Erdoğan challenges ‘strategic partner’ while reshuffling ruling party management

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has challenged the United States, whom he accused of appearing like a strategic partner but acting like Turkey is its “strategic target,” while reshuffling his party’s top management.

The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) sixth grand congress began at 11.30 a.m. on Aug. 18 with Erdoğan addressing thousands of AKP supporters in front of the Ankara Sports Hall.

“They were not able to make us collapse and they will never be. If they have their dollars, we have our God. We will walk toward the future together with firm steps,” Erdoğan told the crowd, referring to what he described as an “economic attack” on Turkey and its national currency.

“God willing, we will give the world a different message with our congress that we convene for the first time under the new system,” he added.

Erdoğan kept up with defiant rhetoric during his opening speech at the congress, vowing to “not surrender to those who apparently seemed like a strategic partner while trying to make us a strategic target with all of their concrete steps.”

In an apparent jab at the U.S. amid the ongoing diplomatic row, Erdoğan said: “Some people threaten us with economy, sanctions, foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and inflation. We are telling them that we see the games they play and we challenge them.”

Turkey would never bow before those “who set up their own order by exploiting the world,” Turkish President added.

Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on two government ministers for not releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.

In the day-long congress with the motto “one nation one aim,” the party’s Central Decision and Management Board (MKYK) was determined, while Erdoğan consolidated his leadership by being re-elected as party chair with 1,380 votes.

The president of the congress was former Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin when delegates voted for a new MKYK of 50 party members.

29 names were replaced in the new MKYK. The new body includes 42 members of the parliament and 8 figures who are not MPs.

Party bylaws were also amended in line with the new executive presidential system. The terms “Prime Ministry” and “Cabinet of Ministers” have been replaced by “Presidency,” after constitutional amendments last year authorized the abolishment of the Prime Ministry and related organizational structure.

The new bylaw also includes a pre-election alliance principle that was brought into force by a legislative change before the June 24 elections.

The MKYK also determined the party’s top management body, the Central Execution Board (MYK), whose members function as deputy chairs.

The ruling party invited nine political parties including the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), İYİ (Good) Party and Felicity Party (SP). Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was not invited to the congress, while İYİ Party announced they would not attend.

Apart from political parties, the leaders of 52 countries were also invited to the congress. Some 414 foreign guests were also invited.