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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

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The Turkish national anthem with an image of Mustafa Kemal and the Turkish national flag.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Indeterminate, 1881 - 10 November 1938) was a Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, and founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first President.

Atatürk became known as an extremely capable military officer by being the only undefeated Ottoman commander during World War I.[1] Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, he led the Turkish national movement in the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies of World War I. His successful military campaigns led to the liberation of the country and to the establishment of Turkey. During his presidency, Atatürk embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms. An admirer of the Age of Enlightenment, he sought to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, democratic, and secular nation-state. The principles of Atatürk's reforms, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as Kemalism.

Early life

Born as Mustafa, his second name Kemal (meaning Perfection or Maturity) was given to him by his mathematics teacher in recognition of his academic excellence.[2] In his early years, his mother encouraged Mustafa to attend an Islamic school, something he did reluctantly and only briefly. Later, he attended Şemsi Efendi school (a private school with a more secular curriculum) at the direction of his father. His parents wanted him to have education in a trade, but without consulting them, Atatürk took an entrance exam for a military junior high school in Thessaloniki (in Turkish, Selanik, which was an Ottoman city at that time) in 1893. In 1896, he enrolled into a military high school in the Ottoman city of Manastır (modern Bitola, Macedonia). In 1899, he enrolled at the War College in Istanbul and graduated in 1902. He later graduated from the War Academy on 11 January 1905.

Military career

Following graduation, he was assigned to Damascus as a lieutenant. He joined a small secret revolutionary society of reformist officers called Vatan ve Hürriyet ("Motherland and Liberty"). In 1907, he was promoted to the rank of captain and assigned to Manastır. He joined the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP, 'Young Turks'). However, in later years he became known for his opposition to, and frequent criticism of, policies pursued by the CUP leadership. In 1908, he played a role in the Young Turk Revolution which seized power from Sultan Abdülhamid II. In 1910, he took part in the Picardie army maneuvers in France. In 1911, he worked at the Ministry of War for a short time. Later in 1911, he was posted to the Ottoman province of Trablusgarp (present-day Libya) to fight in the Italo-Turkish War. He returned to the capital in October 1912 following the outbreak of the Balkan Wars. During the First Balkan War, he fought against the Bulgarian army at Gallipoli and Bolayır on the coast of Thrace. In 1913, he was appointed military attaché to Sofia and promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1914.

In 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered European and Middle Eastern theatres of World War I on the side of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). Mustafa Kemal was given the task of organizing and commanding the 19th Division attached to the Fifth Army during the Battle of Gallipoli. Mustafa Kemal became the outstanding front-line commander after correctly anticipating where the Allies would attack and holding his position until they retreated. Following the Battle of Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal served in Edirne until 14 January 1916. He was then assigned to the command of the XVI Corps of the Second Army and sent to the Caucasus Campaign. The massive Russian offensive had reached the Anatolian key cities. On 7 August, Mustafa Kemal rallied his troops and mounted a counteroffensive.[3] Two of his divisions captured not only Bitlis but the equally important town of Muş, greatly upsetting the calculations of the Russian Command.[4] On 7 March 1917, Mustafa Kemal was appointed from the command of the XVI Corps to the overall command of the 2nd Army. The Russian Revolution erupted and the Caucasus front of the Czar's armies disintegrated.[3] Mustafa Kemal had already left the region and was assigned to the command of the 7th Army at the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. He returned to Aleppo on 28 August 1918, and resumed command. Mustafa Kemal retreated towards Jordan to establish a stronger defensive line against the British forces that won against the German commander Liman von Sanders' troops at the Battle of Megiddo. Mustafa Kemal was appointed to the command of Thunder Groups Command (Turkish:Yıldırım Orduları Gurubu), replacing Liman von Sanders. Mustafa Kemal's position became the base line for the Armistice of Mudros.

Kemal's last active service in the Ottoman Army was organizing the return of the troops who were left behind the south of his line. Mustafa Kemal returned to an occupied Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), the Ottoman capital, on 13 November 1918. Along the established lines of partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, British, Italian, French and Greek forces began to occupy Anatolia. The occupation of Constantinople along with the occupation of İzmir mobilized the establishment of the Turkish national movement and the Turkish War of Independence.[5]

War of Independence

Mustafa Kemal's active participation in the national resistance movement began with his assignment as a General Inspector to oversee the demobilization of remaining Ottoman military units and nationalist organizations. On 19 May 1919, he reached Samsun. His first goal was the establishment of an organized national resistance movement against the occupying forces. In June 1919, he and his close friends declared that the independence of the country was in danger. He resigned from the Ottoman Army on 8 July and the Ottoman government issued a warrant for his arrest. Later, he was condemned to death.

Mustafa Kemal called for a national election to establish a new Turkish Parliament that would have its seat in Ankara.[6] On 12 February 1920, the last Ottoman Parliament gathered in the capital. This parliament was dissolved by British forces after it declared the Misak-ı Milli ("National Pact"). Mustafa Kemal used this opportunity to establish the "Grand National Assembly" (GNA). On 23 April 1920, the GNA opened with Mustafa Kemal as the speaker. On 10 August 1920, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Damat Ferid Pasha signed the Treaty of Sèvres. It finalized the plans for the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, including the regions that Turkish nationals viewed as their heartland. Mustafa Kemal insisted on complete independence and the safeguarding of the interests of the Turkish majority on Turkish soil. He persuaded the GNA to gather a National Army. The Army faced the Allied occupation forces and fought on three fronts: in the Franco-Turkish, the Greco-Turkish and the Turkish-Armenian wars. After a series of initial battles during the Greco-Turkish war, the Greek army advanced as far as the Sakarya River, just eighty kilometers west of the GNA. On 5 August 1921, Mustafa Kemal was promoted to Commander in chief of the forces by GNA.[7] The ensuing Battle of Sakarya was fought from 23 August to 13 September 1921 and ended with the defeat of the Greeks. The Allies, ignoring the extent of Kemal's successes, hoped to impose a modified version of the Treaty of Sèvres as a peace settlement on Ankara, but the proposal was rejected. In August 1922, Kemal launched an all-out attack on the Greek lines at Afyonkarahisar, the Battle of Dumlupınar and finally the Turkish forces regained control of Smyrna (modern day Izmir) on September 9, 1922.[8] On September 10 1922, Mustafa Kemal sent a telegram to the League of Nations saying that on account of the excited spirit of the Turkish population, the Ankara Government would not be responsible for massacres.[9]

The Conference of Lausanne began on 21 November 1922. Turkish representative İsmet İnönü refused any proposal that would compromise Turkish sovereignty,[10] major matters regarding the control of Turkish finances, the Capitulations, the Turkish Straits, justice, and the like. On 24 July 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. The final outcome of the independence war came with the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 23.


With the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, efforts to modernise the country started. The institutions and constitutions of Western states such as France, Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland were analyzed and adapted according to the needs and characteristics of the Turkish nation. Highlighting the public's lack of knowledge regarding Kemal's intentions, the public cheered: "We are returning to the days of the first caliphs".[11] In order to establish reforms, Mustafa Kemal placed Fevzi Çakmak, Kazım Özalp and İsmet İnönü in important political positions. Mustafa Kemal capitalized on his reputation as an efficient military leader and spent the following years, up until his death in 1938, instituting wide-ranging and progressive political, economic, and social reforms. In doing so, he transformed Turkish society from perceiving itself as Muslim subjects of a vast Empire into citizens of a modern, democratic, and secular nation-state.

