Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set out his AK Party’s platform for the country’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, including tackling an ailing economy.
Addressing a party rally in the Turkish capital Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said economic prosperity and technological advancement would be his key priorities should he be elected in the June vote.
“Our youth are our strongest quality, in terms of economic growth we will make the best use of this quality ” Erdogan said, before promising more female participation in the country’s workforce.
“When we [AK Party] came to government, we moved our country from low-wage level to mid-wage level, and now our aim is to move to higher levels on that scale,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu said the pledge to improve the economy comes amid increasing concerns about the country’s finances.
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“The economy is one of the most important things because Turkey was a success story during the AK Party era, but after 2013 – in line with the global shrink in growth rates – Turkey’s growth has slowed and the Turkish lira has been weakening against the US,” she said.
Relations with EU
Erdogan’s remarks came shortly after the country’s central bank announced a sharp interest rate hike from 13.5 percent to 16.5 percent to halt the fall in the value of the lira.
He also said he will attempt repair strained relations with countries in Europe.
“We will strengthen our economic and political ties with various regional structures, especially the EU. We want all brotherly nations in our region and the world to reach better welfare, together with our nation,” Erdogan said.
A number of EU member states condemned the Turkish government’s arrests and purges of tens of thousands of people after a failed coup attempt in July 2016. Local and international rights groups have accused Ankara of using the putsch bid as a pretext to silence opposition in the country.
The government says the purges and detentions are aimed at removing from state institutions and other parts of society the supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based, self-exiled religious leader blamed by Ankara for the attempted coup.
Improving women’s work opportunities will also continue to be high on the political agenda, the president said.
“We have come a long way in bringing our women to the positions they deserve. We will continue to increase women’s participation in every area, from politics to bureaucracy, culture to art, and to non-governmental activities,” he said.
Turkey is also dealing with security challenges, including tackling armed attacks by Kurdish separatists and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The frequency of such attacks has decreased in recent years.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies