By Nurettin Coskun
Turkey’s president said Monday he expects the next presidential and parliamentary elections to end in the first round, with little possibility of a second one.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the remarks during a joint live broadcast by private TV channels TGRT Haber, TVNET, Beyaz TV and Akit TV in Istanbul on the upcoming June 24 elections.
“My nation would make their decision without leaving this job [of electing the president] for the second round,” he said.
According to Turkey's election law, presidential and parliamentary elections will be held the same day. But if any of the presidential candidates are unable to get over 50 percent of the vote, the presidential election will go through a second round on July 8 between the two candidates who got the most votes in the first round.
While speaking about the Canal Istanbul project, a mega project of his Justice and Development (AK) Party government which is expected to be launched later this year, Erdogan said the opposition candidates are lying to the public as they had not unveiled any projects but instead vowed to stop ongoing mega projects.
Canal Istanbul: a strategic project
"Canal Istanbul is a strategic project because the Bosphorus Strait is under threat every moment," Erdogan said.
The planned canal is meant to provide relief to shipping traffic between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, particularly oil tanker traffic passing through the Bosphorus. It will also remove the risk of ships crashing into historic sea-front mansions.
The 45-kilometer (nearly 28-mile) canal, to be built in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece-Sazlidere-Durusu corridor, is to boast a capacity of 160 vessels a day and is scheduled to be completed by 2023, Turkey’s centennial.
Erdogan added that Canal Istanbul would be a famous world brand as well known as the Panama Canal.
Over 4,600 terrorists neutralized in Syria's Afrin
Erdogan vowed that Turkey would continue its counterterrorism efforts until every terrorist is killed.
Turkey has "neutralized" more than 4,600 terrorists during Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region, he said during the live broadcast.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear northwestern Syria’s Afrin region from the YPG/PKK and Daesh terror groups.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town center of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK terror group since 2012.
Earlier in the day, Erdogan announced that Turkish forces had launched an operation in Mt. Qandil, an area in northern Iraq used by the PKK terror group as its main base.
The president said Turkey had inflicted the heaviest blow in history against the PKK terror group.
Lifting state of emergency
Erdogan reiterated the possibility of lifting the state of emergency after the election but mentioned that the state of emergency could be re-imposed if the country faced “any problem”.
He said the state of emergency was imposed against the threats of terrorist groups including the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), PKK/YPG and Daesh.
As the volume of threats is decreased, the state of emergency could be lifted, he added.
Austria's decision to close mosques
The Turkish leader slammed Austria’s decision to close seven mosques,
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced last week his decision to shut down seven mosques and expel 40 imams as part of a crackdown on so-called “political Islam”.
Ankara strongly protested the decision and vowed to take serious steps against it.
Turkey will ignore Austria’s six-month turn at the EU helm, set to start on July 1, due to the controversial decision, Turkish EU Minister Omer Celik said Monday.
Austrian non-governmental organizations also strongly opposed the decision, saying it was the biggest attack on the Muslim community in the European state.