Domestic policies

A basic political principle for Kemal was the complete independence of the country.[12] He clarified his position:

" complete independence, we mean of course complete economic, financial, juridical, military, cultural independence and freedom in all matters. Being deprived of independence in any of these is equivalent to the nation and country being deprived of all its independence."[13]

He led wide-ranging reforms in social, cultural, and economical aspects. As a result, the new Republic's backbone of legislative, judicial, and economic structures was put in place with these reforms.

Mustafa Kemal created a banner to mark the changes between the old Ottoman and the new Republican rule. Each change was symbolized as an arrow in this banner. The new citizens of the Republic, who had been subjects of the Ottoman Empire only a few years ago, carried this banner to remind them of the major concepts of this new establishment. This defining ideology of the Republic of Turkey is referred to as the "Six Arrows" or Kemalist ideology. Kemalist ideology is based on Mustafa Kemal's conception of realism and pragmatism.[14] The fundamentals of nationalism, populism and etatism were all defined under the Six Arrows. These fundamentals were not new in world politics or, indeed, among the elites of Turkey. What made them unique was that these interrelated fundamentals were formulated specifically for Turkey's needs. A good example is the definition and application of secularism; the Kemalist secular state significantly differed from predominantly Christian states.

Emergence of the state, 1923–1924

Mustafa Kemal's private journal entries dated before the establishment of the republic in 1923 show that he believed in the importance of the sovereignty of the people. In forging the new republic, the Turkish revolutionaries turned their back on the perceived corruption and decadence of cosmopolitan Istanbul and its Ottoman heritage.[15] For instance, Ankara became the country's new capital. It was a provincial town deep in Anatolia that turned into the center of the independence movement. He wanted a "direct government by the Assembly"[16] and visualized a representative democracy, parliamentary sovereignty, where the National Parliament would be the ultimate source of power.[16] However, in the following years, he took the position that the country needed an immense amount of reconstruction, and that "direct government by the Assembly" could not survive in such an environment. The revolutionaries regularly faced challenges from the supporters of the old Ottoman regime, and also from the supporters of relatively new ideologies such as communism and fascism. Mustafa Kemal saw the consequences of fascist and communist doctrines in the 1920s and 1930s and rejected both.[17] He prevented the spread of totalitarian party rule which held sway in the Soviet Union, Germany and Italy.[18] Some perceived his opposition and silencing of these ideologies as a means of eliminating competition, others believed it was a necessary means to protect the young Turkish state from succumbing to the instability of new ideologies and competing factions.

The heart of the new republic was the GNA. The GNA was established during the Turkish War of Independence by Mustafa Kemal.[19] The elections were free and an egalitarian electoral system that was based on a general ballot was used.[19] The role of deputies at the GNA was to be the voice of Turkish society by expressing its political views and preferences. It had the right to select and control both the government and the Prime Minister. Initially, it also acted as a legislative power, controlled the executive and, if necessary, acted as an organ of scrutiny under the Turkish Constitution of 1921.[19] But the Turkish Constitution of 1924 set a loose separation of powers between the legislative and the executive organs of the state, whereas the separation of these two within the judiciary system was a strict one. Mustafa Kemal, then the President, occupied a powerful position in this political system.

The single-party regime was established de facto in 1925 after the adoption of the 1924 constitution. The only political party of the GNA was the "Peoples Party" that was founded by Mustafa Kemal in the initial years of the independence war. On 9 September 1923 it was renamed as the Republican People's Party (Turkish: "Cumhuriyeti Halk Partisı").

Civic independence and the Caliphate, 1924–1925

Abolition of the Caliphate was an important dimension in Mustafa Kemal's drive to reform the political system and to promote the national sovereignty. The Caliphate was the core political concept of Sunni Islam, by the consensus of the Muslim majority in the early centuries.[20] Abolishing the sultanate was easier because the survival of the Caliphate at the time satisfied the partisans of the sultanate. This produced a two-headed system with the new republic on one side and an Islamic form of government with the Caliph on the other side. Kemal and İnönü worried that "it nourished the expectations that the sovereign would return under the guise of Caliph...[21]" Caliph Abdülmecid II was elected after the abolishment of the sultanate (1922). The Caliph had his own personal treasury and also had a personal service that included military personnel; Mustafa Kemal said that there was no "religious" or "political" justification for this. He believed that Caliph Abdülmecid II was following in the steps of the sultans in domestic and foreign affairs: accepting and responding to foreign representatives and reserve officers, and participating in official ceremonies and celebrations.[22] He wanted to integrate the powers of the Caliphate into the powers of the GNA. His initial activities began on 1 January 1924.[22] He acquired the consent of İnönü, Çakmak and Özalp before the abolition of the Caliphate. The Caliph made a statement to the effect that he would not interfere with political affairs.[23] On 1 March 1924, at the Assembly, Mustafa Kemal said:

"The religion of Islam will be elevated if it will cease to be a political instrument, as had been the case in the past."[24]

On 3 March 1924, the Caliphate was officially abolished and its powers within Turkey were transferred to the GNA. The debate as to the validity of Turkey's unilateral abolition of the Caliphate was taken up by other Muslim nations in order to decide whether they should confirm the Turkish action or appoint a new Caliph.[23] A "Caliphate Conference" was held in Cairo, Egypt in May 1926 and a resolution was passed declaring the Caliphate "a necessity in Islam", but failed to implement this decision.[23] Two other Islamic conferences were held in Mecca (1926) and Jerusalem (1931), but failed to reach a consensus.[23] Turkey did not accept the re-establishment of the Caliphate and perceived it as an attack to its basic existence; while Mustafa Kemal and the reformists continued their own way.[25]

The removal of the Caliphate followed with an extensive effort to establish the separation of governmental and religious affairs. Education was the cornerstone in this effort. In 1923, there were three main horizontal educational institutions. The first and most common institution was medreses (madrassas, local schools) based on Arabic, the Qur'an and memorization. The second type of institution was idadî and sultanî which were the reformist schools of the Tanzimat era. The last group was the colleges and minority schools in foreign languages that used the latest teaching models in educating pupils. The old medrese education was modernized.[26] Mustafa Kemal changed the classical Islamic education with a vigorously promoted reconstruction of educational institutions along the line of an enlightened pragmatism.[26] Kemal linked educational reform to the liberation of the nation from dogma, which he believed was more important than the Turkish war of independence.

"Today, our most important and most productive task is the national education [unification and modernization] affairs. We have to be successful in national education affairs and we shall be. The liberation of a nation is only achieved through this way."[27]

In the summer of 1924, Mustafa Kemal invited American educational reformer John Dewey to Anakara to advise him for the reforms and recommendations.[26] His public education reforms aimed to prepare citizens for roles in public life through increasing the public literacy. He wanted to institute compulsory primary education for both girls and boys; since then this effort has been an ongoing task for the Republic. He pointed out that one of the main targets of education in Turkey had to be raising a generation nourished with what he called the "public culture". The state schools established a common curriculum which became known as the "unification of education." Unification of education was put into force on 3 March 1924 by the Law on Unification of Education (No. 430). With the new law, education became inclusive, and organized and operated on a deliberate model of the civil community. It established a contemporary route to the traditional social structure by causing contemporary citizen consciousness. In this new design all schools submitted their curriculum to the "Ministry of National Education." It was a government agency modeled after other Ministries of Education of its time. Concurrently, the Republic abolished the two ministries and subordinated the clergy to the department of religious affairs. The change was one of the foundations of secularism in Turkey. The unification of education under one curriculum was the end of "clerics or clergy of the Ottoman Empire." It was not the end of Islamic schools in Turkey which were moved to higher education until consequent governments pulled them back to secondary education after Mustafa Kemal's death.

