship with Turkey on issues such as fighting political Islam.

Turkey has also provided drones to Ukraine, positioning himself as a mediator in the conflict with Russia.

In a Twitter post, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he counted on the "further strengthening of the strategic partnership for the good of our countries, as well as the strengthening of cooperation for the security and stability of Europe".

Russia's President Putin, who has collaborated closely with Erdogan on key international issues despite some disagreements, congratulated his "dear friend" on his victory and said that his win was "the logical result of your dedicated work".

'Strategic importance'

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission of the European Union, which Erdogan hopes his country will join, said the bloc wanted to strengthen ties with Turkey and that she looked forward to "continue building the EU-Turkey relationship".

As a member of NATO, Turkey under Erdogan has contributed to redrawing its economic, security and foreign policy.

It has ratified Finland's application to join the military alliance though objected to Sweden doing the same.

NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said he looked forward to "continuing our work together and preparing for the NATO Summit in July".

While relations between Turkey and the US has been strained over Erdogan's stance on Sweden, Ankara's close relationship with Moscow and differences over Syria, US President Biden said he hoped to work with Erdogan on "shared global challenges".

Germany, home to the EU's largest Turkish community, hailed the countries as "close partners and allies" whose "people and economies are deeply intertwined".

The leader of fellow Muslim country Pakistan described Erdogan as a "pillar of strength for oppressed Muslims & a fervent voice for their inalienable rights".

'Man of the people'

Having clamped down on independent media, the majority of Turkey's media landscape overwhelmingly praised Erdogan's victory.

"The man of the people won," the Sabah newspaper headline said. "We opened the door to the Turkish century."

The Hurriyet daily said: "Victory is Erdogan's again, the winner is Turkey."

However, the country is battling with rampant inflation. The Turkish lira has lost 90 percent of its value in the last decade.

A month from Turkey's elections, soaring inflation shakes up political loyalties

Critics have blamed Erdogan's unorthodox, low interest-rate economic policy - which the opposition had pledged to reverse - for the country's woes.

Erdogan said inflation, which hit a 24-year peak of 85 percent last year before declining, was Turkey's most urgent issue.

It is unclear what Erdogan's win means for the opposition alliance and whether it will remain intact.

"For the opposition, very difficult days are ahead" warned analyst Atilla Yesilada, forecasting more judicial moves against the Kurdish party.

(with wires)

Originally published on RFI

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