Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the thoughtless imitation of the West has caused Turkey the greatest damage.

"At the heart of political and economic independence lies spiritual independence. The growing power of the Western world has made it unhealthy to discuss this issue in our society. The thoughtless imitation of the West has caused the greatest damage to our republic," Erdogan said in an address at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a building of the university, Erdogan added that at present, when "Turkey has regained confidence in political, economic and military terms, such discussions have begun to be conducted on more equitable terms," but that the “promotion of national traditions in education and culture has not yet been reached to the desired level.”

Turkey’s robust population of Westernized youth has often played critical roles in politics and has been the driving force behind many protests and opposition movements in urban centers. Support for Erdogan and his AKP party has waned considerably among Western-minded citizens, especially in Istanbul, where Erdogan’s hand-picked candidate lost in back-to-back mayoral elections in 2019.