Atatürk's Statesman Qualification

Atatürk's Statesman Qualification
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"It is the homeland we live in, the Turkish Nation from which we emerge, and the conclusions we draw from the history of nations that have recorded a thousand and one disasters and suffering." Mustafa Kemal Atatürk



Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, was a great statesman. This characteristic of Atatürk has been the subject of various studies and articles by both local and foreign scientists, intellectuals, great soldiers and statesmen. The general opinion on this subject is that Atatürk was an exceptional personality full of the values ​​required by modern state life. To put it more clearly, Atatürk is a charismatic leader.

In this study, we would like to discuss Atatürk's statesmanship and explain with examples what kind of charisma he was.


The statesman must be a leader. For this reason, it would be very appropriate to begin the qualification of statesman by examining the concept of leadership.

A. Who is the Leader?

In terms of public administration, a leader can be defined as a person who can unite people in pursuit of a goal. In other words, leadership is the art of getting people to turn plans and decisions into action. This is a human skill. That's why some people are better at this than others.

According to Simon, Smithburg, and Thompson, a person's being accepted as a leader first depends on his/her superior qualities being accepted by his followers, these qualities reassuring them and enabling them to accept his influence. one

Intelligence, education, superiority of experience, giving direction to people and showing solutions are at the beginning of the qualifications sought in people who can be leaders.

On the other hand, the influence of the leader largely depends on the situation he is in. For this reason, it has been seen that in some cases, great depressions bring great leaders.

B. Charismatic Leader

After defining the concept of "leader" in general and revealing the characteristics of leadership, we need to give a brief information about the concept of "charismatic leadership" as it is relevant to our subject.

The term charisma was coined by the German sociologist Ernst Troeltsch.

The term charisma is used for an executive with extraordinary prestige and influence in the face of the masses. Charismatic power, according to Max Weber, refers to the dominance of a person who transcends himself as an individual, but enlivens a divinity in himself. It is from this transcendence that one exercises one's power over the group. 2

Weber defines charismatic authority as the type of authority that emerges as a result of a person's holiness or heroic power or exemplary qualities and those governed by that person in complete submission to the established order. A charismatic leader is someone who ranks above average people in the eyes of his followers and is able to work miracles for their benefit. What is important for charismatic leadership is to create a firm belief in the broad masses that the leader has extraordinary qualities. In a sense, a charismatic leader is a leadership created by great depressions.


Scientists examining Atatürk's leadership structure agree that this leadership style is suitable for "charismatic leadership". 3

Atatürk is considered a charismatic leader with his achievements and statesmanship qualities. According to Dankwart A. Rustow, “Atatürk's role during the transition of the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic is, in Weber's words, charismatic.”  4  Truly establishing a new state is the work of superior power and success. Atatürk became the man of this superior power and success with his superior personality.

Great Atatürk both made the intellectual preparation of the Turkish revolution and brought it to success and victory in the field of action. The revolutionary Atatürk established a state based on brand new foundations on an empire that he believed had completed its time. 5

Very few leaders in history have changed the course of history and have become a "national leader" or "historical leader". Here is the great Atatürk, who came out of the heart of the nation to save the lands of the invaded country, freed Anatolia from captivity and changed the course of history. is a leader.


Great men raise great nations. A nation whose history lacks a great man is a poor nation. Atatürk is the last great man raised by the great Turkish Nation, which takes its roots from the depths of history.

According to the statements of Kılıç Ali, one of Atatürk's close friends, 6 , “When Atatürk's life is examined, it can be seen that he had a very lively and active lifestyle since his youth and school life. No matter where or what rank he is, we always see him as a head. Wherever he goes, in whatever assembly he is in, it is immediately seen that he is the head of these assemblies and meetings. Even as a young military officer, we witness that even the commanders under his command submit to him many times.”

On July 20, 1922, after Gazi Mustafa Kemal's decision to extend the authority of the Commander-in-Chief from the CPC Assembly again, on the pretext of meeting with the British General Towshend, who had come to Konya to visit him at that time, to review the final preparations once again, on 21 July. He left Ankara in 1922. First, he stopped by the General Headquarters of the Front in Akşehir. After discussing the offensive preparation plan with İsmet Pasha, he left once to study with the Chief of General Staff. He received General Towshend in Konya on 24 July. This famous General of the First World War left him with great admiration after his meeting with Mustafa Kemal and said, “I have had private and official speeches with 15 rulers and presidents so far. There is a mystery of great spiritual power in Mustafa Kemal.7

When the Turkish armies poured the Greek armies into the Mediterranean in 1922, the British Parliament held a big meeting. An exciting scene took place in the House of Lords and the House of Commons. When the hearing opens, the leader of the British Labor Party, Macdonald, comes to the podium and calls out:

- “Where is Deputy Lloyd George? What did he promise us, what was the result? He took large sums of money from the treasury and cost us for nothing. When the Straits would be ours, Anatolia would be partitioned? Hey, none happened. Let us account for this!”

Lloyd George came slowly to the podium when he said:

- "Friends! Centuries rarely produce geniuses. Look at our misfortune that the Turkish Nation raised that great genius in our century. What can be done against the genius of Mustafa Kemal?" He says and gets down from the podium. He then resigns from the Prime Ministry .

According to the Greek intellectual Thomas Vaidis, “It is an accepted fact that Mustafa Kemal crossed the borders of Turkey and turned the world's attention to the new Turkey, his creation, with great care. Many are ready to doubt this point, that the new Turkey is the work of Mustafa Kemal. Maybe they have rights too. It is a matter of looking at things narrowly or broadly. But if there is one thing that cannot be doubted, it is that the idea of ​​resistance, which cannot be explained or denied in a wrong way, that Turkey deserves a better future, that Turkey is strong and respected by its friends and feared by its enemies, is that Turkey has severed its ties with everything from the past. The idea is that the idea of ​​establishing an establishment was born in the spirit of Mustafa Kemal, processed with his intelligence and realized by his hands. 9

Many statesmen and intellectuals have opinions about Atatürk's superior personality. It is not possible for us to touch all of them here.

As a result, Atatürk's being a great statesman was accepted by many local and foreign thinkers and scientists, as well as by great statesmen.


Atatürk had some features that made him a great statesman. We will try to reveal some of these features by considering some very important ones.

A. Decision-Making Qualities

Atatürk was adept at making quick, precise and accurate decisions. His decisions were based on plan and calculation, and he acted prudently, leaving nothing to chance.

Mustafa Kemal was brave; because, in order to be successful in what he was going to do, he would decide in advance to act cautiously against them by completing the preparation of all the conditions and calculating what the other person could do. For example, he said that when he decided on the Great Offensive, while determining his plans, he calculated what actions the enemy forces could take in response and thought ahead to take measures, even in the worst case scenarios. 10

The phrase "A work and work is a mirror that shows the character and power of its owner" should not be considered an empty phrase. Mustafa Kemal prepared every job he was going to do for days, sometimes months, thinking carefully. Once he had made up his mind, no hardship could turn him off his path. In everything he did, his perseverance and character were clearly read. Everything that is tangible in Turkey today is the fruit of his strength and ability, his tireless work, and his hard work day and night. 11th

The military training and experience he received had a great contribution in the development of Atatürk's ability to make accurate and quick decisions. Because before Atatürk became a "good statesman", he was a "good commander". An important part of Atatürk's life was spent as a "commander". As a matter of fact, Mustafa Kemal, who was appointed to the 19th Division Command on January 18, 1915, served as the 12th group commander, the corps commander, the army commander and the commander-in-chief, respectively .

