World

Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy have joined world leaders in congratulating Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his election win.

In a letter to president Erdogan celebrating his narrow run-off victory on Sunday, Mr Putin addressed the Turkish leader as “Dear Friend” and praised his efforts at strengthening Russian-Turkish relations.

“From the bottom of my heart I wish you new successes in such a responsible activity as the head of state, as well as good health and well-being,” he added.

Mr Zelensky also offered his congratulations to Mr Erdogan and spoke of the need for the “further strengthening” of Ukraine and Turkey’s “strategic” partnership.

He was joined by Western leaders, such as Rishi Sunak, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, who took to Twitter to share congratulate Mr Erdogan on his election win.

Turkey holds an important position in world politics, in part because of its geographical location as the junction between Europe and Asia – in particular the Middle East.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkey also holds increasing importance as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea and has been central in negotiating crucial deals to maintain the export of Ukrainian grain.

Though a NATO country – and one which has in the past pushed for European Union membership – Turkey maintains diplomatic relations with Russia.

In his letter of congratulations to Mr Erdogan, Mr Putin talked about the development of the joint Turkish-Russian Akkuyu nuclear power plant and the creation of a gas hub in Turkey.

‘Russia must return land to Ukraine’

Mr Erdogan, however, has also in the past talked about the importance of maintaining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and securing a peace deal to end the conflict.

In September last year, when asked whether Russia should be able to keep its territorial gains, he told US public broadcaster PBS: “No, and undoubtedly no.

“If a peace is going to be established in Ukraine, of course, the returning of the land that was invaded will become really important. This is what is expected.”

Turkey election latest:
Erdogan thanks crowds as election officials declare him winner

Western leaders, including the UK’s prime minister, have also been keen to push the idea of a “strong relationship” between Turkey and the West.

In a statement, a Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Sunak and Mr Erodgan had spoken since his election victory was confirmed.

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Turkey election: ‘This is an historic vote’

“The prime minister reiterated the strong relationship between the United Kingdom and Turkey, as economic partners and close NATO allies,” a spokesperson said.

“The leaders agreed to continue working closely together to address shared challenges.”

Five more years

With 99% of the votes counted, Mr Erdogan, who served as prime minister from 2003 to 2014, won with a share of 52.1%.

It means he has secured a record-breaking third term as president and will serve at least five more years in power.

Polls closed at 5pm local time (3pm BST) and while votes were counted fast, for hours it remained too close to call. At one point, less than a percentage point separated the incumbent from his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Shortly after 8pm local time (6pm BST) Mr Erdogan stepped out of his home and thanked people for “giving us the responsibility to rule for the next five years”.

Opponent refuses to admit defeat

Kemal Kilicdaroglu took the stage earlier this evening, and in a rousing speech, he refused to admit defeat.

“I wasn’t able to defend your rights,” Kilicdaroglu began by saying. “I did not shirk against an unjust structure, I could not be a silent devil and I was not.

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Erdogan: ‘Bye, bye, bye Kemal’

“I could not stand quiet against millions of people becoming second-class citizens in this country.

“I could not let them stand all over your rights. For your children to go to bed hungry. For farmers to not to be able to produce. I could not allow these things.”

He concluded by thanking the 25 million people who voted for him – and says the “battle continues”.

First presidential run-off in Turkey’s history

The pair were forced to go head-to-head when neither reached the required 50% of the vote in the first round on 14 May and Mr Erdogan’s win will have profound consequences for Turkey, and the wider world.

The two candidates offered sharply different visions of the country’s future and its recent past.

Mr Erdogan’s government vetoed Sweden’s bid to join NATO and purchased Russian missile-defence systems, which prompted the US to oust Turkey from a US-led fighter-jet project.

But it also helped broker a crucial deal that allowed Ukrainian grain shipments and averted a global food crisis.

Meanwhile, Mr Erdogan’s 74-year-old challenger promised to restore a more democratic society.

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