Former president and prime minister of Turkey Süleyman Demirel passed away

Former president and prime minister of Turkey Süleyman Demirel passed away

Ankara, June 18, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

The generals overthrew him two times and he came back three more

“Suleyman the shepherd”, “Father”, “The king of dams”, were some of his nicknames

By Manolis Kostidis

Former president and prime minister of Turkey Süleyman Demirel passed away at the age of 91.

He was one of the most prominent figures of Turkey for nearly half a century. His governments were overthrown twice by military coups, but he always made a comeback and managed to reach the highest office of the country from 1993 to 2000.

“Save us father” was the slogan of the party’s supporters during his election rallies, as they believed he would bring them a better life.

The turkish newspapers gave him the title “king of dams”, because prior to his involvement in politics was among the most important engineers who built dams on the Euphrates and the Tigris.

“Suleyman the shepherd” was another title that reminded to the Turks his origin, as well in his childhood he was a shepherd in Isparta.

Since 1965, Demirel ruled Turkey for more than 11 years as head of seven governments, and then occupied the post of president from 1993 to 2000. He began his political career in 1960 after the first military coup. Two of his terms in the office of prime minister were interrupted by the other two military coups that took place in Turkey by the military in 1971 and 1980.

He was known for his rhetorical charisma, but also for his sayings.

When journalists asked about the promises he was not fulfilling, his response was “yesterday was yesterday and today is today”.

Also famous is his statement on the student demonstrations in Turkey in the 60’s. While his political opponents were calling for the blockage of the demonstrations, he had stated that “the roads are not worn out by walking”, allowing the people to carry on with the marches.

Those who speak against him, claim that in the military coup of 1971 “left his hat and walked away” once the pashas sent him a warning letter.

At the same time, the Islamists accuse him that as president in 1996 he collaborated with the generals and did not give to the Islamist Necmetin Erbakan a mandate to form a government, while he conspired to create the Yilmaz-Ciller government.

Demirel died Wednesday at Guven Hospital in Ankara after a severe respiratory infection.

After the completion of his presidential term, he never stopped giving advice to the political class and to give important interviews to newspapers and television networks. He was the “Mitsotakis of Turkey” as a friend politician told IBNA.