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Ali Adnan Ertekin Menderes (1899 - 17 September 1961) was the first democratically elected political leader in Turkish history. He served as prime minister between 1950ÔÇô1960. He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party (DP) in 1946, the fourth legal opposition party of Turkey. He was hanged by the military junta after the 1960 coup d'├ętat, along with two other cabinet members, Fatin R├╝┼čt├╝ Zorlu and Hasan Polatkan. He was the last Turkish political leader to be executed after a military coup and is also one of the three political leaders of the Turkish Republic (along with Atat├╝rk and Turgut ├ľzal) to have a mausoleum built in his honour.

Early life and career

He was born in 1899 in Ayd─▒nmarker, as the son of a wealthy landowner, whose roots are from Crimean Tatars. After primary school, Menderes attended the American College in ─░zmirmarker. He fought against the invading Greekmarker army during the Turkish War of Independence and won a medal of honour. He graduated from the Law School of Ankara University. In 1930, Menderes organized a branch of the short lived Liberal Republican Party (Serbest Cumhuriyet F─▒rkas─▒) in Ayd─▒n. After this opposition party was banned as well, he was invited by Atat├╝rk himself to join the ruling Republican People's Party and was elected deputy of Ayd─▒n in 1931. In 1945, he was expelled from the party with two other colleagues due to inner-party opposition to the nationalization policies of the then self-declared "National Chief" ─░smet ─░n├Ân├╝.

Rise to power

On 7 January 1946, he formed the Democratic Party (DP), the fourth legal opposition party in Turkey, after the Progressive Republican Party formed by Ret. Gen. Kaz─▒m Karabekir in 1924, the Liberal Republican Party established by Ali Fethi Okyar in 1930, and the National Development Party (Milli Kalk─▒nma Partisi) established by Nuri Demira─č in 1945, all three of which were banned in at most a few months after their founding by the Republican People's Party (CHP), which was the party in power until the first democratic elections in Turkey in 1950. He was elected deputy of K├╝tahyamarker in the fairly undemocratic 1946 elections, in which the votes were cast out in the open and were counted in secret by the state apparatus working for the governing CHP. He became the highest-ranking man in the party after Celal Bayar. When the DP won 52% of the votes in the first free elections in Turkish history on 14 May 1950 (in which votes were cast in secret and counted openly), Menderes became prime minister, and in 1955 he also assumed the duties of foreign minister. He later won two more free elections, one in 1954 and the other in 1957. No other politician has ever been able to win three general elections in a row in Turkey.

During the 10 years of his term as prime minister, Turkish domestic and foreign politics underwent great changes. Industrialization and urbanization, which were started by Atat├╝rk, but staggered by nationalization policies of ─░smet ─░n├Ân├╝ and the effects of war, underwent rapid acceleration in Turkey. Turkish economy grew at an unprecedented rate of 9% per annum over his 10 year reign, a feat which had and so far has not yet been duplicated. Turkey was admitted to NATOmarker as a full fledged member. With the economic support of the United States via the Marshall Plan, agriculture was mechanized; transport, energy, education, health care, insurance and banking progressed. In 1955, Menderes government was blamed by his political opponents for orchesting the Istanbul Pogrom, which targeted the city's substantial Greek minority.

Plane crash survival

On 17 February 1959, the Turkish Airlines aircraft Vickers Viscount Type 793, registration TC-SEV, carrying Adnan Menderes and a party of government officials on a special flightmarker from Istanbul to London Gatwick Airportmarker crashed a few miles short of the runway, near Ruspermarker, Sussex in heavy fog and caught fire. Nine of the 16 passengers and 5 of the 8 crew lost their lives. Menderes, sitting in the back part of the plane, survived the accident almost uninjured and was hospitalized at The London Clinicmarker 90 minutes after receiving first aid from Margaret Bailey, a local resident who rushed to the crash site.

He was on his way to sign the London Agreement on the Cyprusmarker issue with the British Premier Harold Macmillan and Greek Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, which gave the three sides the right to intervene in Cyprus in case peace is broken by any of the parties.

