FRANCIS LUNGU, Lusaka
WHEN President Edgar Lungu visited Turkey for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration early this month, he (Erdogan) promised to reciprocate the gesture with a visit to Zambia soon.True to his word, President Erdogan, Turkey’s first executive President under the new presidential system of government, jets into Zambia today.
President Lungu, who was in Turkey from July 8-10, 2018, during which he held a bilateral high-level meeting with Turkish president, said Mr Erdogan expressed willingness to further diplomatic and trade relations with Zambia.
President Erdoğan is making a historic visit to Zambia as the first head of State of Turkey to visit Zambia.
During his visit, he will exchange views with President Lungu on all aspects of relations between the two countries as well as regional and international developments.
Mr Erdogan has been President for Turkey since 2014. He previously served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 and as mayor of the Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and commercial capital from 1994 to 1998.
Istanbul swanks as the only city in the world that geographically spreads into two different continents; Europe and Asia.
Who exactly is Mr Erdogan? With roots in Rize, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was born in Istanbul on February 26, 1954.
He graduated from Kasımpaşa Piyale Primary School in 1965 and completed his high school education at Istanbul Imam Hatip School (Religious Vocational High School) in 1973.
Having succeeded in the necessary examinations for additional courses, Mr Erdoğan received a diploma from Eyüp High School as well. He received his graduation diploma from Marmara University’s Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences in 1981.
Since his youth, Mr Erdoğan has chosen to lead a social life intertwining with politics. From 1969 to 1982, he was also actively interested in football which taught him the significance of in his younger years.
These years coincided with the time when Mr Erdoğan as an idealistic young man started to be interested in social and national problems and stepped into active politics.
Assuming active responsibilities at the students’ branch of the National Turkish Students’ Association during his high school and university years, Mr Erdoğan was elected head of the MSP Beyoğlu Youth Branch in 1976 and he was also elected as head of the MSP İstanbul Youth Branch in the same year.
Holding this position until 1980, he served as consultant and senior executive in the private sector during the September 12 era when the political parties were closed down.
Mr. Erdoğan returned to political activities with the Welfare Party, established in 1983, and he was elected the Beyoğlu District Head of the Welfare Party in 1984.
In 1985, he was elected as İstanbul provincial head of the Welfare Party and in the same year, he became a member of the Central Executive Board of the Welfare Party.
Developing a new organisational structure which served as a model for other political parties during his tenure as Istanbul Provincial Head, Mr Erdoğan carried out projects that aimed at urging the participation of women and youth in politics, thus taking important steps toward helping politics to be espoused and respected among the masses.
This project won the Welfare Party a great success during the mayoral elections in Beyoğlu in 1989, serving as a good example for others in terms of studies at the party across the country.
As for the local elections held on March 27, 1994, Mr Erdoğan was elected mayor of Metropolitan İstanbul.
During his term in office as mayor, he produced correct diagnoses and solutions to the chronic problems of İstanbul, through his political abilities, the importance he attached to teamwork and successful management in human resources and financial issues.
After serving as mayor of Metropolitan İstanbul in 1998, Mr Erdogan maintained being actively involved in the Turkish politics until 2003 when he rose to the position of Prime Minister which he held until 2014 when he became Turkey’s President.
He was elected the 12th Turkish President on August 10, 2014, becoming the first President of that country to be elected by popular vote.
Upon the approval of the constitutional amendment in a referendum on April 16, 2017, President Erdoğan was elected at the 3rd Extraordinary Congress on May 21, 2017, as the chairman of the AK Party, of which he is the founder.
Mr Erdoğan, winning 52.59 percent of the votes, was re-elected President in the presidential elections, held on June 24, 2018.
Mr Erdoğan was sworn in on July 9, 2018 as the first President of the Presidential System of Government, which Turkey switched to following the constitutional amendment that was adopted in the referendum on April 16, 2017.
President Erdoğan is married and has four children. He since arose to be an important figure in international politics and commands huge influence and respect on the globe stage.
Enroute to Zambia, President Erdogan was in Johannesburg, South Africa attending the 10th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit from July 25-27, 2018.
He was invited both in his capacity as the current term chairperson of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and as Turkish President to attend the 10th Leaders’ Summit of BRICS countries, which account for more than 23 percent of the world’s economy.
President Erdoğan’s participation in the summit was the first high-level contact between the BRICS and Turkey.
As part of the visit, President Erdoğan held bilateral talks with leaders of the BRICS member countries and other invited countries, who included Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazil’s President Michel Temer and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, according to the statement issued by the Turkish Presidency.
FRANCIS LUNGU, Lusaka