By Bülent Keneş, Today's Zaman
Finally the presidential election, a subject of debate and tension for almost the entire past year, ended yesterday and Abdullah Gül was elected president after winning the highest percentage of votes in the history of Turkey's presidential elections.
I would like to congratulate him with great sincerity for his success. Gül's presidency is an unprecedented victory for Turkey's democracy and will be recorded in history as such.
If democracy stipulates reflecting the public will in all administrative mechanisms, then we can expect President Gül to restructure all state institutions so as to comply with the public's strong will and expectations.
On the contrary, not to expect the public's democratic reflex to echo in the state mechanism or the opposition of such a natural process would be simply futile.
So what kind of a president should Gül be? What should he do first? What type of actions should he take? Should he dismiss the inaccurate criticisms and baseless suspicions about himself? How can he hint at what he plans to do in Çankaya over the next seven years?
In the first weeks as president, Gül will have to display an extraordinary performance so that the presidential post is not still evaluated by his and his wife's identity.
As the national arbitrator he should combine the increasing dynamism of the Turkish people with the state's organized power and experience.
With the resulting powerful synergy, he should be the driving force for a greater and faster improvement. Humbly I constructed a "to do list" which I recommend President Gül should glance at.
1) After being sworn in and receiving the presidency from Sezer yesterday evening, President Gül should immediately welcome each nongovernmental organization that represents a different part of society, such as the Sunnis, Alevis, workers, employers, farmers, industrialists, westerners, easterners, leftists and rightists and understand what they expect from him as the president. Of course President Gül should also welcome political parties from both ends of the political spectrum and listen to them too.
2) His visits to the military, Supreme Council, Higher Education Board and other state institutions should be more than just courtesy visits. He should attempt to understand the sensitivities of these institutions and try to shape relations with them bearing in mind common sensitivities.
3) Within the first week, or at least before he visits any other country, he must travel the entire nation. He should begin his tour from the Southeast, in fact he should start from Hakkari.
He should not just meet with the bureaucracy and security officials in the region, but he should arrange mass meetings with the regional public.
He should embrace people both in İstanbul and in Hakkari and he must repeat this in many cities such as Edirne, İzmir, Adana, Trabzon, and Rize.
The purpose of these visits should be to show the public that he is not the president of just the administrative elite, but for everyone. People should be able to feel deep down that he is everyone's president -- be they Turk, Kurd, Circassian, Laz, Alevi, Sunni, Armenian or Russian.
He must be able to prove that national unity and solidarity is not strictly dependent on a sulky power enforcement associated with the state, but that it can also be achieved by developing sympathy and empathy and by embracing each other.
4) After his predecessor Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who acted as though he was president of just the state and elitist oligarchy and remained isolated in the Çankaya Palace away from the people with his cold and banal character, President Gül should open the Çankaya Palace to the public.
He should prove that it is not just the state's highest point but that it is the place where the state meets the public. In this regard he should immediately put an end to the "public area" nonsense that Sezer started.
5) After he completes his nationwide tour and obtains the support of the public, President Gül should begin fulfilling the actions most expected of him; diplomatic initiatives, and international visits. I am certain that economic circles are anticipating these high-profile and enlightening visits, which were last held during the term of the late Turgut Özal.
However President Gül should have a plan when conducting these visits. He should place equal importance on all countries. He should visit Western countries, Christian countries, Muslim countries, and neighboring and far countries alike.
He should also visit Central Asian Turkish republicans. Mending the years of neglect at a presidential level, he should again strengthen relations with these sister countries.
As Today's Zaman's headline put it yesterday, "Gül boosts expectations from the presidency." In all, a high profile statesman such as President Gül should not have trouble responding to these expectations.