Advocating staunch Islamist
political views during his university years, Gül became a Member of Parliament
in 1991 and was re-elected in 1995
. Initially a member of the Islamist Welfare Party
, Gül joined the Virtue Party
in 1998 after the former was banned for anti-secular activities. When the party split into hardline Islamist and modernist factions in 2000, Gül joined fellow party member Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
in advocating the need for reform and moderation. He ran against serving leader Recai Kutan
for the Virtue Party leadership at a time when Erdoğan was banned from holding political office. As the candidate for the modernist camp, he came second with 521 votes while Kutan won 633. He co-founded the moderate Justice and Development Party
(AKP) with Erdoğan in 2001 after the Virtue Party was shut down in the same year, while hardline conservative members founded the Felicity Party
Gül became Prime Minister after the AKP won a landslide victory in the 2002 general election
while Erdoğan was still banned from office. His government
removed Erdoğan's political ban by March 2003, after which Erdoğan became an MP for Siirt
in a by-election
and took over as Prime Minister. Gül subsequently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister until 2007. His subsequent bid for the Presidency drew strong and highly vocal opposition from ardent supporters of secularism in Turkey
and was initially blocked by the Constitutional Court
due to concerns over his Islamist political background.
He was eventually elected
Turkey's first President with a background in Islamic politics after the 2007 snap general election
As President, Gül came under criticism for giving assent to controversial laws which have been regarded by the political opposition as unconstitutional
In June 2013, he signed a bill restricting alcohol consumption into law despite initially indicating a possible veto, which was seen as a contributing factor to sparking the 2013–14 anti-government protests
Other controversies included a law tightening internet regulation in 2013,
a law increasing political control over the judiciary in 2014 designed to protect then Prime Minister Erdoğan and others from corruption charges
and a law giving the National Intelligence Organisation
(MİT) controversial new powers also in 2014.
Gül took a mediating approach during the Gezi Park anti-government protests
and government corruption scandals
Gül was born in Kayseri
, central Anatolia
on 29 October 1950, the 27th anniversary of the proclamation of Turkish independence, also known as Republic Day
in Turkey. His father is Ahmet Hamdi Gül, a retired air force mechanic, and his mother is Adviye Satoğlu. 
Gül studied Economics at Istanbul University
. During his graduate education, he spent two years (1976-78) in London and studied at the University of Exeter
in the United Kingdom. Returning to Turkey in 1978, he became an instructor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at Sakarya University while working on his doctoral research on Turkey's economic relations with other Muslim countries.
He received his PhD from Istanbul University in 1983. Between 1983 and 1991, he worked at the Islamic Development Bank
(IDB) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
. He was conferred an honorary PhD degree from Amity University, Noida
on 8 February 2009, and a LL.D
from the University of Dhaka
on 13 February 2010.
Entry into politics
Gül became acquainted with politics early during his high school years. During his university education, he became a member of the Islamist
-nationalist Millî Türk Talebe Birliği
(National Turkish Students' Union) in the line of Necip Fazıl
's Büyük Doğu
In 1999, he kept his seat as a member of the Fazilet Partisi
(FP, "the Virtue Party
") which was subsequently outlawed by the Constitutional Court for its violation of the Constitution. Its predecessor, the Refah Partisi
, was also outlawed by the Constitutional Court for its violation of the Constitution, especially the principle of secularism. By this time, Gül had apparently moderated his views and was reportedly considered to be part of the Virtue Party's reformist faction. Since 1993 in Ankara, he had been organizing an informal think-tank involving a group of Refah politicians who were discontented with the leadership of Necmettin Erbakan: these included Melih Gökçek, Bülent Arınç, Abdüllatif Şener, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Beşir Atalay. In August 2001, this group founded the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi
(Justice and Development Party
), a party which billed itself as a moderate conservative party in the European tradition.
He was elected once again to represent Kayseri in 2002.