Beginning in the fall of 1925, Mustafa Kemal encouraged the Turks to wear modern European attire.[28] He was determined to force the abandonment of the sartorial traditions of the Middle East and finalize a series of dress reforms, which were originally started by Sultan Mahmud II.[28] The fez was established by Mahmud II in 1826 as part of the Ottoman Empire's modernization effort. The Hat Law of 1925 introduced the use of Western style hats instead of the fez. Mustafa Kemal first made the hat compulsory for civil servants.[28] The guidelines for the proper dressing of students and state employees (or, indeed, anyone, in public space controlled by the state) were passed during his lifetime; many civil servants adopted the hat willingly. In 1925, Mustafa Kemal wore his "Panama hat" during a public appearance in Kastamonu, one of the most conservatively Muslim towns in Anatolia, to explain that the hat was the headgear of civilized nations. The last part of reform on dress emphasized the need to wear modern Western suits and Derby style hats instead of antiquated Islam-based clothing such as the hijab and turban in the Law Relating to Prohibited Garments of 1934.

Even though he personally promoted modern dress for women, Mustafa Kemal never made specific reference to women’s clothing in the law. In the social conditions of the period, he believed that women would adapt to the new way at their own will. He was frequently photographed on public business with his wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head in accordance with Islamic tradition. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern Western clothes. But it was Atatürk's adopted daughters like Sabiha Gökçen and Afet İnan who provided the real role model for the Turkish women of the future. He wrote: "The religious covering of women will not cause difficulty ... This simple style [of headcovering] is not in conflict with the morals and manners of our society."[29]

On 30 August 1925, Mustafa Kemal's view on religious insignia used outside places of worship was introduced in his Kastamonu speech. This speech also had another position. He said: In the face of knowledge, science, and of the whole extent of radiant civilization, I cannot accept the presence in Turkey's civilized community of people primitive enough to seek material and spiritual benefits in the guidance of sheikhs. The Turkish republic cannot be a country of sheikhs, dervishes, and disciples. The best, the truest order is the order of civilization. To be a man it is enough to carry out the requirements of civilization. The leaders of dervish orders will understand the truth of my words, and will themselves close down their lodges [tekke] and admit that their disciples have grown up.[12]

On September 2, the government issued a decree closing down all Sufi orders and the tekkes. Mustafa Kemal ordered their dervish lodges to be converted to museums, such as Mevlana Museum in Konya. The institutional expression of Sufism became illegal in Turkey, but a politically neutral form of Sufism, functioning as social associations, was permitted to exist.

The abolition of the Caliphate and other cultural reforms were met with fierce opposition. The conservative Muslim elements were not happy and they launched attacks on the Kemalist reformists.[23]

Opposition, 1924–1927

In 1924, while the "Issue of Mosul" was on the table, Sheikh Said Piran began to organize the Sheikh Said Rebellion. Sheikh Said Piran was a wealthy Kurdish hereditary chieftain of a local Naqshbandi order. Piran emphasized the issue of Islam; he not only opposed the abolition of the Caliphate, but also the adoption of civil codes based on Western models, the closure of religious orders, the ban on polygamy, and the new obligatory civil marriage. Piran stirred up his followers against the policies of the government, which he considered to be against Islam. In an effort to restore Islamic law, Piran's forces moved through the countryside, seized government offices and marched on the important cities of Elazığ and Diyarbakır.[30] Members of the government saw the Sheikh Said Rebellion as an attempt at a counter-revolution. They urged immediate military action to prevent its spread. The "Law for the Maintenance of Public Order" was passed to deal with the rebellion on 4 March 1925. It gave the government exceptional powers and included the authority to shut down subversive groups (The law was eventually repealed on 4 March 1929).

There were also parliamentarians in the GNA who were not happy with these changes. There were so many members who were denounced as opposition sympathizers at a private meeting of the Republican People's Party (CHP) that Mustafa Kemal expressed his fear of being among the minority in his own party.[31] He decided not to purge this group.[31] After a censure motion gave the chance to have a breakaway group, Kazım Karabekir, along with his friends, established such a group on 17 October 1924. The censure became a confidence vote at the CHP for Mustafa Kemal. On 8 November the motion was rejected by 148 votes to 18, and 41 votes were absent.[31] CHP held all but one seat in the parliament. After the majority of the CHP chose him[31] Mustafa Kemal said, "the Turkish nation is firmly determined to advance fearlessly on the path of the republic, civilization and progress".[31]

On 17 November 1924, the breakaway group officially established the Progressive Republican Party (PRP) with 29 deputies and the first multi-party system began. The PRP's economic program suggested liberalism, in contrast to the state socialism of CHP, and its social program was based on conservatism in contrast to the modernism of CHP. Leaders of the party strongly supported the Kemalist revolution in principle, but had different opinions on the cultural revolution and the principle of secularism.[32] The RPR was not against Mustafa Kemal's main positions as declared in its program. The program supported the main mechanisms for establishing secularism in the country and the civic law, or as stated, "the needs of the age" (article 3) and the uniform system of education (article 49).[31] These principles were set by the leaders at the onset. The only legal opposition became a home for all kinds of differing views.

During 1926, a plot to assassinate Mustafa Kemal was uncovered in İzmir. It originated with a former deputy who had opposed the abolition of the Caliphate and had a personal grudge. The trail turned from an inquiry of the planners of this attempt to an investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities and actually used to undermine those with differing views regarding Kemal's cultural revolution. The sweeping investigation brought before the tribunal a large number of political opponents, including Karabekir, the leader of PRP. A number of surviving leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress, who were at best second-rank in the Turkish movement, including Cavid, Ahmed Şükrü, and Ismail Canbulat were found guilty of treason and hanged.[33] During these investigations there was a link that was uncovered among the members of the PRP to the Sheikh Said Rebellion. The PRP was dissolved following the outcomes of the trial. The pattern of organized opposition, however, was broken. This action was the only broad political purge during Atatürk's presidency. Mustafa Kemal's saying, "My mortal body will turn into dust, but the Republic of Turkey will last forever," was regarded as a will after the assassination attempt.[34]

Modernization efforts, 1926–1930

In the years following 1926, Mustafa Kemal introduced a radical departure from previous reformations established by the Ottoman Empire.[35] For the first time in history, Islamic law was clearly separated from the secular law of the nation and confined to its religious domain.[35] Mustafa Kemal said:

"We must liberate our concepts of justice, our laws and our legal institutions from the bonds which, even though they are incompatible with the needs of our century, still hold a tight grip on us".[36]

On March 1, 1926 the Turkish penal code was passed. It was modeled after the Italian Penal Code. On October 4, 1926, Sharia courts were closed. Establishing the civic law needed time, so Kemal delayed the inclusion of the principle of laïcité until February 5, 1937.

