Erdogan: Turkey has 'advanced democracy'

Oct. 1, 2012 at 10:18 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country is an example of how democracy can work in an Islamic country.

Erdogan spoke Sunday at a dinner marking his re-election as chairman of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, CNN reported.

"We have shown, both at home and abroad, that a country with a Muslim population can have a thriving and advanced democracy," Erdogan told the crowd, which included Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq.

Turkey "has practically become an example to all Muslim countries," he said during a 2 1/2-hour speech.

Erdogan won the party chairmanship for the third time at the party congress Sunday, reaching AKP's term limits. The party's rules were amended during the meeting to allow members of Parliament who have served three terms to be re-elected after sitting out an election cycle.

In reference to that change, the president said he would continue to stay active in politics.

"This is not a goodbye but a pause in the notes of a song," he said.

Erdogan asserted the AKP is a "conservative democratic party." His critics say he is an authoritarian figure and that under his leadership numerous political rivals and journalists have been arrested.

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