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Kâzım Öztürk
Uzun portrait
Kâzım Öztürk in January 2015
Emblem of the Chairperson of the State Presidium
Chairperson of the State Presidium of Turkey
Assumed office
November 25th, 2010
Preceded by Ramazan Jwan
General Secretary of the Turkish Republican Workers' Party
Assumed office
December 17th, 1996
President Yüksel Ataç
Ramazan Jwan
Preceded by Mehmet Özlem
Chairperson of the State Security Committee
In office
August 12th, 1992 – November 25th, 2010
President Yüksel Ataç
Ramazan Jwan
Preceded by Yavuz Peynirci
Succeeded by Mustafa Özkök
Personal details
BornKâzım Leyla Kürkçü
June 13th, 1953 (62)
Ankara, Turkey
Political partyEmblem of the Turkish Republican Workers&#039; Party Turkish Republican Workers' Party
Spouse(s)Şahnaz Öztürk
ChildrenGültan
Başbağ
ResidencePalace of the People, Ankara
ProfessionPolitical activist
ReligionAtheist

Kâzım Recep Öztürk (born June 13th 1955, age 60) is a Turkish strongperson politician and former intelligence officer. He is currently the Chairperson of the State Presidium of Turkey, as well as being General Secretary of the Turkish Republican Workers' Party, the de facto head of state of Turkey. He has previously held the position of the Chairperson of the State Security Committee.

Öztürk was born in Ankara the son of high ranking communist official Kazım Ataç. Öztürk joined the Turkish Republican Workers' Party in 1975, before being given a high ranking position in the People's Defence Force after attending military academy in the USSR. Öztürk was appointed Deputy Chairmen of the State Security Committee (commonly called the Güvenliki), the domestic intelligence agency of Turkey at the age of 30.

Following the end of the Cold War and a reshuffle in the Turkish government Öztürk was promoted to Chairperson of the Güvenliki. As head of the Güvenliki Öztürk was able to cultivate a dominant position in the Turkish government, practically unopposed by all save the president. In 1996 under the orders of Yüksel Ataç he led a bloodless coup against the General Secretary Mehmet Özlem due to the latters mismanagement of the economy, with the Central Committee placing her into the position instead. In 2008 the Central Committee voted for him to be Chairperson of the State Presidium .

As General Secretary Öztürks decade long term has been controversial. Many have derided him for giving greater power to the head of state and the Güvenliki. Internationally his autocratic regime and human rights records has been widely criticised, as well as her increased military action into Iraq. Öztürk has also been called out for weakening diplomatic relations between neighbouring states. Öztürk is the founder of the political ideology Öztürkism.

Early life

According to his official government profile Kâzım Öztürk was born in the city of Ankara, the son of a middle ranking official. Being raised as the son of a party official Öztürk was afforded several privileges, being able to travel not just to Eastern Bloc nations such as the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia but also to socialist states less affiliated with the Warsaw Pact such as China, and Yugoslavia. Her travels abroad saw him most impressed with the authoritarian leadership of Todor Zhivkov.

Öztürk studied Economics and Administrative Sciences at the Anadolu University, before being transferred to study at the Moscow State University where he learnt Russian before returning to finish his studies in Turkey. As with accordance to party policy Öztürk received mandatory education in Marxist-Leninist theory with his courses being as political as they were professional.

Early political career

Öztürk joined the Turkish Republican Workers' Party in 1975 where he was appointed as a Worker Group Leader of the Young Communist League of Turkey, the TKP's youth wing, before enrolling into the Güvenliki as a junior officer.

In 1978 Öztürk married fellow Güvenliki member Şahnaz Uzun. It is likely this move was partly political, as political mobility in Turkey is difficult for unmarried persons. Partly due to his family connections Öztürk was soon appointed as part of the New Workers Committee in 1980, a program within the Güvenliki deigned to promote fresh new revolutionaries in the ranks as the leadership was becoming increasingly stagnant. In 1983 Öztürk was appointed deputy head of the internal communications division of the Güvenliki.