Ottoman practice discouraged the social interaction between men and women aligned with the Islamic practice of sex segregation. Mustafa Kemal began to develop the concepts of his social reforms very early, as was evident in his personal journal. He and his staff constantly discussed issues like abolishing the veiling of women and the integration of women to social life. The clue on how he was planning to tackle the issue was stated in his journal on November 1915;

"The social change can come by (1) educating capable mothers who are knowledgeable about life; (2) giving freedom to women; (3) a man can change his morals, thoughts, and feelings by leading a common life with a woman; as there is an inborn tendency towards the attraction of mutual affection".[37]

Mustafa Kemal needed a new civil code to establish his second major step of giving freedom to women. The first part was the education of girls and was established with the unification of education. On October 4, 1926, the new Turkish civil code passed. It was modeled after the Swiss Civil Code. Under the new code, women gained equality with men in such matters as inheritance and divorce. Mustafa Kemal did not consider gender a factor in social organization. According to his view, society marched towards its goal with all its women and men together. He believed that it was scientifically impossible for him to achieve progress and to become civilized if the gender separation continued as in Ottoman times.[38] During a meeting he declaimed:

"To the women: Win for us the battle of education and you will do yet more for your country than we have been able to do. It is to you that I appeal To the men: If henceforward the women do not share in the social life of the nation, we shall never attain to our full development. We shall remain irremediably backward, incapable of treating on equal terms with the civilizations of the West".[39]

In 1927, advocated by Mustafa Kemal, the State Art and Sculpture Museum (Turkish: Ankara Resim ve Heykel Müzesi) opened its doors. The museum highlighted the art of sculpture, which had hardly been practiced in Turkey owing to the Islamic tradition of avoiding idolatry. Kemal believed that "culture is the foundation of the Turkish Republic."[40] and described modern Turkey's ideological thrust as "a creation of patriotism blended with a lofty humanist ideal." He included both his own nation's creative legacy and what he saw as the admirable values of global civilization. The pre-Islamic culture of the Turks became the subject of extensive research, and particular emphasis was laid upon the fact that, long before the Seljuk and Ottoman civilizations, the Turks have had a rich culture. He instigated the policy of studying the Anatolian civilizations such as the Phrygians and Lydians, foremost of which being the Sumerians and Hittites. To link the cultural signatures of the past into public attention, he personally named the "Sümerbank" (1932) after the Sumerians, and the "Etibank" (1935) after the Hittites. He also stressed the folk arts of the countryside as a wellspring of Turkish creativity.

On November 1, 1928, Mustafa Kemal introduced the Turkish alphabet as a replacement for Arabic script and as a solution to the literacy problem. Literate citizens of the country comprised as little as 10% of the population at the time. Dewey noted that learning how to read and write in Turkish with Arabic script took roughly three years with rather strenuous methods at the elementary level.[26] They used the Ottoman Language written in Arabic script with Arabic and Persian loan vocabulary.[26] The creation of the new Turkish alphabet as a variant of the Latin alphabet was undertaken by the Language Commission (Turkish: Dil Encümeni) with the initiative of Mustafa Kemal.[26] The tutelage was received from an Ottoman-Armenian calligrapher.[41] The first Turkish newspaper using the new alphabet was published on December 15, 1928. Kemal himself actively encouraged people and made many trips to the countryside in order to teach the new alphabet. The adaptation to the new alphabet was very quick. Beginning in 1932, the People's Houses(Turkish: Halk Evleri) opened throughout the country. The older population of Turkey received help at People's Houses. There were congresses for discussing the issues of copyright, public education and scientific publishing. Literacy reform was also supported by strengthening the private publishing sector with a new law on copyrights.

Mustafa Kemal promoted modern teaching methods at the primary education level, and Dewey took a place of honour.[26] Dewey presented a paradigmatic set of recommendations designed for developing societies that are moving towards modernity in his "Report and Recommendation for the Turkish educational system."[26] He was interested in adult education for the goal of forming a skill base in the country. Turkish women were taught not only child care, dress-making and household management, but also the tools that they needed to use in becoming part of the general economy. Turkish education became a state-supervised system, which was designed to create a skill base for the social and economic progress of the country.[42] His "unified" education program was designed to educate responsible citizens as well as useful and appreciated members of society.[26] Turkish education became an integrative system, aimed to alleviate poverty and used female education to establish gender equality.

Mustafa Kemal constantly tried to generate media to propagate modern education during this period. He instigated official education meetings called "Science Boards" and "Education Summits." The quality of education, training issues and certain basic educational principles were discussed at these meetings. He said, "our schools [curriculum] should aim to provide opportunities for all pupils to learn and to achieve." He was personally engaged with the development of two textbooks. The first one was Turkish: Vatandaş İçin Medeni Bilgiler (1930). The second one was Geometry (1937), a text for high schools. The Vatandaş İçin Medeni Bilgiler (Civic knowledge for the citizens) introduced the science of comparative government and explained the means of administering public trust by explaining the rules of governance as applied to the new state institutions.

Opposition, 1930–1931

On August 11, 1930, Mustafa Kemal decided to try a multiparty movement once again and asked Ali Fethi Okyar to establish a new party. He insisted on the protection of secular reforms. The brand-new Liberal Republican Party succeeded all around the country. Without the establishment of a real political spectrum, once again, the party became the center to opposition of Atatürk's reforms, particularly in regard to the role of religion in public life.

On December 23, 1930, a chain of violent incidents occurred, starting with the rebellion of Islamic fundamentalists in Menemen, a small town in the Aegean region. This so-called Menemen Incident was considered a serious threat against secular reforms.

In November 1930, Ali Fethi Okyar dissolved his own party after seeing the rising fundamentalist threat. Mustafa Kemal never succeeded in establishing a long lasting multi-party parliamentary system. A more lasting multi-party period of the Republic of Turkey began in 1945. In 1950 the RPP released the majority position to the Democratic Party. There are arguments that Kemal did not promote direct democracy by dominating the country with his single party rule. The reason behind the failed experiments with pluralism during this period was that not all groups in the country had agreed to a minimal consensus regarding shared values (mainly secularism) and shared rules for conflict resolution. In response to such criticisms, Mustafa Kemal's biographer Andrew Mango said: "between the two wars, democracy could not be sustained in many relatively richer and better-educated societies. Atatürk's enlightened authoritarianism left a reasonable space for free private lives. More could not have been expected in his lifetime."[43] Even though, at times, he did not appear to be a democrat in his actions, he always supported the idea of eventually building a civil society; a system of totality of voluntary civic and social organizations and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society as opposed to the force-backed structures of the state. In one of his many speeches about the importance of democracy, Mustafa Kemal said in the year 1933: "Republic means the democratic administration of the state. We founded the Republic, reaching its tenth year. It should enforce all the requirements of democracy as the time comes."[44]

Modernization efforts, 1931–1938

In 1931, Mustafa Kemal took the lead in establishing the Turkish Language Association for conducting research works in the Turkish language (Turkish: Türk Dil Kurumu). The establishment of the Turkish Historical Society (Turkish: Türk Tarih Kurumu) was archived in 1932 for conducting research works on the history of Turkey. He declared that the advancement of education called for the endeavors of the private sector and he urged Turkish society to take part in the effort.[45] On 1 January 1928, he established the Turkish Education Association.[45] The Association became active in the field of education, supporting intelligent and hard-working children in financial need, as well as making material and scientific contributions to the educational life.

In 1933, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ordered the reorganization of Istanbul University into a modern institution and later established Ankara University in the capital city.[46]

Mustafa Kemal personally dealt with the translation of scientific terminology into Turkish.[47] He wanted the Turkish language reform to be methodologically based. Any attempt to "cleanse" the Turkish language of foreign influence without modeling the integral structure of the language was inherently wrong to him. He personally oversaw the development of the Sun Language Theory (Turkish: Güneş Dil Teorisi), which was a linguistic theory which proposed that all human languages were descendants of one Central Asian primal language. His interest started with the works by the French scientist Hilaire de Barenton entitled L'Origine des Langues, des Religions et des Peuples, ("The Origin of Languages, Religions and Peoples") which postulates that all languages originated from hieroglyphs and cuneiform used by Sumerians,[48] and the paper of Austrian linguist Dr. Hermann F. Kvergić of Vienna entitled La psychologie de quelques elements des langues Turques' ("The Psychology of Some Elements of the Turkic Languages").[49] He introduced the Sun Language Theory into Turkish political and educational circles in 1935. Nevertheless, after 1936, he saw the extremist aspects of this campaign and corrected them.[47]

Beginning in 1932, several hundred "People's Houses" (Turkish: Halk Evi) and "People's Rooms" (Halk Odası) across the country allowed greater access to a wide variety of artistic activities, sports, and other cultural events. The visual and the plastic arts, whose developers had, on occasion, been arrested by some Ottoman officials claiming that the depiction of the human form was idolatry, were now highly encouraged and supported by Atatürk. Many museums were opened, architecture began to follow modern trends, and classical Western music, opera, and ballet, as well as the theatre, also took greater hold. Book and magazine publications increased as well, and the film industry began to grow.

