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August 28, 2014 AT 8:00 AM
Recep Tayyip Erdogan will cement his position as modern Turkey's most powerful leader when he is sworn in as president on Thursday, advancing his drive to reshape the country--but heralding what critics fear will be an increasingly authoritarian rule. In a final speech to supporters of his AK Party on Wednesday, he spoke of his move from the prime minister's office to the presidential palace as the birth of a new Turkey. However, he vowed that the AK's mission to elevate the country as a major regional power would go on unchanged after he left party politics.