By Hale Yavuz
Under the Leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AKP held its 4th party congress on Sunday, 30 September. Beside the importance of it to AKP and Erdogan, the grand congress carried meanings regarding to Turkey`s future since, in the coming months Turkey will hold local elections and presently there are critical issues to be considered -including Syria, sledgehammer trial, escalated terrorist attacks and the question of negotiation or continuation of military intervention. It is not overestimating to say that all of these are principally linked with the path that AKP is going to choose.
In line with the expectations, repeating his dream of 2023, Erdogan touched upon almost every subject that has taken place on his agenda for last ten years referring his party`s rule. The loan of $5 billion dollars to be given to IMF and statistical data of economical growth was among the main boasts of Erdogan who addressed to a crowd of 40,000. Reminding the starting point of his Party, he stressed that they are intended to be the party of all Turkey, not just his supporters. Therefore, he demanded cooperation of everyone, especially the Kurds whom he implied as separate from PKK militants, in sorting out terrorism. In his two-and-a-half-hour long speech Erdogan referred to the urgency of replacing military constitution with a brand new constitution based on human rights, diversity and inclusiveness. Another significant point in his speech was his reference to the Turkish youth by saying “If it`s God`s will, we will build 2023, you will build 2071”.
In addition to the importance of the congress for Turkey, it was expected to be the place where Erdogan was going to reveal his own personal agenda too. It was an issue of curiosity that what kind of messages he was going to deliver on his future political aims, presidency and who will take the wheel after 2015. Erdogan signaled that he would not leave the political arena, which was an obvious hint that in the upcoming 2014 elections of presidency he will be seen as one of the strongest candidates –maybe the only. Financial Times drew attention to the post-Erdogan period and in the related news the paper focused on what kind of government will be left after he is done in 2015 and who will take his seat. Similarly, even the motto of the congress “Great Nation, Great power, Target 2023” was interpreted as his desire to stay in power, one way or another, until 2023. His speech and future plans were deciphered as the desire of taking a leading role in regional and world politics.
Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev and Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq`s autonomous Kurdish region and lastly Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal were among the guests at the congress. Their positive remarks both to Turkey and Erdogan in person were regarded as Erdogan´s wish to be a model for Arab countries and the alliance of these countries against Syria and Iran. Mursi praised Turkey`s democratic achievements and told they needed Turkey after the Arab Spring while Barzani called Kurds to support Turkish government to solve PKK problem.