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President Erdogan heralds Turkey's ‘fresh start’

Turkey is making a fresh start after the country officially switched to a new presidential system of government, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his inaugural address on Monday. 

Speaking to a host of Turkish and foreign dignitaries at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said: “With a presidential system of government, we are moving to a new system of government which is far beyond our almost 150-year-quest for democracy and what we have experienced through the history of our 95-year-old republic.” 

He added that Turkey is leaving behind a system which cost the country politically, socially, and economically. 

“We will try to be worthy of our nation with the awareness that we are the president not only of those who voted for us, but all 81 million” citizens of Turkey, Erdogan said. 

The president said the new system makes the marginalization, persecution, and alienation of people a thing of the past.

He added that in the new era Turkey would go further in every area, including democracy, fundamental rights, freedoms, the economy, and large investments.

Erdogan vowed they would work to grow and strengthen Turkey in line with the promises given to the public.

"We will strengthen Turkey in all areas, including the defense industry and border security,” he said.

The president also said the first Cabinet under the new system will convene on Friday.


Thousands take part

He also announced that all celebrations during the inauguration ceremony would be cancelled due to Sunday's train accident in Turkey’s northwestern province of Tekirdag which left at least 24 people killed.

Later on Monday at 9.30 p.m. (GMT1830), Erdogan is also due to announce the ministers of the new Cabinet under Turkey's presidential system.

Erdogan late Monday afternoon took the presidential oath of office to become the Republic of Turkey's first president under its new governmental system. 

Together with dignitaries and guests, some 10,000 people participated in the inauguration ceremony. Turkish citizens from all walks of life -- including teachers, firefighters, village leaders, tradesmen, miners, and dentists -- were among the invitees.

Leaders of religious communities were also present.

Soldiers fired a 101-gun salute during Erdogan’s entrance to the presidential complex.

The guests were given a gift of 1 Turkish lira coins specially produced for the occasion. Some of these coins will also be placed on the market. Also, a special stamp was printed to mark the day.


Foreign leaders

Twenty-one presidents were present at the ceremony -- from Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Guinea, Zambia, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, Mauritania, Gabon, Chad, Djibouti, Venezuela and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus -- as well as the emir of Qatar. 

EU heavyweight Germany was represented at the swearing-in ceremony by former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. 

“Schroder is taking part at the ceremony on behalf of the German federal government,” Rainer Breul, German Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman, told reporters in Berlin. 

Diplomatic sources said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was unable to attend due to his scheduled meetings in Berlin with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. 

Erdogan’s re-election in the June 24 polls marked Turkey's transition to an executive presidential system of government, doing away with the prime minister's post, among other changes. 

Erdogan won an absolute majority in the presidential election with 52.5 percent of the vote, according to Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK).