1980 Military coup
In 1980, Demirel was overthrown by the military and
General Kenan Evren took over the presidential post. A new
agreement was drafted on US military bases in the country
and Turkey began to receive $ 1 million annually in rent for
these. The trade unions and the activities of political
parties were banned, and the Turkish government were from
abroad accused of violations of human rights.
In 1983, a new constitution was adopted, and a political
opening was launched, aimed primarily at reassuring Western
European critics. The new government set itself the goal of
becoming a member of the Community, giving new impetus to
modernization, distancing itself from more nationalist
policies and accepting economic liberalism.
The continuing rivalry between the traditional parties
led by the Conservative Demirel and the Social Democrat
Ecevit in 1987 paved the way for the Motherland Party's
election victory. The new Prime Minister Turgut Özal threw
the country into extensive privatization, economic
liberalization and promotion of exports. According to
the program was designed by the IMF and the World Bank,
which assured that with this policy the country would become
rich and be admitted into the Community.- a popular
destination in a country where all families have at least
one member working in Western Europe. But political freedoms
did not follow suit, and the Common Market therefore
postponed the processing of the Turkish application, arguing
that it was due to high inflation and unemployment, the lack
of social policy and the conflict with Greece. These
conditions prevented a rapid uptake.
Özal was accused of nepotism, corruption and lack of
feeling with the social consequences of his economic policy.
He therefore suffered a staggering defeat in the municipal
elections in March 1989. Still, he was maneuvered so that in
October of that year, Parliament appointed him president. He
thus became the first civilian in several decades to occupy
this post. Since 1984, the Kurdish separatist movement PKK
had waged armed struggle in Kurdistan, and from 1990 this
battle hit the Turkish state ever harder.
When the blockade against Iraq began in August 1990 -
following the invasion of Kuwait - Turkey interrupted the
Iraqi flow of oil through its territory. Although Turkey did
not contribute soldiers to the US-led alliance against Iraq,
the country allowed its aircraft bases and the North
American bases to be used as a starting point for the
massive bombing of Iraq. The opposition seriously questioned
this policy as it worsened the relationship with a
neighboring country in a zone tense because of Kurdish
separatism. (See Gulf War)
Ankara also feared that a possible independent Iraqi
Kurdistan could "infect" the Kurds in Turkey. The Kurdish
people extend over the countries of Turkey, Syria, Iran and
Iraq. It is the world's largest ethnic minority without its
own country. Alone in Turkey lives approx. 15 million Kurds
who are not entitled to their own language or cultural
In October 1991, with the support of aircraft and
helicopters, the Turkish army penetrated northern Iraq to
attack PKK bases. Kurdish sources condemned the bombings of
the civilian population.
At the October 20 parliamentary elections, Suleiman
Demirels defeated the True Way Party (DYP) by 27% of the
vote and 178 of Parliament's 450 seats. The slim majority
forced Demirel to form an alliance with the People's Social
Democratic Party (SHP) led by Erdal Inönü. It had received
21% of the vote. The Motherland Party (ANAP) had received
24% of the vote, declaring it was in opposition.
Demirel was faced with a $ 6 billion government budget
deficit, a $ 44 billion foreign debt and an annual inflation
rate of 70%. Apart from the fundamentalist movements, all
political parties agreed that the country's main political
objective was the accession to the EU.
On November 14, a Philippine cargo ship with thousands of
sheep collided with a Lebanese ship between the Black Sea
and the Maritime Sea, near Istanbul. The cargo ship Madonna
Lilli sank on 29 meters of water and carried all her cargo.
The flooding of the sheep on the bottom of the sea, the
extensive development of methane gas and the use of oxygen
in the water were characterized by experts as an ecological
timed bomb. The episode also focused on the pollution of
Turkey's most populous city. The canals that traverse the
city are heavily polluted as a result of the discharge of
untreated wastewater that has killed all life to a depth of
20 meters below sea level.
The women's organization Purple roof women's shelter
foundation had been formed in 1980. In 1991, it
presented studies of men's violence against women. The
results showed that 45% of Turkish men agree that it is
proper to punish women when they do not obey their men. The
study also showed that 1 in every 4 single women and 1 in
every 3 marriages are exposed to violence.
During Prime Minister Demirel's trip to the Kurdish
provinces in December, he was forced to recognize the
identity of the Kurdish people. In all villages, the
government delegation was welcomed by residents demanding
respect for human rights, stopping aggression and ending the
torture of political prisoners.
In mid-1992, the banned PKK declared that it had formed a
war government and a National Assembly in the area it
considers Kurdistan, which includes parts of Turkey and
Iraq. A few days later and coinciding with the Kurdish New
Year (Newroz), a popular revolt erupted in the southeastern
provinces, resulting in violent clashes - especially in the
city of Cizre - between partisans and Turkish security
forces. Following Turkish Interior Minister Ismet Sezgin's
visit to Damascus in April, Turkey and Syria announced an
agreement to fight Kurdish "terrorist organizations". The
Syrian government agreed to close the PKK training camps in
the country and tighten control at the common border.