A presidential system is key to Turkish democracy and development, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

In his address to local officials known traditionally as mukhtars at the presidential palace in capital Ankara, Erdogan said: "Many countries governed by a presidential system are leaps and bounds ahead of others in the region in terms of both democracy and development.

"That's to say, the main issue here is to rightly correlate the country's targets and regime. Here it is: Turkey has a need for determining its governance system in accordance with its own needs."

The adoption of a presidential system to replace the parliamentary model that has existed in Turkey since 1923 was an issue highlighted in last year’s two general elections.

Supported by his former party, the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Erdogan has repeatedly expressed his wish to change to a presidential system.

The president, elected in August 2014 having previously served three terms as prime minister, said Turkey had never been so close to major political reform.

"Whoever turns his back to this reality has taken his place in the dusted shelves of history," he said.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is currently in talks with opposition parties over the drafting of a new constitution to replace the charter introduced by military rulers in 1982.

"One of the issues that should be focused [on] and discussed within the constitutional efforts is the presidential system," Erdogan said.

Turning to foreign affairs, the president said Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 prisoners Saturday, including a prominent Shia Muslim cleric whose death has caused major regional recriminations, was a matter of "domestic law".

Referring to the prisoners, he said: "Forty-six of those who were executed are Sunni and they are executed because they are affiliated with al-Qaeda. One of them was a Shia religious leader. This decision was previously taken and Saudi Arabia implemented it. This is their decision."

He went on to criticize those who remained silent over the deaths of more than 400,000 Syrians.

"You are giving your support [to the Syrian regime] either implicitly or openly," he said in an apparent reference to Iran. "You are giving financial and weapons support to the murderer Assad," Erdogan said.

"The Saudi Arabian embassy [in Iran] was hit with rocket launchers. Its embassy in Iraq was also vandalized. This is not acceptable in terms of international relations."

Iran is a key backer of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, whose downfall Ankara has made a key foreign policy plank.

Following the execution of cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, friction increased between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked, resulting in a breakdown in diplomatic ties.

The regional rivals support opposing sides in the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars and there are fears that the heightened tension will stifle efforts to bring peace to the region.

Erdogan also discussed the ongoing conflict in Turkey’s southeast between security forces and PKK terrorists. He claimed the police and military took care not to harm "innocent citizens" caught up in the violence during curfews imposed on urban centers.

"This, indeed, causes the operations, which could be done in a very short time, to take longer periods of time," he said.

Last month, the president said more than 3,100 PKK terrorists had been killed in Turkey and northern Iraq. Around 300 soldiers, police and civilians have lost their lives since the conflict reignited in late July, according to officials.

Anadolu Agency