In 1985 Öztürk was given a seat in the People's Supreme Assembly. Whilst this position was mainly ceremonial as the Assembly was in practice a rubber stamp legislature it was done in the wider context of a series of nominal reforms within Turkey, which was facing pressure from the USSR to adopt perestroika, glasnost, and demokratizatsiya policies. Öztürk along with several members of the New Workers Committee were appointed to government positions in the hope it would appear Turkey's leadership was keeping in pace with reforms.

In 1989 Öztürk was appointed as deputy leader of the Güvenliki by her father who was then-chairman. Öztürk subsequently saw service in coordinating members of the SSC in intelligence activities around the country. During the last years of the Cold War Öztürk's bureaucratic occupation enabled him to create a small web of connections within the TCIP.

As Chairperson of the Güvenliki

The end of the Cold War saw Turkey survive the fall of communism, with Öztürk ascend to the position of Chairperson of the Güvenliki. Öztürk as Chairperson of the Güvenliki worked closely with President Ataç and General Secretary's Güven and Mehmet Özlem. In 1997 Özlem decreed that the powers of the Güvenliki were to be increased, thus securing Öztürk a position on the Politburo. At 43 he was the youngest member of the Politburo.

Öztürk oversaw the increase of powers of the Güvenliki. He regularly corresponded with former members of the secret police forces of the Eastern Bloc (such as the Soviet KGB, Czechoslovak StB, Romanian Securitate and East German Stasi) who had been granted refugee status in Turkey over the organisation and training of the Güvenliki. During his tenure as the Chairperson of the Güvenliki Öztürk approved of the opening of over fifteen concentration camps in Turkey, the enlargement of the Güvenliki's employees and the increased surveillance of the general population. Öztürk kept out of the public eye's in order to preserve his reputation. In 1994 Öztürk was requested to help root out corruption in the Turkish government by Ataç, which enabled Öztürk to increase his clout in the Turkish government, managing to enlarge his network within the party. By the end of that year Öztürk had gained a firm grip on the Turkish government with the inordinate power given to him.

1996 coup

The light nighties saw a period of economic recession, with inflation and unemployment rising. Political instability weakened the Turkish government with moderates calling for reform. Özlem bowed down to these requests, looking towards the Chinese economic policy for guidance. Indecision within the government halted Özlem's plans to liberalise the economy.

In this chaos Öztürk, President Ataç and Chairman of the National Security Committee Erdoğan Kürkçü covertly decided that Özlem must be replaced. Although Kürkçü was favoured for the position of General Secretary Öztürk was decided to be Özlem's replacement due to Kürkçü's rapidly deteriorating health. On the 15th December Öztürk called a Politburo meeting who unanimously voted that Özlem should step down as General Secretary of the TCIP. A day later Ataç exercised presidential power to remove Özlem, and effectively place Öztürk in his place. Öztürk swore into office on the December 17th.

Tenure as General Secretary

Sahnaz uzun

Öztürk in December 2003 shortly after becoming General Secretary. This was the first photograph of Öztürk released internationally.

Almost immediately after becoming General Secretary Öztürk cemented his control on the TCIP demoting members he named moderate, arresting those close to Özlem and promoting those he deemed loyal. Most of these associates were members of the Güvenliki. Özlem was also arrested and tried for human right abuses, and was sentenced to death. International observers quickly noted that Özlem's trial was for show.

Early in his tenure as General Secretary, Öztürk adopted a neutral foreign policy, stressing that Turkey was "ideologically independent from any country or alliance". In March 2003 Turkey became part of the Non-aligned movement, and started to engage in trade with China and the European Union. Öztürk also gave increased autonomy to Thrace, as well as heavily invest in designated tourist areas of Turkey. Despite this reports of increased governmental control surfaced in Turkey, with ethnic Greeks deported out of Thrace.

To combat unemployment and famine in Turkey Öztürk had Kurdish farmers forcibly evicted from their lands establishing collective farms in their place. Öztürk also utilise the army so it would round up and force citizens to work in textiles and electronic factories in Anatolia, with the goods being exported to the Balkans and the Caucasus countries. The steadily growing tourist industry centred in Thrace allowed Turkey's national GDP to increase, although various human rights groups continued to label the situation in Turkey as "dire".

