Erdogan gives further sign of change to ruling party
Turkish president says Justice and Development (AK) Party must keep abreast of change
By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet
In a further sign of an impending shake-up in the ruling party, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the party he leads cannot be allowed to stagnate.
Erdogan has repeatedly suggested changes are planned to the Justice and Development (AK) Party ahead of a general election in 2019.
“We cannot confine the AK Party to stagnation in an era where Turkey and the world are changing rapidly,” he said at a party rally in the southern city of Antalya.
He added that those become a burden to the party would be “pulled off the road”.
However, those who carried out their duties with enthusiasm would be welcome to remain, he said.
At a similar event in Isparta on Saturday, Erdogan said he was committed to “fundamental change in our party.”
The president also addressed possible links between some party members and the group said to be behind last year’s defeated coup -- the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
“Wherever there are those who are linked to FETO, notify us immediately and we are obliged to show them the door immediately,” he told the crowd.
FETO had divided both the Turkish and the worldwide Muslim nation, Erdogan said.
Referring to the group’s U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen and FETO supporters who had fled abroad, he added: “They have parked in Pennsylvania, Germany, in different countries of the West.
“You will escape to many more countries. You will escape to Africa. But you will escape and we will chase... Because we cannot tolerate my nation to be split.”
FETO is accused of orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt that saw 250 people martyred and some 2,200 injured.
Erdogan said a German magazine, Focus, made an interview with Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who said "No one in Turkey has life and property security."
Erdogan added that the expression Kilicdaroglu used shows he is deliberately defaming Turkey and complaining about Turkey to German public opinion.
Kilicdaroglu is trying to scare German investors and German tourists away from coming to Turkey, Erdogan added.
"Whatever lies these say [...] the interest of investors and tourists towards our country is continuously on the rise," Erdogan stressed.
Erdogan said: "Kilicdaroglu says 'Do not come', but the tourists say 'What is that to you?'"
He also mentioned the latest figures in Turkish economy.
"In the first quarter of 2017, growth is 5 percent, annual exports has exceeded 150 billion dollars. These signal good days ahead. Inflation has dropped to single-digit again," Erdogan added.
In addition, Erdogan said they are in preparation for a third airport in Antalya. He said they are planning to start at the end of 2017 the construction of the new airport in Antalya's west, which has an investment value of 850 million dollars.
He added that they are planning to open the airport in 2021 the latest.