In 1932, the first Qur'an in the Turkish language was read in front of the public.[50] Mustafa Kemal commissioned Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır for a Qur'an translation. Yazir authored the tafsir "Hak Dini Kur'an Dili." His highest goal in the religious field was the translation of the Qur'an into Turkish.[51] He wanted to "teach religion in Turkish to Turkish people who had been practicing Islam without understanding it for centuries"[51] The Turkish Qur'an was fiercely opposed by religious people. It was only in 1935 that the version read in public found its way to print.[52] Mustafa Kemal believed that the understanding of religion was too important to be left to a small group of people. This included the central religious text of Islam. Mustafa Kemal's objective was to make the Qu'ran accessible and modern. By 1936, the Qur'an had already been translated into 102 languages.[53] There is a debate about whether Mustafa Kemal's Turkish Qur'an was the first. There was a polyglot Qu'ran written in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Latin in the tetrapla style. This version of the Qu'ran was prepared by savant Andrea Acolutho of Bernstadt and printed at Berlin in 1701.[54] Arguments concentrate on the previous rare translations, which besides being rare, are difficult for most modern Turkish people to understand because they are written in the Ottoman Turkish language.

In 1934, Mustafa Kemal commissioned the first Turkish operatic work, Özsoy. The opera, which was staged at the People's House in Ankara, was composed by Adnan Saygun and performed by soprano Semiha Berksoy.[55]

On December 5, 1934, Turkey moved to grant full political rights to women. It was well before several other European nations. The equal rights of women in marriage had already been established in the earlier Turkish civil code.[56] The place of women in Mustafa Kemal's cultural reforms was best expressed in the civic book which was prepared under his supervision.[57] Mustafa Kemal said that:

"There is no logical explanation for the political disenfranchisement of women. Any hesitation and negative mentality on this subject is nothing more than a fading social phenomenon of the past. ...Women must have the right to vote and to be elected; because democracy dictates that, because there are interests that women must defend, and because there are social duties that women must perform."[58]

However, the change was not easy; in the 1935 elections there were only eighteen female MPs out of a total of three hundred and ninety-five representatives.

Foreign policies

Atatürk's foreign policy was aligned with his motto, "peace at home and peace in the world."[59] a perception of peace linked to his project of civilization and modernization.[60] The base and the expected outcomes of Kemal's policies depended on the power of the parliamentary sovereignty (justice, moral superiority, and social structure of the nation) that was established by the Republic.[61] The Turkish War of Independence was the last time Atatürk used his military might in dealing with other countries. Foreign issues were resolved by peaceful methods during his presidency.

Issue of Mosul

The "Issue of Mosul" was one of the first foreign affairs-related controversies of the new Republic. It was a dispute with the United Kingdom over the control of the Mosul Province. During the Mesopotamian campaign, General Marshall followed the British War Office's instruction that "every effort was to be made to score as heavily as possible on the Tigris before the whistle blew" and captured Mosul three days after the signature of the Armistice of Mudros (30 October 1918).[62] In 1920, the Misak-ı Milli, which consolidated the "Turkish lands" based on a common past, history, concept of morals and laws, declared that the Mosul Province was a part of the historic Turkish heartland. The British were in a precarious situation with the Issue of Mosul, and were adopting almost equally desperate measures to protect their interests. The Iraqi revolt against the British was put down by the RAF Iraq Command during the summer of 1920. Presumably, from a British perspective, if Mustafa Kemal Atatürk succeeded in securing stability on his side, he would have turned his attention to recovering Mosul and penetrate into Mesopotamia, where the native population would probably join him. Thus, an insurgent and hostile Muslim nation would be brought up to the very gates of India. In 1923, Mustafa Kemal tried to persuade the GNA that accepting the arbitration of the League of Nations at the Treaty of Lausanne over the Mosul did not mean giving up Mosul, but rather waiting for a time when Turkey might be stronger. The artificially drawn border had an unsettling effect on both sides of the population. Later, it was claimed that Turkey began where the oil ends as the border was drawn by the British geophysicists based on the oil reserves. Atatürk did not want this separation.[63] The British Foreign Secretary attempted to disclaim any existence of oil in the Mosul area. On 23 January 1923, Lord Curzon argued that the existence of oil was no more than hypothetical.[62] However, according to Armstrong, "England wanted oil. Mosul and Kurds were the key."[64]

While three inspectors from the League of Nations Committee were sent to the region to oversee the situation in 1924, the Sheikh Said rebellion, beginning in 1924 and escalating until 1927, broke out to establish a new government positioned to cut Turkey's link to Mesopotamia. The relationship between the rebels and Britain was questioned. British assistance was sought after the rebels realised that the rebellion, or its expected outcome, could not stand by itself.[65]

In 1925, the League of Nations formed a three-member committee to study the case while the Sheikh Said Rebellion was on the rise. Partly because of the continuing uncertainties along the northern frontier (present-day northern Iraq), the committee recommended that the region should be connected to Iraq with the condition that the UK would hold the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. By the end of March 1925, the necessary troop movements were completed, and the whole area of the Sheikh Said rebellion was encircled.[66] As a result of these maneuvers, the revolt was put down. Britain, Iraq and Kemal made a treaty on 5 June 1926, which mostly followed the decisions of the League Council. In 1926, Kemal faced growing opposition to his reform policies, a continuing precarious economic situation, and a defeat in the Mosul issue. A large section of the Kurdish population and the Iraqi Turkmen were left on the other side of the border. The Sheikh Said Rebellion hastened both the imposition of the Republican Party and the speed of Atatürk's reforms. In 1925, the population was largely illiterate and disparate. Turkey was in ruins, reconstruction was difficult, poverty was everywhere and people were in pain, which easily fed separatist violence.[67] Mustafa Kemal attributed the rebellion to certain notables rather than a section of the population, who had been found guilty by the courts (kanunen mucrim olan bazi muteneffizan) and who used the mask of Islam to conceal the interests of landlords, feudal tribal leaders and other "reactionaries" on 7 March 1925.[68]

Soviet Union

Mustafa Kemal wanted positive relations with his country's northern neighbor. He signed the Treaty of Moscow with Bolshevist Russia. The relations were cordial but had a distinct character of the common interests. The basic character of their relationship during Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's leadership of the independence war was based on the fact that they were fighting against a common enemy: Britain and the West.[69] He cooperated with the Soviets during the war of independence in order to establish the new state.

"Friendship with Russia," said Mustafa Kemal, "is not to adopt their ideology of communism for Turkey."[69] He declared: "Communism is a social issue. Social conditions, religion, and national traditions of our country confirm the opinion that Russian Communism is not applicable in Turkey."[70] On a 1 November 1924 speech he said: "Our amicable relations with our old friend the Soviet Russian Republic are developing and progressing every day. As in past our Republican Government regards genuine and extensive good relations with Soviet Russia as the Keynote of our foreign policy."[69]

These cordial relations were tested during the Issue of Mosul. Curzon insisted during the Lausanne Conference (1923) that Mosul belonged to Iraq, and it would be under the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. In 1923, Kemal refused to accept this position, and on the same day signed a non-aggression and security pact with Soviet Russia in Paris. This pact remained in effect until it was unilaterally abrogated by the Soviet Union in 1945.

