Ecevit, Bülent

Ecevit, Bülent bülĕntˈ ĕjĕvĭtˈ [key], 1925–2006, Turkish political leader and journalist. An editor for Ulus, the organ of the Republican People's party, he was elected to parliament (1957–60 and again from 1961) and served (1961–65) as minister of labor. He was the Republican People's party's secretary-general from 1966 to 1971. In 1972, Ecevit succeeded Ismet Inönü as party chairman, promising a democratic-socialist program. In 1974 he became prime minister of a coalition government and established an independent, basically anti-European policy for Turkey. Following the overthrow in July, 1974, of the Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios III by the Greek officers of the Cypriot National Guard, Ecevit mobilized Turkish troops and invaded Cyprus to protect its Turkish minority. His action brought about the fall of the Greek Cypriot rebel government, and, indirectly, the fall of the junta in Greece. Strains in his coalition led to Ecevit's resignation in Sept., 1974. In 1978 he became prime minister again, but in 1980 Turkey experienced a military coup, and Ecevit was imprisoned. He later established the Democratic Left party, and in Dec., 1998, he was asked to form a caretaker government. Following elections held in Apr., 1999, he continued as prime minister, heading a coalition government. In office he reversed his earlier anti-Western stance and worked to draw Turkey nearer to the countries of the European Union. The elections of 2002 resulting in stunning loss for Ecevit and his party, and he retired from politics two years later.

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