Abdullah Gül

His Excellency
Abdullah Gül
11th President of Turkey
In office
28 August 2007  28 August 2014
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Preceded by Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Succeeded by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
18 November 2002  14 March 2003
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Deputy Abdüllatif Şener
Mehmet Ali Şahin
Ertuğrul Yalçınbayır
Preceded by Bülent Ecevit
Succeeded by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
28 March 2003  28 August 2007
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Served with Abdüllatif Şener
Mehmet Ali Şahin
Preceded by Ertuğrul Yalçınbayır
Succeeded by Cemil Çiçek
40th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
14 March 2003  28 August 2007
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Preceded by Yaşar Yakış
Succeeded by Ali Babacan
Minister of State
In office
28 June 1996  30 June 1997
Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan
Member of the Grand National Assembly
In office
20 October 1991  28 October 2007
Constituency Kayseri (1991, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2007)
Personal details
Born (1949-10-29) 29 October 1949
Kayseri, Turkey
Political party Welfare Party (Before 1997)
Virtue Party (1997–2001)
Justice and Development Party (2001–2007)
Independent (2007–present)
Spouse(s) Hayrünnisa Özyurt (1980–present)
Children Ahmet Münir
Mehmet Emre
Alma mater Istanbul University
University of Exeter
Religion Sunni Islam
Signature Abdullah Gül's signature.png
Website Official website

Abdullah Gül,[1] i/ɡl/ (Turkish pronunciation: [abduɫˈɫɑh ˈɟyl]; born 29 October 1949) is a Turkish politician who served as the 11th President of Turkey, in office from 2007 to 2014. He previously served for four months as Prime Minister from 2002 to 2003, and concurrently served as both Deputy Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister between 2003 and 2007. He is currently a member of the Advisory Panel for the President of the Islamic Development Bank.[2]

Advocating staunch Islamist political views during his university years, Gül became a Member of Parliament for Kayseri in 1991 and was re-elected in 1995, 1999, 2002 and 2007. Initially a member of the Islamist Welfare Party, Gül joined the Virtue Party in 1998 after the latter 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 on behalf of Erdoğan, who was banned from holding political office at the time. 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 instead.

Gül became Prime Minister after the AKP won a landslide victory in the 2002 general election, since Erdoğan was still banned from office. His government had 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.[3] He was eventually elected Turkey's first Islamist President after the 2007 snap general election.[4][5][6]

As President, Gül has come under criticism for giving assent to controversial laws which have been regarded by the political opposition as unconstitutional.[7][8] 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.[9] Other controversies included a law tightening internet regulation in 2013,[10] a law increasing political control over the judiciary in 2014[11] and a law giving the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) controversial new powers also in 2014.[12] Gül took a mediating approach during anti-government protests and government corruption scandals.[13]

Early life

Gül was born in Kayseri, central Anatolia on the 26th anniversary of the proclamation of Turkish independence. His father is Ahmet Hamdi Gül, a retired air force mechanic, and his mother is Adviye Satoğlu.[14][15]


Gül studied economics at the Istanbul University. During his graduate education, he studied for two years in London and Exeter in the United Kingdom. Whilst in the UK he was on the Executive Committee of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS). He pursued an academic career after that and worked at the higher education facilities in Adapazarı, collaborating in the establishment of the Department for Industrial Engineering and teaching management courses at the ITU Sakarya Engineering Faculty, which later became the Sakarya University in 1992. He served at Faculty of Political Sciences at Sakarya University, then Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, for a while.[16] He received a PhD from the Istanbul University in 1983. He was conferred an honorary PhD degree from Amity University, NOIDA-India on 8 February 2009, and a LL.D from the University of Dhaka on 13 February 2010.[17] Between 1983 and 1991, he worked at the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 1991, he became a lecturer in international management.

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 (Grand Orient) current.[18]

He was elected a member of the Turkish parliament for the Refah Partisi (RP, "the Welfare Party") from the Kayseri electoral district in 1991 and 1995. During these years, he made statements about the political system of Turkey that was designed by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Turkish National Movement, which included "This is the end of the republican period" and "The secular system has failed and we definitely want to change it".[19] These statements caused controversy when his candidacy for the 2007 presidential election was announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[20]

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. He was a co-founder of 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.[21]

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.[22]

AKP career

Prime minister

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gül in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., 2003

After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the most votes in the November 2002 general election, Gül was appointed Prime Minister, as AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was unable to assume the role due to a ban on his participation in politics. After Gül's government secured legislation allowing Erdoğan's return to politics, the latter took over as prime minister on 14 March 2003. He was appointed deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

Foreign minister

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.[23]

Presidency: 2007–14

Gül with U.S. President Barack Obama on Obama's first visit to Ankara, 6 April 2009.

