It was a great honor to attend Turkish presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's press conference on Thursday July 10, which was held at Istanbul's Ciragan Palace. The event began with a video highlighting Ihsanoglu's myriad life accomplishments and subsequently he took the podium.
After listening to Ihsanoglu's speech I realize that he is one of the best politicians that Turks have come across in quite some time. His exceptional education and significant experience make me confident that he will be able to bring his vision for Turkey to fruition. As the author and translator of countless books, his stance towards issues such as corruption and poverty is fair; moreover, he is willing to help everyone and emphasizes the struggle of the Turkish lower class. Ihsanoglu's heartfelt love for his country is clear.
Further, it became clear as Ihsanoglu fielded many questions at the press conference regarding the recent Gezi Protests that he sides with the youth and supports liberal thinking and free speech. Ihsanoglu carefully stressed that he is a candidate that will represent the whole country, and that he is willing to work cooperatively, across party lines for the wellbeing of his country.
Ihsanoglu also stressed upon women's rights in Turkey as he touched upon statistics that rank Turkey as 3rd in teen marriage and still high on female suicide rates -- he pledged to amend these conditions.
As Ihsanoglu outlined his vision for presidency, I could not help but feel awe and respect towards him. I have been living in the United States for the past couple of years studying politics, philosophy and economics at the University of Pennsylvania. I truly appreciate Ihsanoglu and his vision for his country, especially during a period when Turkey needs more true leaders who cherish their country in such way and are willing to serve politics without any underlying motives. I have long been concerned about the path Turkey has gone down politically. I feel like Ihsanoglu is the best chance that Turkey has come across to change the direction of that path. Ihsanoglu was born in Egypt, and as a result of his fathers' s career at the time, has spent his early years in the country, which gives him an appreciation of Turkey that many people unfortunately lack today. Leaders like this only come once in a while in Turkey where politics tend to be corrupt and plagued by self-serving bureaucrats.
A few points he discussed during his speech especially struck me, such as his consideration on law and the respect for the rule of law. Ihsanoglu stated that in Turkey everyone should be able to hold trust in the law -- a key condition that many political scientists list when discussing the necessary conditions of good governance. In my opinion, one thing that Turkey definitely needs more of is respect for the rule of law; the judicial branch should always remain independent with respect to the separation of powers principle.
Ihsanoglu's family serves as an example because it is traditional, but also modern. His wife, Fusun Ihsanoglu, would make an elegant first lady, exemplifying to the rest of the world an educated, present-day Turkish women. Ihsanoglu's whole family serves as an exemplar of how the typical Turkish family could be both conservative and modern and highly educated at the same time.
Ihsanoglu's vision for Turkey deserves careful attention and a great deal of respect. I believe he has the potential to advance our country into the future.
In the photo: Fusun Ihsanoglu with Ege Ozyegin