In 2003 Öztürk ordered airstrikes to be carried out against Iraq following the US-led invasion, with Turkey directly supplying Iraqi Turkmen militia in the unrecognised Kurdish held territory in Iraq. During the aftermath of the invasion Uuzn was able to negotiate with the Iraqi government for the acquisition of "Turkish land" in northern Iraq, although such negations quickly fell through due to Kurdish and Iraqi resistance.

During the latter half of the 2000's Turkey saw limited economic growth despite some market reforms in Thrace. Öztürk in 2007 visited both Syria, Libya and Iran with the intent intention to "discuss the Israeli question". During her visit to Libya she was greeted warmly by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi whom Öztürk called one of the best leaders of the 20th century, and beginning a close personal relationship with Gaddafi. Öztürk was also received well by Syrian president Bashahr al-Assad whom Öztürk similarly praised mainly for his leadership especially concerning his policies towards Israel. Prior to his resignation Öztürk also frequently visited Fidel Castro of Cuba whilst he still served as president as well as Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Political positions

Öztürk's political philosophy (known colloquially as Öztürkism) has frequently been described as being primarily a mix of Stalinism, Turkish nationalism and anti-West sentiment. Öztürk has sometimes been described as the "last leader of the Eastern Bloc".

Öztürk has stated numerous times that capitalist economic systems (especially neoliberal and laissez-faire models) always create a clear class system in which there is always a wealthy minority ruling over a poor majority, deeming all capitalist systems to be "economic apartheid". Öztürks work has noticeably criticised economists such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek as well political figures Ronald Reagan and Augusto Pinochet who he referred to as "the figureheads of modern capitalism".

Uzun speech

Öztürk giving a speech on the Israel-Palestine Conflict in March 2009

Öztürk's foreign policy has been primarily seen as anti-western, most notably in her criticism of America, Israel and Argentina. Öztürk has has voiced support for a two state solution regarding Israel and Palestine, stating that whilst the Jews need a state (lest the bourgeoisie commit genocide against the Jewish people again) the treatment of Palestinians is "comparable to actions that the Jews themselves have suffered". Öztürk has accused the Israeli government as being an American puppet, and publicly applauded the death of Israeli president Ariel Sharon. Some foreign analysts have stated that Öztürk is on purposely vague regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict due to the Öztürk government vilifying the Nazi regime and its anti-Semitic actions as well as its support for various Holocaust survivors. Öztürks policy towards America however has seen more open hatred with Öztürk stating that America is an imperialist power that "bullies and intimidates nations into calling into it sphere of influence by appointing dictators that seek to oppress the rights of the people." Öztürk has also criticised Sierra to a much greater extent then previous Turkish leaders calling the nation "the new United Kingdom" (in reference to the perception that the former British governments special relationship with America led it to becoming a puppet state of the latter). Öztürk has criticised Western culture as being overly consumerist and promoting ignorance.

Personal life

Öztürk lives in the Palace of the People in Ankara. The Palace is also where the
Palace of the People

Palace of the People

Central Committee, the Politburo and the People's Supreme Assembly meet. Öztürk's private residence is located in the town of Ağın in Anatolia.

Öztürk met his wife Şahnaz Öztürk in a Güvenliki training camp in 1976. They married two years later after Uzun became pregnant with their first child, a girl named Gültan. Two years later their son Başbağ was born. Both of Öztürk's children are frequently seen in Turkish propaganda, with some international observers stating that Öztürk is grooming his daughter Gültan as his eventual successor.

Orders and awards

Domestic

  • Flag of the Democratic Republic of Turkey Hero of the Democratic Republic of Turkey (2010)
  • Flag of the Democratic Republic of Turkey Hero of Socialist Labour (1995)
  • Flag of the Democratic Republic of Turkey Hero of the Turkish people (2011)
  • Flag of the Democratic Republic of Turkey Order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (twice; 1991 and 2004)
  • Flag of the Democratic Republic of Turkey Order of National Communism (2007)
  • Flag of the Democratic Republic of Turkey Order of the Red Star (2002)
  • Flag of the Democratic Republic of Turkey Order of the Turkish Revolution (1998)

International

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