Tansu Çiller

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Tansu Çiller
22nd Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
25 June 1993 – 6 March 1996
President Süleyman Demirel
Preceded by Süleyman Demirel
Succeeded by Mesut Yılmaz
Personal details
Born (1946-05-24) 24 May 1946 (age 68)
Istanbul, Turkey
Political party True Path Party
Spouse(s) Özer Uçuran Çiller
Alma mater Robert College
University of New Hampshire
University of Connecticut

Tansu Penbe Çiller (Turkish: [ˈtansʊ tʃiˈlːæɾ]; born 24 May 1946) is a Turkish economist, academician and politician who was the 22nd Prime Minister of Turkey from 1993 to 1996. She is Turkey's first and only female prime minister to date.

Background and early career[edit]

Çiller was born at Istanbul; her father was a Turkish governor of Bilecik Province during the 1950s. She graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College after finishing the American College for Girls in Istanbul. She received her M.S. from the University of New Hampshire and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. She later completed her postdoctoral studies at Yale University.

Çiller taught economics at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1978, she became a lecturer at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and in 1983 she was appointed as professor by the same institution. She also worked in the now-defunct Istanbul Bank as president of the company.

Political career (1990–2002)[edit]

Çiller entered politics in November 1990, joining the conservative True Path Party (DYP). She was first elected to the parliament in 1991 as deputy representing Istanbul and served as Minister of State in charge of economics in the coalition government of Süleyman Demirel. (49th government of Turkey)

Prime Minister (1993–1996)[edit]

After the death in office of President Turgut Özal (which according to some was part of the 1993 alleged Turkish military coup), DYP Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel won the 1993 presidential election on 16 May 1993. On 13 June Çiller became the party's leader and on 25 June, the Prime Minister of the DYP-Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) coalition government. (50th government of Turkey)

Following the death of Özal, the Castle Plan to attack the PKK (previously approved by the National Security Council) was put into effect (although elements of the strategy preceded the official Plan). Çiller declared on 4 October 1993: "We know the list of businessmen and artists subjected to racketeering by the PKK and we shall be bringing their members to account." Beginning on 14 January 1994, almost a hundred people were kidnapped by commandos wearing uniforms and travelling in police vehicles and then killed somewhere along the road from Ankara to Istanbul. Abdullah Catli, a leader of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves and an organized crime figure, demanded money from people who were on "Çiller’s list", promising to get their names removed. One of his victims, Behçet Cantürk, was to pay ten million dollars, to which Casino King Ömer Lütfü Topal added a further seventeen million. However, after receiving the money, he then went on to have them kidnapped and killed, and sometimes tortured beforehand.[1]

The EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement was signed in 1995 and came into effect in 1996 during Çiller's government. In March 1995 the 1995 Azeri coup d'état attempt took place; official reports following the 1996 Susurluk scandal suggested Çiller and others in the government had supported the coup attempt, which aimed to reinstall Ebulfeyz Elçibey as president.

After the withdrawal of the Republican People's Party (CHP) from the coalition in October 1995 (the SHP had split, merged, and renamed itself) Çiller attempted to form a minority government, which failed in less than a month.(51st government of Turkey) After that she agreed to form another cabinet (52nd government of Turkey) with the CHP and went for general elections, which took place in December 1995. Coalition negotiations were protracted, and Çiller remained in office at the head of the DYP-CHP coalition until March 1996, when the DYP formed a coalition with the Motherland Party, with Mesut Yılmaz becoming Prime Minister.

Çiller was still prime minister during the January 1996 Imia/Kardak crisis with neighbouring Greece.

One of Çiller's major achievements was to transform the Turkish Army from an organization using vintage equipment from the US Army into a modern fighting force capable of defeating the PKK, using hit-and-run tactics. She also convinced the U.S. government to list the PKK as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which was later followed by the acceptance of the same by the European Union.

Deputy Prime Minister (1996–1997)[edit]

With the creation of the Motherland Party-DYP coalition in March 1996 under Mesut Yılmaz (53rd government of Turkey), Çiller became Minister of Foreign Affairs and deputy Prime Minister. After the coalition collapsed in June 1996, the DYP joined a new coalition with the Welfare Party, under Necmettin Erbakan, with Çiller retaining her positions.

After the November 1996 Susurluk car crash, which prompted the Susurluk scandal, she praised Abdullah Çatlı, who died in the crash, saying: "Those who fire bullets or suffer their wounds in the name of this country, this nation, and this state will always be respectfully remembered by us."[2][3]

As deputy Prime Minister, Çiller declared that if Greece tried to divide Albania, it would have the Turkish Army in Athens 24 hours later.[4][5]

Erbakan's Welfare Party resigned from government following the February 1997 military memorandum. DYP and others expected to form a government under Çiller, but President Süleyman Demirel asked ANAP leader Mesut Yılmaz to form the new government instead.

Later career[edit]

She was investigated by the Turkish Parliament on serious corruption charges following her period in government. Along with another former Prime Minister, Mesut Yılmaz, she was later cleared of all the charges mainly due to technicalities such as the statute of limitations and parliamentary immunity. At the end of 1998, the corruption files about Yılmaz and Çiller were covered up at the commissions of the Parliament in a common action staged by DYP, ANAP and DSP MPs.[6]

She remained leader of the DYP until 2002; after its November 2002 election defeat, she retired from political life.

Tansu Çiller is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Personal life[edit]

Tansu Çiller is married to Özer Uçuran Çiller and they have two sons, Mert and Berk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nezan, Kendal (5 July 1998). "Turkey's pivotal role in the international drug trade". Le Monde diplomatique. 
  2. ^ Lucy Komisar, Turkey's terrorists: a CIA legacy lives on,[dead link] The Progressive, April 1997.
  3. ^ 1998 Report from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, chapter II, "SUSURLUK SCANDAL: Counter-guerilla Affairs", pp. 39–86 (see note on p. 39)
  4. ^ "PANGALOS/GR-TURK.RELATIONS". hri.org. 
  6. ^ 1998 Report from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, p. 11.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Süleyman Demirel
Leader of the True Path Party
Succeeded by
Mehmet Ağar
Political offices
Preceded by
Süleyman Demirel
Prime Minister of Turkey
Succeeded by
Mesut Yılmaz
Preceded by
Nahit Menteşe
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
Succeeded by
İsmet Sezgin
Preceded by
Emre Gönensay
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
İsmail Cem