Menderes signed the London Agreement on 19 February 1959 in the hospital. He returned home on 26 February 1959 and was welcomed by even his arch-rival ─░smet ─░n├Ân├╝ and a huge crowd.

Political style and beliefs

Menderes became quite famous for selling or distributing most of the estate he had inherited to small shareholders. He was more tolerant towards traditional lifestyles and different forms of practice of Islam than Atat├╝rk and his party had been - he campaigned in the 1950 elections almost exclusively on the platform of legalizing the Arabic language Islamic call to prayer (adhan), which had been banned. He re-opened thousands of mosques across the country which had been left to rot like the banned churches in Soviet Unionmarker, and as such he was blamed by his political opponents for using religion as a tool for political gain. One of his first political moves was to exclude the pictures of ─░smet ─░n├Ân├╝ on Turkish banknotes and stamps and instead put Atat├╝rk pictures back, which were taken off when In├Ân├╝ became President in 1938. Thanks to the public support and the legacy of Atat├╝rk, it was a successful move, even if the Turkish law under the former President was stating that the image of the President of the country would be placed on the banknotes, in this case Celal Bayar.

While remaining pro-Western, he was more active than his predecessors in building relations with Muslim states. Menderes had a more liberal economic policy than earlier prime ministers, and allowed more private enterprise. In general his economic policies made him popular among the poor half of the population, but it also brought the country to insolvency due to an enormous increase in imports of goods and technology.

He was most intolerant towards criticism, so he instituted press censorship and had journalists arrested, as well as attempting to oppress the opposing political parties and take institutions such as universities under his control. Menderes who was well liked by the people in general and also had the support of the Army Chief of Staff General Cemal G├╝rsel who, in a personal patriotic memorandum, had advocated that Menderes should become the president of the republic to secure the national unity, became increasingly unpopular among the intellectuals, university students and a group of radical young officers in the military, who feared that the ideals of Atat├╝rk were in danger. This eventually brought about his fall from power.

Coup, trial, execution

On 27 May 1960, a military coup organized by 37 "young officers" deposed the government, and Menderes was arrested along with all the leading party members. They were charged with violating the constitution. He and all the leaders of the DP were put on trial by a hastily formed quasi-military kangaroo court on the island of Yass─▒ada. In addition to the charges of violating the constitution, the trial also referenced to the Istanbul Pogrom, for which he and his fellow defendants were blamed.

Menderes was sentenced to death for violating the Constitution, ironically by the same officers who themselves had violated the Constitution by conspiring against a democratically elected government. Despite pleas for forgiveness by Head of State Cemal G├╝rsel, and similar pleas from several world leaders, including American President John F. Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, Menderes was executed by the junta at the gallows on the island of ─░mral─▒marker on 17 September 1961. Two months later, Menderes' nemesis ─░smet ─░n├Ân├╝ formed a new government under military tutelage, in coalition and with the help of the newly emerging Justice Party, after these two parties among themselves took the majority of the votes in 1961 elections. Adalet Partisi, which was seen as the successor of the heritage of Menderes, would win victories in later elections especially under the leadership of S├╝leyman Demirel.

Legacy

On 17 September 1990, the 29th anniversary of Menderes' execution, he was posthumously pardoned and his grave was moved to a mausoleum named after him in Istanbul. Fatin R├╝┼čt├╝ Zorlu and Hasan Polatkan, who were the Foreign Affairs Minister and Finance Minister, respectively in the last Menderes administration, and who were hanged with Menderes by the junta in 1961, were also posthumously cleared of any misconduct. Adnan Menderes University in Ayd─▒nmarker and Adnan Menderes Airportmarker in ─░zmirmarker are named after him. Two high schools, Istanbul Bahcelievler Adnan Menderes Anadolu Lisesi and Ayd─▒n Adnan Menderes Anadolu Lisesi, also adopted his name. There are numerous city districts, boulevards and streets named after him by democratically elected city councils in cities large and small, all across Turkey.

In 2006, Mehmet Feyyat, Attorney General of Istanbul at the time, suggested that "─░smet ─░n├Ân├╝ and Cemal G├╝rsel placed phone calls to the prison's administration for Menderes' execution to be halted but the Communications Office of the junta cut the lines off" (see below).

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