An interview he gave in 2002 summarizes his criticisms of the Refah Partisi under the leadership of Necmettin Erbakan and his portrayal of the AKP as a moderate party:
In the Welfare Party, there were groups demanding sharia rule. Welfare did not represent the local values we are now cultivating. The ideology of the party was partially shaped by alien imports. [He was referring to the impact of the Islamist ideology of the Iranian Revolution and Arab states on Welfare's ideology.] Our vision was at odds with the rest of the party. The despotic rule of Erbakan Hoca made it impossible for us to realize our vision under the rubric of the National View. We believe that modernization and being Muslim complement each other. We accept the modern values of liberalism, human rights, and market economy.
After becoming foreign minister
in March 2003, Gül became the key player in Turkey's attempts to receive an accession date for the European Union
and in its attempts to improve relations with Syria
and maintaining its relationship with the Turkic
-speaking countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus
. On 8 January 2008, Gül flew to the United States to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush
and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Abdullah Gül in 2010.
Prime Minister Erdoğan
announced on 24 April 2007 that Gül would be the Justice and Development Party candidate in the 2007 presidential election
. Previously, there had been speculation that Erdoğan himself would be the party's candidate, which had provoked substantial opposition from secularists.
When a boycott of opposition parties in Parliament deadlocked the election process, Gül formally withdrew his candidacy on 6 May 2007. If elected he would be the first president to have been involved with Islamist parties. But a few days later, on 11 May 2007 when he inquired after the alterations to the Turkish constitution
which now allowed the people to elect the president directly rather than a parliamentary vote, Gül announced that he was still intending to run.
Following the July 2007 parliamentary election
, the AKP renominated Gül as its presidential candidate on 13 August; the election was again held as a vote of parliament.
On 14 August, Gül submitted his candidacy application to parliament and expressed his commitment to secularism at a news conference.
On 28 August 2007, he was elected president in the third round of voting; in the first two rounds, a two-thirds majority of MPs had been required, but in the third round he needed only a simple majority. Gül was sworn in immediately thereafter.
The process was a very low-key affair.
Gül's swearing-in was not attended by the Chief of the Turkish General Staff
and was boycotted by the opposition Republican People's Party
; then the hand-over of power at the presidential palace was held behind closed doors. Gül's wife was not present. The traditional evening reception hosted by the new president at the presidential palace for the country's highest authorities was announced for 11:30 in the morning and wives were not invited.
His presidency was described as a "new era in Turkish politics", for being the first president of Turkey with a background in Islamic politics.
Gül received messages of congratulation from the US, EU and German authorities while Turkey's prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan
made a statement saying "a structure doomed to uncertainty has been overcome".
In September 2008 Gül became the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia
where, in meetings with President Serzh Sarkisian, the two leaders formulated a solution to the tendentious problem of the genocide question, sparking a major debate in Turkey, but both the Armenian and Turkish parliaments refused to ratify the agreement.
In November 2011, President Gül led a state visit to the United Kingdom as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II
The President met political and business leaders, visited the Olympic Park
and was guest of honour at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace
In November 2013, Gül called on Muslim countries to fight against what he called Islamophobia during his address at the 29th session of the COMCEC
in Istanbul. he said:
Islamophobia remains a critical problem, which instigates unsubstantial prejudices against our region and Muslims. Terror plays a role in the persistence of such problems. We have to combat any form of deviation playing into the hands of people who equate terrorism with Islam, the religion of love, tolerance and conciliation.
Statements on the Middle East
Gül has been a critic of Israel and Western countries which established relations with Israel at the expense of Palestine.
After the Israeli raid
on the MV Mavi Marmara
in 2010, he advocated the complete ending of diplomatic relations with Israel, stating that "Israel will turn into a complete apartheid regime in the next 50 years if it does not allow for the establishment of an independent and proud Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem. That is why we are exerting efforts to achieve a fair peace with a strategic point of view, which is to Israel's own interests."
On 31 December 2012, he stated with respect to the Arab spring
and democratization of the Arab world: "But democracy is not only about elections. The task of creating essential democratic institutions – the rule of law, habits of accountability, gender equality, and freedom of expression and faith – still awaits these countries".
History of titles
Honours and medals
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Last edited on 8 June 2021, at 15:54
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