Gul… Turkey's Diplomat President

CAIRO — Soft-spoken, ever-smiling Abdullah Gul will bring more to the Cankaya presidential palace than the first hijab-clad first lady in Turkey's modern history as his critics would like to have people believe.

For his followers, many liberal Turks and Turkey's western allies, the respected, moderate politician has championed far-reaching democratic and human rights reforms in the Muslim-dominant country.

Gul, 56, is also the main architect of Turkey's accession talks to make true the long-cherished dream of joining the European Union.

Unlike incumbent President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, an austere and reclusive secular judge, Charismatic Gul speaks fluently both English and Arabic.

Over the years, he has developed friendships with many world leaders and dignitaries.

He also has helped fostering good relations with the United States and Middle Eastern countries since he rose in the political arena.

The 550-member parliament on Tuesday, August 28, elected Foreign Minister Gul as president, with 339 votes, well above the simple majority of 276 votes required in the decisive third round ballot.

He is set to be sworn in at parliament at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) before he formally takes over from Sezer in a ceremony closed to the press at 7:30 pm (1630 GMT).

Gul's close relationship with Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the majority of lawmakers is expected to facilitate the passage of more political, economic and constitutional reforms.

In Turkey, the government holds most power but the president can veto laws, veto appointments of officials, appoint judges and is commander in chief of the military.

Skilled Politician

Secularists claim that Gul, born in 1950 in the conservative city of Kayseri, harbors a secret Islamist agenda that he will implement once he becomes president.

He was a young man when he joined the "National View" movement of Necmettin Erbakan - who went on to become the country's first Islamist premier.

In 1991, he was elected to parliament for Erbakan's Refah Partisi (Welfare Party).

From 1996 to 1997, Gul served as minister of state and spokesman for Turkey's first Islamist-led government.

Following the outlawing of the RP in 1999, he was re-elected to parliament as a member of the Fazilet Partisi (the Virtue Party), Welfare's successor.

Gul has repeatedly denied having an Islamist agenda and pledged to be a ruler for all Turks and respect the country's institutions.

"The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state based on the rule of law," Gul said earlier this month.

"Protecting and strengthening these principles would be my first priority."

Gul has vowed to resign his post within the ruling Justice and Development party and operate as a president for all Turks.

Gul's meteoric rise in politics came when he became a founder member of the AKP in 2001.

When the AKP won the 2002 general elections, he was called in to act as a caretaker prime minister for Erdogan, who was at the time legally barred from holding the post.

Gul stepped down after nearly three and a half months in office to become deputy premier and foreign minister.

The high point of his tenure came in 2005, when the EU launched membership talks with Ankara in response to ceaseless lobbying by Gul and Erdogan.

Gul saw his support grow after his party helped bring impressive economic achievements since it swept to power five years ago.

Gul graduated in economics from Istanbul University in 1971 and received a PhD there in 1983. He also studied in the UK.

Between 1983 and 1991, Gul worked at the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Saudi Arabia.

He married Hayrunisa Ozyurt, his first cousin, in 1980 and they have two sons and a daughter.

Answering critics about her hijab, Gul's answer to secularists was that he will be president and not his wife.

Source: Islam Online

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3:49 am ×

They made the hijab issue sounds so political. It doesnt make sense.(Not following the new trend?, They are so Westernized..?)

Even the problem that we have with our minister's wife bothers me. A LOT.

Making the image of so-called 'negara islam' sounds so silly.

Congrats bro niealex you got PERTAMAX...! hehehehe...