President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underscored Friday that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) served both the west and east of the country equally. "For the first time, all 81 provinces of Turkey have received the services they deserved and the developmental gap between the west and the east has closed under AK Party rule," Erdoğan said in an election rally held in northeast Turkey's Ardahan province. Mentioning past terrorist attacks in the eastern cities of the country, Erdoğan noted that the people of Ardahan stand against terrorism by not supporting the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), whose municipalities dug trenches for the terrorist organization. He added that although the HDP is not entering the local elections in the province, its ally, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), represents the party.
Erdoğan also criticized the CHP for separating Turkey by region and for confining itself to only "coastal cities," referring the party's stronghold İzmir. He promised that the AK Party would always serve every province equally, without separation.
He noted that the AK Party made a TL 290 billion investment, including TL 33 billion for agriculture and TL 59 billion for social assistance in the east and southeast provinces, while the number of universities increased from six to 18 in these provinces. Three years ago, brutal PKK aggression led to three key provinces in southeastern Anatolia, Diyarbakır, Şırnak and Hakkari, suffer from terrorist activities. Due to the prolonged attacks, when peace was finally reached, the provinces were faced with heavily damaged cityscapes, as infrastructure and public spaces, such as schools and mosques were no longer functional. Today, all three provinces have been revived thanks to the reconstruction work of the state, leaving memories of the PKK's terrorist activities behind. So far, thousands of houses, workplaces, mosques and schools have been restored by various state institutions under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.
Stressing that almost all the people living in the province voted for him in the June 24 presidential elections, Erdoğan noted that he expects a record-high vote from the city in the upcoming local elections.
Touching on his projects in the province, Erdoğan said the party would build people's gardens in city centers where families spend quality time. Accordingly, a museum and people's reading houses will also be included in Ardahan's people's garden along with facilities distributing free tea to university students.
Commenting on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway line project, Erdoğan indicated that this project is also a project of Ardahan since it will contribute to trade, tourism and all other sectors in the city by connecting the city, the Caucasus and the Black Sea in Central Asia. He added that another important AK Party project would be the construction of the Sahara Tunnel.
The 826-kilometer BTK railway, described as the Silk Railway, began operating in October 2017, linking Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. In the railway's first year, 110,000 tons of goods were transported. Trains leaving Turkey pass through Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Transportation operations continue via destinations including Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.