Turgut Özal (also known with his beloved nickname, uncle chubby prime minister) was born in Malatya at 1927. He worked as the prime minister and then the president of Turkey between 1980-1989. He won admire of the public by recovering the Turkish economy and industry after the civil dispute between 1970 and 1980’s. He lead to introduce new technologies to the country such as computers and cell phones. Throughout his prime ministery, the “Fatih Sultan Mehmet” (FSM) bridge was completed at 1988 which connected Asia and Europe through vehicle way. He also lead to initiate the huge “GAP” project which involves building a network of massive hydro-dams around southeastern Turkey, so as to increase agricultural and industrial activity (for a remainder, due to its arid climate, water sources in southeastern Turkey are not abundant).
His childhood and education was passed at different cities because of his father’s teaching profession. He was graduated from electrical engineering in İstanbul Technical University at 1950. He already started to join social activisits when he was studying at university. At those times, he and his brother founded the social club “The Club for Presenting İstanbul for Anatolians”.
He first started to work as an electrical engineer at one of the state institutions. He was first married at 1952; yet, this marriage was short. Then, he married with Semra Özal, who would become the First Lady when Özal became the president, after a very long time. After working for a short month as an engineer in the state, the state sent him to America for taking an advanced education in his profession. When he came back, he became the director of the state institution where he had worked. At 1959, Özal made his obligatory soldier duty along with Süleyman Demirel who would later become president after Özal. At 1960, Özal was a soldier when the first military coup occured which abolished the government of prime minister Adnan Menderes, After, his military duty, Özal again came back to his first job; yet he also attended to the works for constituting State Planning Organization (DPT), which would later get him step into politics.
At 1965, Demirel became the prime minister, and Özal started to work as his assistant. Then, at 1967, he became the head of DTP and further insisted the the government plan was to foster the development of private-sector activity in the country by joining them into the state plans At 1971, a second military coup occured. At that time, Özal left his work at DPT, and went to America. Till 1973, he worked at the Industrial Department of World Bank as a consultant for industry and mining. When he returned back to Turkey, he worked as an manager at different private sectors involving banking, steel, automobile, textile, food and metal-shaping. He was a candidate at the national election in 1977 to become a deputy at Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM); however, he lost the elections. He later became a union leader of metalware-industry groups. In 1979, he was the councilor of Süleyman Demirel who was the second-time prime minister. Also, he became the high-ranking official at DPT again. Within this term he signed the famous, formal “24 January” decisions which allowed for foreign investment activities in Turkey.
At 1980, another coup was performed under Kenan Evren. The coup constituted a new government and Özal was assigned as a vice president. He carried this duty for almost 2 years, then resigned at 1982. After his resignation, he founded the Anavatan Party (ANAP) in 1983 which would later have a tremendous impact on Turkish history. In the same year, his party decisively won the general election (over 211 deputy positions of 400 were taken by ANAP) and Özal became the prime minister of Turkey. After four years, his party again won the following election at 1987 with 292 seats at the TBMM, In 1988, he survived from an assasination attempt during the grand congress of ANAP. What he said just after this attempt was written in the history:
After Kenan Evren left the president seat, Özal was selected as a president at 1989. Till 1990, he visited Balkans, and also Central-Asia where most of the Turkish-Origined Countries exist) in order to make Turkey an active country throughout the region. However, his body did not bear the rhythm of these long trips, and he passed away at 1993 at Ankara. He was buried at Topkapı in İstanbul, along with Adnan Menderes. Today, a lot of Muslim people is visiting and praying for Turgut Özal.
In my point of view, the reason why Özal became an influential, strong leader in Turkey was not just his extreme intelligence, but also he experienced at too many different sectors in both private and state institutions at Turkey where he learned how to improve the economic and industrial activities of Turkey. He also changed the old-fashioned, state-supported industry to private-sector-based industry, which was perhaps the main reason for economic development.
The theme of this article was only about how Özal became an influential leader in improving industry and economics of Turkey. However, he also made great deal in foreign relations to solve regional conflicts around Turkey. However, our scope is not available to expand this.
Finally, we want to give an advertisement below, produced for the opening of FSM bridge where Turgut Özal and Semra Özal played as an actor and actress. In the advertisement, his words “Semra, please put a cassette to the tape so then we’ll have joy” became also a historical recording.