The Soviet War Minister Kliment Voroshilov was invited to the tenth year celebrations by Mustafa Kemal.[71] Kemal explained his position regarding the realization of his plan for a Balkan Federation economically uniting Turkey, Greece, Rumania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. The visit was historically important, as no member of the Politburo or Steering Committee of Moscow's ruling Communist Party had ventured outside the Soviet Union since it was founded.[71].

During the second half of the 1930s, Mustafa Kemal tried to establish a closer relationship with Britain in an effort to improve relations with the West. Franklin D. Roosevelt quoted the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Soviet Union, Maxim Litvinov: "Litvinov told me that the most valuable and interesting leader in the world does not live in Europe but beyond the Straits in Ankara and that he was the President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal."[72]"

Turkish-Greek alliance

The post-war leader of Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos, was also determined to establish normal relations between the two states. The war had devastated the lands of Western Anatolia, and the financial burden of Ottoman Muslim refugees from Greece brought obstacles to the rapprochement. Venizelos moved forward with the agreement despite accusations of making too many concessions on the issues of the naval armaments, and the properties of the Ottoman Greeks from Turkey according to the Treaty of Lausanne.[73] Similarly, Kemal resisted the pressures of historic emnities or atrocity-mongering between the societies. In spite of Turkish animosity against the Greeks, Kemal showed acute sensitivity to even the slightest allusion to these tensions. Kemal at one instance ordered immediate removal of a painting showing a Turkish soldier plunging his bayonet to a Greek soldier by stating, "What a revolting scene!".[74]

Ultimately, many Greeks consider the reconciliation with Turkey among the greatest foreign policy achievements of Venizelos' final term as Prime Minister. Greece renounced all its claims over Turkish territory and the two sides concluded an agreement on 30 April 1930. On 25 October, Venizelos visited Turkey, and signed a treaty of friendship.[75] Venizelos even forwarded Atatürk's name for the 1934 Nobel Peace Prize,[76] Even after his fall from power, Greco-Turkish relations remained cordial. Indeed, Venizelos' successor Panagis Tsaldaris came to visit Atatürk in September 1933 and signed a more comprehensive agreement, called the Entente Cordiale, a stepping stone for the Balkan Pact.

Greek Premier Ioannis Metaxas said of Atatürk and the Turkish-Greek alliance, that "...Greece, which has the highest estimation of the renowned leader, heroic soldier, and enlightened creator of Turkey. We will never forget that President Atatürk was the true founder of the Turkish-Greek alliance based on a framework of common ideals and peaceful cooperation. He developed ties of friendship between the two nations which it would be unthinkable to dissolve. Greece will guard its fervent memories of this great man, who determined an unalterable future path for the noble Turkish nation."

Treaty of Saadabad

One of the main goals of Mustafa Kemal was to establish security and peace on the eastern border of the new republic. These states had high stakes in preserving their common frontiers. Consulting together in all matters of common interest benefited them more than keeping diplomatic channels closed. Relations developed slowly during this period and eventually led to the signing of the Treaty of Saadabad.

Mustafa Kemal was implementing his reforms, when he found cooperation with Afghanistan. Afghanistan was in the midst of a reformation period under Amanullah Khan. Afghan Foreign Minister Mahmud Tarzi was a follower of Mustafa Kemal's domestic policy. He encouraged Amanullah Khan in social and political reform but urged that reforms should be gradually built upon the basis of a strong government. During the late 1920s, Anglo-Afghan relations soured over British fears of an Afghan-Soviet friendship. On 20 May 1928, Anglo-Afghan politics gained a positive perspective, when Amanullah Khan and the Queen were received by Mustafa Kemal in Istanbul. This meeting was followed by a Turkey-Afghanistan Friendship and Cooperation pact on 22 May 1928. Mustafa Kemal supported Afghanistan's integration into international organizations. In 1934 Afghanistan's relations with the international community gained a huge boost when it joined the League of Nations.[77] In 1937, King Zahir Shah became a signatory of the Treaty of Saadabad. Mahmud Tarzi received Mustafa Kemal's personal support until he died on 22 November 1933 in Istanbul.

Mustafa Kemal and Reza Shah had a common approach regarding British imperialism and its influence in their region. This climate created a slow but continuous rapprochement between Turkey and Iran. Both governments sent diplomatic missions and messages of friendship to each other during the Turkish war of independence.[78] The policy of the Ankara government in this period was to give moral support in order to assure Iranian independence and territorial integrity.[79] The relations were strained after the abolishment of the Caliphate. Iran's Shia clergy did not accept Kemal's position. Iranian religious power centers perceived the real motive behind Atatürk's reforms was to undermine the power of the clergy.[79] An admirer of Mustafa Kemal and close student of his reforms, Reza Shah followed the same type of modernization efforts. By the mid-1930s, Reza Shah's efforts had caused intense dissatisfaction to the clergy throughout Iran, thus widening the gap between Islam and government.[80] Mustafa Kemal feared the occupation and dismemberment of Iran as a multi-ethnic society by Russia or Great Britain.[79] Like Mustafa Kemal, Reza Shah wanted to secure Iran's borders. Reza Shah visited him in 1934. In 1935 the draft of what would become the Saadabad Pact was paragraphed in Geneva, but the signing of it was delayed because of the border dispute between Iran and Iraq. Iran challenged the validity of both the Treaty of Erzerum and the Constantinople Protocol in 1934.

On 8 July 1937, the Saadabad Pact was signed at Tehran by Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The signatories undertook to preserve their common frontiers, to consult together in all matters of common interest and to commit no aggression against one another’s territory. The treaty united common points between the Afghan king’s call for greater Oriental-Middle Eastern Cooperation, Reza Shah's goal in securing relations with Turkey that would help Iran free herself from Soviet and British influence, and Mustafa Kemal's foreign policy based on common interest to secure stability in the region. The immediate outcome was to deter Mussolini from adventures in the region.[81]

Turkish Straits

On July 24 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne included the Lausanne Straits Agreement. The Lausanne Straits Agreement stated that the Dardanelles should remain open to all commercial vessels: seizure of foreign war vessels was subject to certain limitations during peacetime, and, even as a neutral state, Turkey could not limit any military passage during wartime. The Lausanne Straits Agreement stated that the waterway was to be demilitarized, the management of the waterway to be left to the Straits Commission. The demilitarized zone heavily restricted Turkey's domination and sovereignty over the Straits. The defence of Istanbul was impossible without having the sovereignty over the water that passed through it.

In March 1936, Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland gave Mustafa Kemal the opportunity to resume full control over the Straits. "The situation in Europe", he declared "is highly appropriate for such a move. We shall certainly achieve it".[82] Tevfik Rüştü Aras, who was the foreign minister, initiated a move to revise the Straits' regime. Aras claimed that he was directed by the President, rather than his Prime Minister, Ismet Inönü. Inōnü was worried about harming the relations with Britain, France, and Balkan neighbors over the Straits. However, the signatories agreed to join the conference, since unlimited military passage had become unfavorable to Turkey with the changes in world politics. Mustafa Kemal demanded that the members of the Turkish Foreign Office devise a solution that would transfer full control over the waterway to Turkey.

On July 20 1936, the Montreux Convention was signed, with the participation of Bulgaria, Great Britain, Australia, France, Japan, Romania, the Soviet Union, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Greece. It became the primary instrument, a legal cornerstone, that governed the passage of commercial and war vessels through the Dardanelles Strait. It was ratified by the GNAT on 31 July 1936. It went into effect on 9 November 1936, and is still valid today.

