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Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was born on 26 February 1954 and is the 25th and current (as of 2013) Prime Minister of Turkey who has been in office since 2003.  He is also the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) which holds a majority of seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and from 1994 to 1998 he was Mayor of Istanbul.  Erdogan finished Imam Hatip school before studying at Marmara University's Faculty of Economics and Commercial Sciences where he graduated in 1981; he was also a semi-professional footballer from 1969 to 1982.

Erdogan was elected Mayor of Istanbul in the 1994 local elections and in 1997 was banned from office and sentenced to a 10 month prison term for reciting a poem during a public address in the province of Siirt. The poem was allegedly quoted from a book published by a state enterprise and one that had been recommended to teachers by the Ministry of Education.
 Less than four months into his prison sentence he established the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).  From its first year it became the largest publicly supported political movement in Turkey and in the 2002 general election took nearly 2/3rds of the parliamentary seats forming the first single-party government.

As Prime Minister, Erdogan has implemented numerous reforms and it has been during his tenure negotiations for the country’s accession into the EU were started 45 years after the country signed an Association Agreement with the EU.  Also after decades of inflation that had adversely affected the country's economy, Erdogan brought it under control by revaluing the Turkish Lira.  Interest rates were lowered and per capita income grew significantly.  The AK party won the elections of 2007 making it the first time in 52 years that a party in power had increased its votes for a second term and in the 2011 general election the AK Party was re-elected for a third term with Erdogan remaining as Prime Minister.

After Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Erdogan has largely been deemed the most influential Turkish leader of the Republican era.  Under his premiership the country has continued to grow economically and consolidated its position as a regional power with global ambitions. His foreign policy vision is claimed to rest on Neo-Ottomanism, a policy according to which Turkey should maintain and increase its presence in the lands formerly ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

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