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Abdullah Gül

Abdullah Gül was born in Kayseri on October 29, 1950. The Gül family takes its name from Kayseri's Gülük Mosque. Gül's ancestors, members of a family tree that can be traced to the 13th century, were among the first imams of this Seldjuk-era mosque. His grandfather Hayrullah Efendi, a veteran of the Turkish War of Independence, was a businessman. His mother, Adviye Gül, whose father was a poet and a teacher, is a member of the Satoglu family, an old and established family in Kayseri. Abdullah Gül's father, Ahmet Hamdi Gül worked as a foreman at the Aircraft Factory, which was the first industrial facility in Kayseri. Father Gül is a well-known and respected individual for his contributions to social life. After retirement, Ahmet Hamdi Gül established his own business in 1972 and is still running business in industry.

After he graduated from Kayseri High School, he continued his education at Istanbul University in the Department of Economics. He spent two years in London and Exeter for his academic studies while pursuing his PhD. He received his doctoral degree from Istanbul University in 1983. Gül served in the establishment of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Sakarya University where he taught economics to engineering students for five years. He became an associate professor in international economics in 1991 at Istanbul University. He worked as an economist at the headquarters of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah from 1983 to 1991.

He was elected to Parliament from the ranks of the Welfare Party in the first election in which he participated. He was elected from Kayseri as a Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) for five consecutive terms between 1991-2007. He led the Reformist Movement and competed for the Chairmanship of the Virtue Party in 2000. Abdullah Gül ran as a candidate for the Chairmanship of the Virtue Party in 2000. Although he lost the election by a very narrow margin, the outcome was considered a great success. The political movement that started as the Reformist Movement has found its voice in the modern political arena as the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Gül was among the leading figures in the establishment of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). He served as the Deputy Chairman in charge of Legal and Political Affairs.

After the general elections on November 3, 2002, Abdullah Gül formed the 58th government of the Republic of Turkey as the Prime Minister on November 18, 2002. He was immediately faced with difficult issues, such as the crisis in Iraq and the conflict in Cyprus. Gül was the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the 59th Government, which was established on 14 March 2003, and served in the 59th Government from 2003 to 2007.

Gül's candidacy for the presidency was announced on April 24, 2007. The AK Party's aspirations for the Presidency provoked a strong reaction from the secular forces in the country. The military began to articulate its unrest more vociferously than ever. During a press conference on 12 April 2007, the Chief of General Staff Yaşar Büyükanıt commented that the armed forces hoped that the next president would be somebody who would commit himself to the basic values of the republic, including secularism, not only in words, but also in substance. The top commanders made it clear that they would not remain silent if somebody from the AK Party, particularly Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, would be elected president.

Most likely because of these strong reactions of the secular forces, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 24 April 2007 put forward not himself, but Abdullah Gül, one of the founding members of the AK Party and Foreign Minister in the AK Party Government at the time, as the AK Party's candidate for the Presidency. Gül's candidacy stirred up as much opposition as Erdoğan's candidacy would have done. Gül's ties with the Islamist 'National Outlook Movement', his negative comments on the principle of secularism in the past, and his headscarved wife132 were cited as evidence for Gül's anti-secular stance.

Representatives of the secular forces underlined that the Presidency was the 'last bastion of secularism' and could not be handed over to anti-secular forces. The military issued a statement 28 April 2007 - an 'ememorandum' according to many - on the 'Official Website of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff'. With particular reference to the debates in the process of the election of the president, the top commanders stated that: "It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces are a side in this debate and are a staunch defender of secularism. The Turkish armed forces are against those debates ... and will display their position and attitudes when it becomes necessary. No one should doubt that."

Because of the interruption of the presidential election process, the TBMM decided to hold early elections. Gül was elected for a fifth term as a member of parliament from Kayseri on July 22, 2007. Once the new parliament convened, the first item of the agenda was the presidential election, and Gül again became a candidate. Abdullah Gül was elected by the TBMM as the eleventh President of the Republic of Turkey on August 28, 2007.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:06:54 ZULU