Balkan Pact

Until the early 1930s, Turkey followed a modern neutral foreign policy with the West by developing joint friendship and neutrality agreements. These bilateral agreements were aligned with Mustafa Kemal's worldview. By the end of 1925, Turkey had signed fifteen joint agreements with Western states.

In the early 1930s, changes and developments in world politics required Turkey to make multilateral agreements to improve its security. Mustafa Kemal strongly believed that a close cooperation between the Balkan states based on the principle of equality would have an important effect on European politics. These states had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire for centuries, and had formed a powerful force. While the origins of the Balkan agreement may date back as far as 1925, the Balkan Pact came to being in the mid-1930s. Several important developments in the Balkan Peninsula and in Europe helped the original idea to materialize. In inter-Balkan relations, improvements in the Turkish-Greek alliance and the rapprochement between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia are worth mentioning.

The Balkan Pact was negotiated by Mustafa Kemal with Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia. This mutual-defence agreement intended to guarantee the signatories' territorial integrity and political independence against attack by another Balkan state such as Bulgaria or Albania. It countered the increasingly aggressive foreign policy of fascist Italy and the effect of a potential Bulgarian alignment with Nazi Germany. He thought of the Balkan Pact as a medium of balance in the relations with the European countries.[83] Mustafa Kemal was particularly anxious to establish a region of security and alliances in the west of Turkey and in Balkan Europe, which would extend as far as Dobruja.[84]

The Balkan Pact provided for regular military and diplomatic consultations. It was regarded as a significant step forward in consolidating the free world's position in southeast Europe, although it contained no specific military commitments. The importance of the agreement was best displayed in the message which Atatürk sent to the Greek Premier, Ioannis Metaxas:

"The borders of the allies in the Balkan Pact are a single border. Those who covet this border will encounter the burning beams of the sun. I recommend avoiding this. The forces that defend our borders are a single and inseparable force."[85]

It was signed by GNA on Feb 28. The Greek and Yugoslav Parliaments ratified the agreement a few days after. The unanimously ratified Balkan pact became a reality on 18 May 1935 and lasted until 1940.

The Balkan Pact turned out to be an ineffective organization for reasons that were beyond Atatürk’s control. What he wanted to prevent with the Balkan Pact was realized by Bulgaria’s attempt to put the Dobruja issue into the agenda after a series of international events ended with the Italian invasion of Albania on 7 April 1939. These conflicts spread rapidly, ending with World War II. The goal of Atatürk, to protect southeast Europe, failed with the dissolution of the pact. The only state which arose intact after the war was Atatürk's Republic of Turkey.

Issue of Hatay

Turkish Prime-Minister Ismet Inonu was very conscious of foreign policy issues. During the second half of the 1930s, Atatürk tried to form a closer relationship with Britain. The given risks of this policy change put the two men at odds. The Hatay issue and the Lyon agreement were two important developments in foreign policy that played a significant role in the severing of relations between Atatürk and Ismet.

In 1936 Atatürk raised the "Issue of Hatay" at the League of Nations. Hatay was based on the old administrative unit of the Ottoman Empire called the Sanjak of Alexandretta. On behalf of the League of Nations, the representatives of France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey prepared a constitution for Hatay, which established it as an autonomous sanjak within Syria. Despite some inter-ethnic violence, in the midst of 1938 an election was conducted by the local legislative assembly. The cities of Antakya (Antioch) and İskenderun (Alexandretta) joined Turkey in 1939.

Economic policies

Mustafa Kemal instigated economic policies not just to develop small and large scale businesses, but also to create social strata (industrial bourgeoisie along with the peasantry of Anatolia) that were virtually non-existent during the Ottoman Empire. The primary problem faced by the politics of his period was the lag in the development of political institutions and social classes which would steer such social and economic changes.[86] Mustafa Kemal's vision regarding early Turkish economic policy was apparent during the İzmir Economic Congress of 1923 which was established before the signing of the Lausanne Treaty. The initial choices of Mustafa Kemal's economic policies were a reflection of the realities of his period. After World War I, due to the lack of any real potential investors to open private sector factories and develop industrial production, Kemal's activities regarding the economy included the establishment of many state-owned factories for agriculture, machinery, and textile industries.

State intervention, 1923–1929

Mustafa Kemal and İsmet İnönü had a national vision in their pursuit of the state controlled economical polices. Kemal and İsmet wanted to knit the country together, eliminate the foreign control of the economy, and improve communications. Istanbul, a trading port with international foreign enterprises, was deliberately abandoned and resources were channeled to other, relatively less developed cities, in order to establish a more balanced development throughout the country.[87]

For Mustafa Kemal, as for his supporters, tobacco remained wedded to his policy in the pursuit of economic independence. Turkish tobacco was an important industrial crop, while its cultivation and manufacture were French monopolies under capitulations of the Ottoman Empire. The tobacco and cigarette trade was controlled by two French companies: the "Regie Compagnie interessee des tabacs de l'empire Ottoman" and "Narquileh tobacco."[88] The Ottoman Empire gave the tobacco monopoly to the Ottoman Bank as a limited company under the "Council of the Public Debt". Regie, as part of the Council of the Public Debt, had control over production, storing, and distribution (including export) with an unchallenged price control. Consequently, Turkish farmers were dependent on the company for their livelihood.[89] In 1925, this company was taken over by the state and named "Tekel". The control of tobacco was the biggest achievement of the Kemalist political machinery's "nationalization" of the economy for a country that did not produce oil. They accompanied this achievement with the development of the cotton industry, which peaked during the early 1930s. Cotton was the second biggest industrial crop in Turkey.

In 1924, with the initiative of Mustafa Kemal, the first Turkish bank İş Bankası was established. He was the first member of İş Bankası. The bank was a response to the growing need for a truly national establishment and the birth of a banking system which was capable of backing up economic activities, managing funds accumulated as a result of policies providing savings incentives and, where necessary, extending resources which could trigger industrial impetus.

In 1927, Turkish State Railways was established. Because Mustafa Kemal considered the development of a national rail network as another important step in industrialization, it was given high priority. This institution developed an extensive railway network in a very short time. In 1927, Kemal also ordered the integration of road construction goals into development plans. The road network consisted of 13,885 km of ruined surface roads, 4.450 km of stabilized roads, and 94 bridges. In 1935, a new entity was established under the government called "Sose ve Kopruler Reisligi" which would be the driving force of new roads after the World War II. However, in 1937 the 22,000 km of roads in Turkey were mainly a system to aid the railways.

The national group, which had Kemal as the leader, developed many projects within the first decade of the republic. However, the Turkish economy was based on agriculture, with primitive tools and methods; roads and transportation facilities were far from sufficient; and the management of the economy was inefficient. The Great Depression brought many changes to this picture.

Great Depression, 1929–1931

The young republic, like the rest of the world, found itself in a deep economic crisis during the Great Depression. Mustafa Kemal reacted to conditions of this period by moving toward integrated economic polices, and establishing a central bank to control exchange rates. However, Turkey could not finance essential imports; its currency was shunned and zealous revenue officials seized the meager possessions of peasants who could not pay their taxes.[87]

In 1929, Mustafa Kemal signed a treaty that resulted in the restructuring of the nation's debt with the Ottoman Public Debt Administration. He did not fault the Ottoman debt. He had to deal with the turbulent economic issues of the Great Depression along with the payment of the high debt known as the Ottoman public debt. Until the early 1930s, Turkish private business could not acquire exchange credits. It was impossible to integrate the Turkish economy without a solution to this problem. This increased the credibility of the new Republic.