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.[24][25] 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.[26][27]

Following the July 2007 parliamentary election, the AK Party renominated Gül as its presidential candidate on 13 August; the election was again held as a vote of parliament.[28] On 14 August, Gül submitted his candidacy application to parliament and expressed his commitment to secularism at a news conference.[29]

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.[30] The process was a very low-key affair.[31]

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.[32]

His presidency was described as a "new era in Turkish politics", for being the first president of Turkey with an Islamist background.[33]

Gül awarded "Statesman of the Year" by Queen Elizabeth II, 2010.

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".[34]

In September 2008 Gül became the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia, sparking a major debate in Turkey.[35] In November 2011, President Gül led a state visit to the United Kingdom as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II.[36] 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.[37]

Statements on the Middle East

Abdullah Gül speaking on the Middle East at the Halifax International Security Forum 2014

Gül has been a critic of Israel and Western countries which established relations with Israel at the expense of Palestine.[38] 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."[39]

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".[40][41]

History of titles

Honours and medals

National honours

Ribbon bar Award or decoration Country Date Place Note Ref.
Medal of Honor of the Republic of Turkey  Turkey 28 August 2014 Ankara [43][44]

Foreign honours

Ribbon bar Award or decoration Country Date Place Note Ref.
Pro Merito medal by European Council  European Union 2002 Brussels [45]
First Class Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud  Saudi Arabia 9 November 2007 Ankara The order was named after Abdulaziz Al Saud. [46]
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath  United Kingdom 13 May 2008 Ankara British order of chivalry. [47]
Medal of the tenth anniversary of the capital city of Astana  Kazakhstan 4 July 2008 Astana [48]
Necklace of Independence  Qatar 17 August 2009 Istanbul [45][49]
Grand Collar of the Order of Prince Henry  Portugal 12 May 2009 Ankara Portuguese National Order of Knighthood. [50]
Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic  Italy 17 November 2009 Ankara The highest ranking honour of the Italian Republic [51]
Collar of the Order of Mubarak the Great  Kuwait 21 December 2009 Kuwait City [52]
2010 Chatham House Prize  United Kingdom 20 March 2010 London Gul awarded "Statesman of the Year" by Queen Elizabeth II. [53]
Order of Valour  Cameroon 16 March 2010 Yaoundé Second highest order in Cameroon. [54]
Nishan-e-Pakistan  Pakistan 31 March 2010 Islamabad Pakistan's highest civil order. [55][56]
Grand Cross with Chain Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary  Hungary 15 November 2011 Ankara The highest state order and second class of Hungary. [57]
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion  The Netherlands 16 April 2012 Amsterdam Netherlands' Lion, established in 1815. [58]
Order of the Golden Eagle  Kazakhstan 11 October 2012 Ankara The highest decoration of Kazakhstan. [59]
Knight of the Order of the Seraphim  Sweden 11 March 2013 Stockholm The highest order awarded by Swedish Royalty [60][61]
St. George's Order of Victory  Georgia 19 April 2013 Ankara Second highest state decoration awarded by President of Georgia. [62]
Star of President Order  Turkmenistan 29 May 2013 Ashgabat The first order given to foreign president in Turkmenistan. [63][64]
Grand Cross with Collar of Order of St. Olav  Norway 5 November 2013 Ankara The highest ranking honour of the Kingdom of Norway. [65]
Heydar Aliyev Order  Azerbaijan 12 November 2013 Ankara The highest national order of Azerbaijan. [66][67]
Knights of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau  Luxembourg 18 November 2013 Ankara The highest national order in Luxembourg. [68][69]
Magtymguly International Prize  Turkmenistan 3 June 2014 Ankara [70][71]
Order of the State of Northern Cyprus  Northern Cyprus 19 July 2014 Northern Nicosia The highest national order in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. [72][73]
Danaker Order  Kyrgyzstan 8 September 2014 Istanbul The highest national order in Kyrgyzstan. [74][75]


2012 - After a Turkish warplane was shot down by Syria due to violations of borders:, ... It is not possible to cover over a thing like this, whatever is necessary will be done ... It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over (national) borders ... when you consider their speed over the sea ... These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets' speed.[76]

