Turkey's reflexes under its current presidential system are quicker as well as more effective and comprehensive in responding to regional and global crises, the country's president said on Tuesday.
"The presidential system of government is the only administrative reform carried out directly by the people’s will in our 200-year quest for democracy," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a special Cabinet meeting looking back at the last two years under Turkey’s presidential system, adopted in the wake of a 2017 public referendum.
Erdogan added that he would willingly change course if a better and more effective system of government were found, stressing that “growing pains" were inevitable as the country made corrections in many areas from politics to society.
He reiterated that Turkey did not seek to violate the rights of other countries, but instead would continue to protect its own rights.
Turkish voters opted to shift to a presidential system in an April 2017 referendum. In June 2018, Erdogan was re-elected president, Turkey’s first president under the new system.
On the coronavirus pandemic, Erdogan said that in addition to protecting its own people, Turkey has provided healthcare products to 136 countries and four international organizations.
The country has also established field hospitals at eight border crossings for health checks, he added.
The Turkish government was not deterred by the pandemic, as it achieved 93% of 2,384 planned actions over 180 days through the end of this June, including the worst days of the pandemic, Erdogan noted.
He also said that more than 90,000 citizens from 138 countries have been brought back to Turkey amid the pandemic.
Turkey has reported 221,500 coronavirus cases, 204,011 recoveries and 5,526 fatalities so far, according to the country's Health Ministry.
Recent months have seen declining numbers of daily cases, almost falling below the number of recoveries -- a key benchmark -- and Turkey has been relaxing measures against the virus and moving towards normalization.
Fight against terrorism
On Turkey’s fight against terrorism, Erdogan said that over the last two years, the country has carried out more than 243,000 operations against the terrorist group PKK.
“We neutralized a total of 2,354 terrorists in anti-terrorist operations,” he said, adding that the number of terrorists in Turkey dropped below 400.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
Erdogan also stressed the country also carried out 17,000 operations against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup.
Underlining that Turkey has substantially rooted out all of FETO's structures from bureaucracy to the business world, he said the country continues to clear out the rest.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the July 15, 2016 defeated coup, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Erdogan said 2,652 operations were conducted in the country against the Daesh/ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorist organizations, 635 terrorists were neutralized, and five terrorist actions prevented.
Since early 2017, no single action has been carried out by Daesh/ISIS in Turkey, he added.
Also, as part of the fight against drugs, 364,346 operations have been carried out in the last two years, Erdogan noted.
Erdogan said Turkey will continue its presence in Syria until Syrian people gain peace, freedom, and confidence.
He also criticized the current election in Syria as well as the countries which did not condemn the election.
Migration and operations
As parts of efforts to deal with irregular migration, the number of centers was raised to 28 with nine new centers, with their capacity up to 20,000, Erdogan said, and noted that the number of Syrians returning voluntarily to terror-free areas exceeded 402,000.
Erdogan said Turkey strengthens its army in all areas for the peace and security of the country and Turkish nation, adding that the country, through the Operation Euphrates Shield and other operations -- including Olive Branch, Claw-Eagle, Peace Spring, and Spring Shield -- has dealt new blows to the terrorist corridor attempted to be created on its southern border.
“We create safe zones across the border to stop terrorists infiltrating from the Iraqi border. So, we significantly eliminated the terrorist threat to our country from this region,” he said.
Developments in Turkey’s defense industry
Erdogan pointed out that external dependence in the defense industry dropped to 30% from 70%, and that while in 2002, 62 defense projects with a budget of $5.5 billion were carried out. Today the number has reached 700 with a budget of $60 billion.
The number of companies operating in the defense industry rose from 56 to 1,500, and the turnover of the sector from $1 billion to $11 billion in the same period, and this table was also reflected in exports, he said.
Turkish defense and aviation exports, which were only $248 million 18 years ago, are now over $3 billion, he added.
In transportation, Turkey continues to make the biggest infrastructure investments in the country's history, Erdogan said, adding that in this context, Turkey also opened Istanbul Airport -- where will serve 90 million passengers a year, and its capacity can reach up to 200 million when the airport starts to fully operate.
The airport has become one of the monuments of pride in the country as soon as it was opened, employing 225,000 people and operating more than 300 flight lines, with 250 of them international, he stressed.
He also said that despite the pandemic, 65-million passenger traffic has been carried out through domestic and international flights since its opening.
Erdogan also said Turkey continued to conduct drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in line with the international laws.
As part of the memorandum of understanding signed between the Libyan Government of National Accord and Turkey for enhancing security and military cooperation on Nov. 27, 2019, Erdogan stressed that Turkey protects its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Erdogan added that Turkey also takes additional steps to strengthen cooperation with Libya in the energy sector.
He invited all actors, who acted against the legitimate Libyan government, to respect the international law and will of the Libyan people.