In 1931, Mustafa Kemals's intention to establish the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey was realized. The main intention behind the bank was to have control over the exchange rate. The Ottoman Bank's role during its initial years as a central bank was slowly ceased. Later specialized banks such as the Sümerbank (1932) and the Etibank (1935) were founded.

From the political economy perspective, Mustafa Kemal had to face the same problems which all countries faced: political upheaval. The establishment of a new party with a different economic perspective was needed. He asked Ali Fethi Okyar to fulfill this need. The Liberal Republican Party (August, 1930) came out with a liberal program and proposed that state monopolies should be ended, foreign capital should be attracted, and that state investment should be curtailed. Mustafa Kemal supported İnönü's point of view: "it is impossible to attract foreign capital for essential development." In 1931, he proclaimed: "In the economic area ...the programme of the party is statism."[90] However, the effect of free republicans was felt strongly and state intervention became more moderate, more akin to a form of state capitalism. One of his radical left-wing supporters, Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu from the Kadro (The Cadre) movement, claimed that Mustafa Kemal found a third way between capitalism and socialism.[91]

Liberalization and planned growth, 1931–1939

The first (1929-1933) and second five year economic plans were performed under the supervision of Mustafa Kemal. The first five year economic plan promoted consumer substitution industries. However, these economic plans changed drastically with the death of Kemal and the rise of World War II. Subsequent governments took measures that harmed the economic productivity of Turkey in various ways.[92] The achievements of the 1930s were credited to early (1920s) implementation of the economic system based on the national policies of Mustafa Kemal and his team.[93]

In 1931, Mustafa Kemal watched the first national aircraft MMV-1. He realized the important role of aviation. In his words, "the future lies in the skies".[94] The Turkish Aeronautical Association was founded in February 16, 1925 by his directive.[95] He ordered the establishment of the Turkish Aircraft Association Lottery. Instead of the traditional raffle prizes, this new lottery paid money prizes. The major part of its income was transferred to establish a new factory. The income from this lottery was used in funding aviation projects. Mustafa Kemal did not see the flight of the first Turkish military aircraft built at the factory. Operational American Curtiss Hawk fighters were being produced soon after his death and before the onset of World War II.

In 1932, liberal economist Celal Bayar became the Minister of Economy at Mustafa Kemal's request and served until 1937.[96] During this period, the country moved toward mixed economy with first private initiatives. Textile, sugar, paper and steel factories (financed by a loan from England) were the private sectors of the period. Besides these government owned power plants, banks, and insurance companies were established.

In 1935, the first Turkish cotton print factory "Nazilli Calico print factory" opened. Cotton planting was promoted to furnish raw material for future factory settlements, part of the industrialization process.[97] One of the centers for factory settlements was Nazilli. Nazilli become a major center beginning with the establishment of cotton mills and was followed by a calico print factory by 1935.[98][99]

On 25 October 1937, Mustafa Kemal appointed Celal Bayar as the prime minister of the 9th government. Integrated economic policies reached their peak with the signing of the 1939 Treaty with Britain and France.[92] This signaled a turning point in Turkish history.[92] It was the first step towards an alliance with the "West".[92] Celal Bayar served as prime minister until Mustafa Kemal's death. The differences of opinion between Inönü (state control) and Celal Bayar (liberal) came to the forefront after İnönü became president in 1938. On 25 January 1939, Prime Minister Bayar resigned.

Mustafa Kemal supported the establishment of the automobile industry. He wanted it to become a center in the region. The motto of the Turkish automobile association was: "The Turkish driver is a man of the most exquisite sensitivities."[100]

During 1935, Turkey was becoming an industrial society on the Western European model set out by Atatürk.[101] At the time of his death, most regions of Turkey had viable micro-economic stability and some macro economic stability. These signs of sound economic policies were marked by the first-ever emergence of local banks. However, the gap between Mustafa Kemal’s goals and the achievements of the socio-political structure of the country was not closed.[101]

Personal life

On 29 January 1923, Mustafa Kemal married Latife Uşaklıgil; they were divorced on August 5, 1925.[102] He never remarried. During his lifetime, Atatürk adopted seven daughters and a son.

In his leisure time, he enjoyed reading and writing (books and a personal journal), horseback riding, chess, and swimming. He was also an avid dancer and enjoyed both the waltz and traditional Zeybek folk dances.

Illness and death

During 1937, indications that Atatürk's health was worsening started to appear. In early 1938, while he was on a trip to Yalova, he suffered from a serious illness. He went to İstanbul for treatment, where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver due to heavy alcohol consumption.[103][104] During his stay in İstanbul, he made an effort to keep up with his regular lifestyle for a while. He died on 10 November 1938, at the age of 57, in the Dolmabahçe Palace, where he spent his last days.[105] The clock in the bedroom where he died is still set to the time of his death, 9:05 in the morning. Atatürk's funeral called forth both sorrow and pride in Turkey, and seventeen countries sent special representatives, while nine contributed with armed detachments to the cortège. [59] Mustafa Kemal's remains were originally laid to rest in the Ethnography Museum of Ankara, and transferred on 10 November 1953, 15 years after his death in a 42-ton sarcophagus, to a mausoleum that overlooks Ankara,[106] Anıtkabir. In his will, he donated all of his possessions to the Republican People's Party, providing that the yearly interest of his funds would be used to look after his sister Makbule and his adopted children, and fund the higher education of the children of İsmet İnönü. The remainder of this yearly interest was willed to the Turkish Language Association and the Turkish Historical Society.



Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is commemorated by many memorials throughout Turkey, such as the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul, the Atatürk Bridge over the Golden Horn (Haliç), the Atatürk Dam, and Atatürk Olympic Stadium. Atatürk statues have been erected in many Turkish cities, and practically all towns have their own memorial to him. His face and name are seen and heard everywhere in Turkey; his portrait can be seen in all public buildings, in schools, in school books, on all Turkish lira banknotes, and in the homes of many Turkish families.[107]

At the exact time of his death, on every 10 November, at 09:05 a.m., almost all vehicles and people in the country's streets pause for one minute in remembrance of him.[108] In 1951, the Turkish Parliament issued a law (5816) outlawing insults to his reminiscence (Turkish: Hatırası) or destruction of objects representing him.[109] The demarcation between a criticism and an insult was defined as a political argument and the minister of Justice (a political position) was assigned in Article 5 to execute the law rather than the public prosecutor.


In 1981, the centennial of Atatürk's birth, the memory of Atatürk was honored by the United Nations and UNESCO, which declared it The Atatürk Year in the World and adopted the Resolution on the Atatürk Centennial. The Atatürk Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand (which also serves as a memorial to the ANZAC troops who died at Gallipoli); the Atatürk Memorial in the place of honour on ANZAC drive in Canberra, Australia; the Atatürk Forest in Israel; and the Atatürk Square in Rome, Italy, are only a few examples. He has roads named after him in several countries, like the Kemal Atatürk Marg in New Delhi, India, Kemal Atatürk Avenue in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Atatürk Avenue in the heart of Islamaba in Pakistan, the Atatürk Road in the southern city of province of Sind of Pakistan called Larkana where Atatürk visited back in 1923, and Mustafá Kemal Atatürk street in the Naco district of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The entrance to Princess Royal Harbour in Albany, Western Australia is named Atatürk Channel. Barack Obama, the 44thPresident of the United States, who visited his tomb and praised him, also expressed his view regarding Atatürk's legacy at his speech towards "the Muslim world" by stating Atatürk's "greatest legacy is Turkey's strong and secular democracy, and that is the work that this assembly carries on today."[110][111]


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