Former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially became president on Thursday
ANKARA - Turkey's first popularly elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the country was starting a new chapter entitled "New Turkey," free of instability and insecurity thanks to the election of a president through national will.
"We leaved the 'Old Turkey' behind with our reforms, the Turkey of gangs, instability and doubt. This is the absolute victory of our reforms," said Erdogan, while taking over the presidency from Abdullah Gul on Thursday in an official ceremony.
"We will focus on the 2023 targets. We will realize a faster and healthier economic development," he added.
State leaders, government leaders and parliamentary speakers from many regions also attended the ceremony.
"Our democratic reforms, primarily the solution process will continue without any slowdown," he remarked, referring to government's efforts to end a 30-year-old conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in Turkey's southeast that has claimed more than 40,000 lives.
Erdogan added that Turkey was the leading advocate for peace and prosperity in "each square meter of the world," especially in the Middle East, thanks to its "human-oriented foreign policy."
"We raised our voice against the massacres in Gaza," he said. "We opened our doors to some 1.2 million displaced Syrians, because they are human. We could not stay silent on Syria, where some 200,000 people have died. For Turkey, human comes first, before oil, gas and energy."
Erdogan also praised Gul for his services during his 7-year presidency. Gul, also speaking at the ceremony, said "I have full confidence that Turkey will further progress under Erdogan's term."
Turkey's 12th president, Erdogan, was elected on August 10, garnering around 52 percent of the vote.
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