Abdullah Gül is the fifth president of the Republic of Turkey and the first modern Turkish head-of-state from an Islamist background. Facing intense secularist opposition to his political career, Gül has maintained a focus on democratic reform. As prime minister and subsequently as foreign minister, Gül pursued a pro-active foreign policy and largely succeeded in striking a balance between Turkey’s traditional Western-anchored foreign policy priorities and its new interests in the Middle East and the Muslim world.
Education and Work
Gül completed his basic education in his native Kayseri and then went on to study economics at Istanbul University, where he also received his doctoral degree in 1983. He then moved to Jeddah working as an economist at the Islamic Development Bank. In 1989, Abdullah Gül became an associate professor of International Economics at Istanbul University. He decided to enter politics in 1991.
Career in Politics
Gül was a member of both the Refah Partisi (elected to parliament in 1991 and 1995) and then the Fazilet Partisi (elected to parliament in 1999) both of which were outlawed by the Constitutional Court for their violation of the Constitution (especially the principle of secularism). He then helped found the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party), and was elected to represent Kayseri in 2002. He briefly served as Prime Minister (during the period Recep Erdogan was banned from politics), and then assumed the Foreign Minister post from 2003- 2007.
When the AKP announced Gül as their candidate for President in 2007, there was a boycott by opposition parties in parliament which led to a deadlock. Gül’s evident adherence to Islam (with his wife wearing a head scarf ) was seen as a direct threat to Turkey’s secularism. When he did become President, his swearing-in was boycotted by the Chief of the Turkish General Staff and the opposition Republican People’s Party.
Influence through Pragmatic Leadership
Gül’s political influence in Turkey and abroad derives from his ability to reconcile the demands of a predominantly religious electorate with those of the secular establishment of the Turkish Republic. Together with Erdogan, Gül has worked to expand the sphere of democratic rights in Turkey, which in turn has benefited the predominantly traditional and religious segments of Turkish society. Gül continues to play a significant role in the current efforts to find a lasting solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue. Gül was also the first Turkish politician to visit Armenia.
The Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, has again hinted he is prepared to challenge the country's authoritarian prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in presidential elections next summer that could decide the increasingly vexed question of who runs Turkey.
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Turkish President Abdullah Gül shakes hand with Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle at the Çankaya Presidential Palace in Ankara, Nov. 8. AA photo. President Abdullah Gül said on Nov. 8 he expected European Union member countries to accelerate the ...
Turkish President Abdullah Gül arrives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he traveled to attend to the third Turkey-Britain Tatlı Dil (Silver Tongue) Forum. AA photo. Murat Yetkin firstname.lastname@example.org. The debate on the headscarf should be removed from ...
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It was an open secret in Ankara that Erdoğan was reluctant to see Gül at the presidential post and preferred a low-profile AK Party personality for the Çankaya Mansion. The significance of the political support he received from Arınç is undeniable in ...and more »
"Our aim is to show the world that a country which has a majority Muslim population can also be democratic, transparent and modern, and cooperate with the world."