‘Irreplaceable’ Erdoğan plays up diplomatic wins in electioneering blueprint

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is playing up his successes on the international stage, offering a blueprint on how he plans to campaign for re-election next year, Reuters reported.

Erdoğan is stressing that a series of diplomatic and military successes mean Turkey has not been stronger since the days of the Ottoman Empire. He hopes that approach will help him win the presidential election, scheduled for June 2023, Turkey’s centenary year, even amid deep economic troubles in the country.  

"Turkey is going through its strongest period politically, militarily and diplomatically," Erdoğan told a rally attended by thousands in northwest Turkey at the weekend, according to Reuters. He spoke the day after holding talks in Sochi, Russia with President Vladimir Putin.

Erdoğan is touting a grain deal he helped broker between Ukraine and Russia last month as well as military campaigns against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq as proof of his leadership credentials ahead of the vote. He also bristles with apparent confidence when dealing with neighbouring Greece, which he accuses of robbing Turkey of territorial rights in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

"Whether you like him or not, Erdoğan is a leader," a senior Turkish official said, pointing to his contacts with leaders across the globe, which are unrivalled internationally, Reuters reported. "There is no leader in Turkey who can replace him."

Erdoğan is seeking to parry opposition accusations that he is mismanaging the economy -- inflation in the country has surged to 79.6 percent after he ordered the central bank to cut interest rates despite an uptick in prices. The lira slumped to a record low in December and has lost more than a quarter of its value in 2022. He claims the fruits of his unorthodox economic plan aimed at exports, production and investment will be felt far more clearly early next year.

"The government is using foreign policy as material to cover up the economic disaster it has dragged the country into, telling tales of 'diplomatic victory' at home," said Erdoğan Toprak, a parliamentarian for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a senior adviser to its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

"Voters are aware of the benefits of diplomacy. At times they will complain about the economy or refugees, but they will vote for Erdoğan for the continuation of an effective Turkey," an AK Party official said, according to Reuters.

"By securing the opening of the grain corridor we confirmed again Turkey's key role in solving global problems," Erdoğan said on Saturday.

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