One of the legends of our political world died yesterday, November 5. Bulent Ecevit spent the last 49 years of his 81 year life on active politics, and on serving his country. He leaves behind him a squeaky clean political name. In his life, Ecevit put before the country the most incredible example of what it means to fight, without straying from your principles, in even the most hopeless of conditions.
Ecevit fell ill May 17, at the funeral of Judge Mustafa Ozbilgin, who had been shot in the State Council in Ankara; he was carried unconscious to the Gulhane Military Hospital in the capital.
Those who saw Ecevit that day said that he had decided to ignore his own personal ill health to attend Judge Ozbilgin's funeral, since the attack on the State Council, a body which protected the basic values of the Republic, was too important to ignore.
In this sense, we see once more how Ecevit put his own life at risk for the basic values of the Republic. And in fact Ecevit was a politician who many times displayed this sort of bravery in the face of defending his beliefs. Ecevit was the target of assassination attempts in both Izmir and the US, where bullets intended for him only just narrowly missed him.
With military action on Cyprus being a very serious issue of bravery, Ecevit was the one who took the historical decision on Cyprus and carried it through. And it was not just in areas like this: Ecevit also showed a general bravery in his stances against military leadership. For example, in March of 1971, when he resigned his leadership of the CHP on the basis of not wanting to work hand in hand with the miltary power which had come in to Ankara by way of a coupe.
And he showed an even more important stance during the September 12 period in Turkey. He was the only politician who openly protested the extremely limiting conditions brought on by the military leadership in power, and he was the only intellectual voice too. By this token, Ecevit even went as far as producing the magazine "Arayis," to let his voice be heard. He was then even thrown in prison twice, both for what was written in this magazine, and for statements which made no attempt to hide what was happening in Turkey. But he never once showed even the slightest hint of straying for this path that he had cut out for himself.
And....with the Democratic Left Party which he formed with his wife, since Ecevit himself was at one time banned from engaging in politics, this man rose to power in Ankara again in 1999-2002.
Ecevit was not only a man of extreme patience and bravery. Which is why we will continue to talk about him for years. Today though, we wish the entire Turkish nation our condolences, and we bow our heads in respect before the memory of Ecevit.