See also


  1. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey : Abdullah GÜL
  2. "Islamic Development Bank". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  3. Ercan Yavuz (31 July 2008) "Evidence indicates Ergenekon tried to block presidential election" Archived 14 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine., todayszaman.com; retrieved 9 February 2009.
  4. "Gül'ün adaylığını doğru bulmuyoruz". CNN Türk (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2007.
  5. Turks elect ex-Islamist president, bbc.co.uk; retrieved 9 February 2009.
  6. Gul sworn in as Turkey's first former Islamist president, dailymail.co.uk; retrieved 9 February 2009.
  7. President Gül bids farewell to rule of law Archived 22 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine., todayszaman.com; accessed 15 February 2015.
  8. Turkish main opposition takes judicial bill to constitutional court, hurriyetdailynews.com; accessed 15 February 2015.
  9. 2013–14 anti-government protests in Turkey over restrictions on alcohol, eurasianet.org; accessed 15 February 2015.
  10. Turkey passes law tightening internet regulation, reuters.com; accessed 15 February 2015.
  11. Gül signs judicial law increasing political control over the judiciary, hurriyetdailynews.com; accessed 15 February 2015.
  12. Gül signs law giving MİT new powers Archived 22 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine., todayszaman.com; accessed 15 February 2015.
  13. Rifts emerge between Erdoğan and Gül, voanews.com; accessed 15 February 2015.
  14. Kurt, Süleyman. "'Cumhur' İkinci Kez Köşk Yolunda". Zaman (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2007.
  15. "'Ergenekon davasında mahkemeler görevini yapacak'". Milliyet (in Turkish). 27 July 2008. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
  16. Sakarya Üniversitesi » Yazılım Grubu. "Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi - Değerlerimiz". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  17. "Doctor of Laws degree conferred on Abdullah Gül". The Daily Star. 13 February 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  18. "Abdullah Gul's Unknown Sides/Exclusive". World Bulletin (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2007.
  19. "Cumhuriyet bitmiş". Milliyet. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  20. "Abdullah Gül: The Man Who Would be Turkey's President". Deutsche Welle (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 23 August 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2007.
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  22. Güneş Murat Tezcür, Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey: The Paradox of Moderation, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010, p. 157.
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  31. "Generals Protest Against Gül's Presidency". Turkish Daily News. Hürriyet. 29 August 2007.
  32. Koylu, Hilal. "Köşk'e ilk davet eşsiz". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  33. Amberin Zaman (29 August 2007). "Turkey elects Islamist president Abdullah Gül", Telegraph.co.uk; retrieved 10 February 2009.
  34. "Türkiye'nin 11. Cumhurbaşkanı Abdullah Gül". Radikal (in Turkish). 29 August 2007.
  35. "Gül in landmark visit to Armenia". BBC News. 6 September 2008. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  36. British Monarchy website "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  37. Speech by Gül against Islamophobia, worldbulletin.net; accessed 15 February 2015.
  38. Abdullah, Gul to discuss Palestine, bilateral relations, Turkish News, 3 February 2009.
  39. "Turkish president warns Israel". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  40. "Europe and the Middle East in 2013", project-syndicate.org; accessed 15 February 2015.
  41. Profile Archived 24 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine., tccb.gov.tr; accessed 15 February 2015.(Turkish)
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  43. "Türkiye'nin İlk Seçilmiş Cumhurbaşkanı" (in Turkish). Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  44. Photo
  45. 1 2 "Biography of Abdullah Gül". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 2002. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  46. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey
  47. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey
  48. "Foreign visits:Kazakhstan". www.abdullahgul.gen.tr. 4 July 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  49. "Türkiye-Katar: Her Konuda Tam Mutabakat". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 17 August 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  50. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Archived 6 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  51. Photo (President Napolitano present Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.) Presidency of the Republic of Turkey
  52. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Photo)
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  54. Photo (President Paul Biya present th award.) Presidency of the Republic of Turkey
  55. "Turkish President awarded Nishan-i-Pakistan". Associated Press of Pakistan. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  56. Photo of Nishan-e-Pakistan
  57. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Photo)
  58. Photo of President receiving the Order. His wife has received The Order of the Crown
  59. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Photo)
  60. Noblesse et Royautes (French), State visit of Turkey in Sweden, Gala dinner, March 2013
  61. Photo
  62. "Biography of Abdullah Gül (Turkish)". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  63. "Туркменистан: золотой век". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  64. Photo
  65. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Photo)
  66. "Çankaya köşkündə Azərbaycan və Türkiyə prezidentlərinin təltif edilməsi mərasimi olmuşdur. president.az" (in Azerbaijani).
  67. Photo
  68. "Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg at the Çankaya Presidential Palace". Presidency of the Republic of Turkey. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  69. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Photo)
  70. "President Gül Hosts Official Dinner in Honor of President Berdimuhamedov". Presidency of the Republic of Turkey. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  71. Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (Photo)
  72. "President Gül Decorated with KKTC's Order of State". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  73. "Eroğlu'ndan Gül'e "KKTC Devlet Nişanı"" (in Turkish). Anadolu Agency. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  74. "Kırgızistan'dan 11. Cumhurbaşkanı Gül'e devlet nişanı" (in Turkish). Anadolu Agency. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  75. "Түркиянын экс-Президенти Абдуллах Гүл "Данакер" ордени менен сыйланды" (in Kyrgyz). www.president.kg. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  76. "Turkish warplane downed by Syria 'may have crossed border'". BBC News. Retrieved 24 May 2016.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Abdullah Gül.
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Party political offices
New office Deputy Leader of the Justice and Development Party
Succeeded by
Cemil Çiçek
Political offices
Preceded by
Bülent Ecevit
Prime Minister of Turkey
Succeeded by
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Preceded by
Mehmet Ali Şahin
First Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
Succeeded by
Cemil Çiçek
Preceded by
Yaşar Yakış
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ali Babacan
Preceded by
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
President of Turkey
Succeeded by
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
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