Özal, Turgut

Özal, Turgut
born Oct. 13, 1927, Malatya, Tur.
died April 17, 1993, Ankara

Prime minister (1983–89) and president (1989–93) of Turkey.

After studying electrical engineering, he oversaw Turkey's electrification program in the 1950s and '60s. After working as a World Bank economist for most of the 1970s, he was elected prime minister as head of his own Motherland Party in 1983 and was reelected in 1987. In 1989 he persuaded the parliament to make him president, a traditionally nonpolitical position, and used the office to claim for Turkey an important role in the Persian Gulf War (1990–91).

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▪ 1994

      Turkish politician (b. Oct. 13, 1927, Malatya, Turkey—d. April 17, 1993, Ankara, Turkey), dominated Turkish politics for nearly a decade; as prime minister (1983-89) and president (1989-93), he pushed Turkey onto the world stage through free-market economic reforms and closer commercial and political ties with the West. Ozal studied electrical engineering at Istanbul Technical University (M.S., 1950) and economics during a brief stay in the U.S. (1952-53). He oversaw the construction of hydroelectric power stations in Turkey's massive electrification program and served as a technical adviser to the Defense Ministry, the State Planning Organization (SPO), and Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel. In 1967 he was named SPO undersecretary. After Demirel was ousted in a military coup (1971), Ozal worked in the private sector and at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. (1971-73). Demirel regained power in 1975, and Ozal resumed his post at the SPO four years later. In 1980, after the military once again took control, Ozal stayed on to direct his painful but ultimately successful economic austerity program. In 1983 he formed the Motherland Party, which won the general election later that year and put him at the head of a new civilian government. By the time he became president in 1989, Ozal had revived the economy, increased external trade, strengthened Turkey's commitment to NATO, and applied to join the European Community. In 1990 he used Turkey's pivotal geographic location to command a central role in the Western-Arab alliance against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and after the breakup of the Soviet Union the next year, he offered his secular Muslim government as a role model for the newly independent Central Asian republics.

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▪ president of Turkey
born Oct. 13, 1927, Malatya, Turkey
died April 17, 1993, Ankara

      Turkish politician, prime minister from 1983 to 1989 and president from 1989 to 1993.

      Özal studied electrical engineering at Istanbul Technical University, where he met the future prime minister Süleyman Demirel (Demirel, Süleyman). Özal became an under secretary at the Turkish State Planning Organization (1967–71), and during the 1970s he worked as an economist for the World Bank. In 1979 he became an adviser to Demirel's government. When the military overthrew Demirel in 1980, Özal was asked to stay on as deputy prime minister. He implemented a program of economic reforms, including the lifting of exchange controls and extensive liberalization of trade. In 1982 he was forced to resign over a banking scandal.

      In 1983 Özal became prime minister after the right-of-centre Motherland Party (ANAP), of which he was the founder, won a majority in parliamentary elections; the party won again in 1987. As prime minister Özal continued his free-market, Western-oriented economic policies. He sponsored Turkey's unsuccessful bid to join the European Community (EC) in 1987. Toward the end of the decade his popularity began to decline, partly because of persistent inflation and rising unemployment; critics also claimed that he behaved like an autocrat and that he tolerated human-rights violations. Özal responded in 1989 by having the parliament elect him president, a post traditionally regarded as above politics; he was thus able to retain high office after the ANAP's 1991 electoral defeat. He then set out to expand the role of the president. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he led Turkey to join the United Nations coalition against Iraq; he also supported increased rights for Turkey's Kurdish minority.

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Universalium. 2010.

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