Vowing a “new era” of reconciliation in Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has celebrated his election as president with tens of thousands of supporters in Ankara.
Erdogan appeared on the balcony of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters in Ankara where he has traditionally given victory speeches in elections in recent years.
As fireworks exploded in the skies and supporters held up torches, Erdogan promised to unite the country when he takes the office of president later this month.
“Today we are closing an era and taking the first step for a new era,” Erdogan said in a victory speech from the balcony of his party headquarters in Ankara.
He promised a “new social reconciliation process” where all Turks of whatever origin or belief would be equal citizens of the country.
“I thank each and every citizen, whether they voted for me or not, who contributed to the writing of history on such a historic day,” he added, saying the “debates of the past” would now be left behind.
“Today is a new day. Today is a milestone. Today is the day when a new Turkey is rising from the ashes.”
He was joined by top party officials, ministers as well as his headscarf-wearing wife Emine and the president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev.
Erdogan said: “It is not only Recep Tayyip Erdogan who won today. Today, national will has won once again. Today, democracy has won once again.
“We may have different political views, different lifestyles, sects, values, ethnic roots… but we are all sons of this country … each of us are the owner of this state.”
Party loyalists crammed outside the party headquarters often interrupted Erdogan’s speech by shouting slogans like “Turkey is proud of you!” and simply “Recep Tayyip Erdogan!”.
Erdogan assured the crowds that as president he would embrace all segments of society without any discrimination.
“I will be a president who wholeheartedly embraces 77 million people, as I have done all through my life and all through my political struggle,” he said.