World Bulletin / News Desk
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejoined the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party upon signing his membership declaration during a special ceremony in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.
Speaking at the ceremony at AK Party headquarters, Erdogan said: "Today, I return to the party that I founded, my home, my passion, my love, which I had to leave according to our Constitution on August 27, 2014, when I was elected president."Under last month, under the previous Constitution’s rules, a Turkish president could not hold membership in a political party.
The April 16 constitutional change referendum overturned that rule.
Having rejoined the party ranks, Erdogan is now expected to be re-elected AK Party leader at an extraordinary congress in May.
In his speech at the ceremony, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Erdogan will be nominated chairman of AK Party during the congress that will be held on May 21.
Turning to Turkey’s European Union accession process, Erdogan said Turkey woud stop pursuing EU membership if the EU failed to open new accession chapters.
"You [EU] have no choice but to open these chapters you have not opened so far, if you don't, [then] goodbye," Erdogan said.
“Europe is giving all kinds of support to these [FETO terrorist] members and the PKK. Why?” Erdogan asked and added:
“They give such support to derail Turkey’s rise.”
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) is accused by Turkey of orchestrating last July’s coup attempt, which left 249 martyrs and thousands dead, as well as being behind a longstanding effort to infiltrate and undermine Turkish institutions.
More than 1,200 people, including security personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July 2015.
- 'Everyone is a first-class citizen'
Erdogan stressed that all Turkish citizens who have no ties to terrorism or treason will be treated equally.
“There are no second-class citizens in this country. All 80 million [Turkish citizens] are first-class citizens,” said Erdogan.
Erdogan led the AK Party for 13 years starting in 2001 but had to step aside when he became president in August 2014, due to a legal requirement for presidents to be politically neutral.
While handing over leadership to then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at an AK Party extraordinary congress in 2014, Erdogan bid farewell to party members but added he was leaving with “the hope of rejoining”.
Erdogan becomes the fourth president to retain his party ties. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, maintained his membership in the Republican People’s Party (CHP), as did his successor, Ismet Inonu.
Turkey’s third president, Celal Bayar, was also a member of the Democrat Party.
Turkish presidents maintained party ties until the country’s 1960 coup. The post-coup Constitution prepared in 1961 forced Turkish heads of state to cut their links to political parties. The 1982 Constitution maintained that tradition.