Commanders, after judging the situations, come across several different types of action. Choosing the most suitable one for the time and conditions is the skill of the commander, and those with high mental and spiritual abilities have no difficulty in reaching the right decisions. There are many people who think and see well, who lack the power to implement their decisions or to find the right path. 13

Mustafa Kemal liked to impose his views; but it was never the result of a random breeze, a whim. He kept every suggestion and every reform in his mind for a long time, thought for a long time, matured it well, and then put it forward. He was not satisfied with this, he thought about how to impose it on his environment, how to ensure that he was intimidated, calculated what its effects would be, but then put it on the agenda. But when he firmly believed that it was useful, he ruthlessly removed every obstacle and put it into practice. 14

According to Hasan Rıza Soyak, an American female journalist told Atatürk  :

- “How do you succeed in your work? He asked and got the following answer:

- “I don't think about how I will be successful at a job. I wonder what will prevent that work: Once you remove the obstacles, the work will go by itself.”

B. Diligence

There was no such thing as working hours for Atatürk. He worked without sleeping, resting or eating until he finished his work. It was not uncommon for him to work twenty-four hours a day without moving from his dry-study chair. During his years of struggle, he had not known what normal regular sleep was. When Atatürk was busy with history, language and generally the country's problems, he worked without sleeping as if he were on the battlefield and found his greatest pleasure in providing the slightest benefit and serving his beloved nation. He was convinced that it was necessary to close the centuries that the Turkish Nation had lost with hard work. This is how Atatürk worked and created today's glorious Turkish Nation and the Republic of Turkey. 16

Hasan Rıza Soyak, one of Atatürk's most trusted people and who was his chief of staff and secretary general, tells:

During his studies, Atatürk was never bound by the concepts of time, space and even possibility. Wherever and under any circumstances, whenever an official, national or national duty arose, he would immediately try to fulfill it. Most of the time, there were times when we worked in the car and examined documents at the insistence of any trip, in the countryside, on the slope. While having fun, when he sees me or an attendant, he immediately asks, “You want me?” and when he got a positive answer, he would stop the fun and follow the officer. We had the authority to wake him up every time we made a decision, even if he was asleep. Atatürk could not rest without finishing a task that came to his hand. Even if there was no necessity, it was not customary to put things forward; It is also the case that he sometimes read non-stop and worked forty-eight hours.

Once, I returned to Ankara from an Istanbul trip. I immediately went to the mansion, and asked the servants how Atatürk was doing. "He has been studying for two days and two nights, he has taken a bath several times and rested on the sunbed." they said. I went straight to the bedroom. Atatürk was sitting cross-legged on the armchair. He usually sits this way. He had a history book in his hand, trying to finish it. He said to me, "Welcome!" after saying:

- “I got a book, I don't know how long I've been reading it.” he added.

- "Aren't you tired, Pasha?" I asked.

- "No!" said.

- “I only have tears in my eyes; but i found a solution for that too. I had some cheesecloth removed and cut it piece by piece. I'm wiping my eyes with these pieces."  18

This example shows that Atatürk did not recognize the concept of time in his work.

Cevat Abbas Gürer, who served as Atatürk's aide from Çanakkale and went to Anatolia with him and became a deputy after the victory, expresses Atatürk's hard work as follows:

The time Atatürk spent awake and the time he spent asleep are incomparably different. I will not go into details and explain by classifying Atatürk's work, which is too rich to fit in a human life. The explanation of Atatürk's unceasing, restless and abrasive working style does not fit in this article. I will only try to summarize what Atatürk sacrificed for his work and to what extent he sacrificed himself for his work, without classifying and detailed explanations of the situations and events that Atatürk was in. He could never fit his hour-long life into a program. In any case, the events he faced did not allow him to lead a programmed life, as they required hasty decisions and implementations that could not be left to time.

In daily state affairs, as in battles, he wanted this task to be presented to him at all hours of the day or night, depending on its importance. He was not a friend of sleep. Except for the short illness he had from time to time, he would not go to bed and sleep without seeing the morning sun. He often took pity on the time he spent asleep. He once told me:

- "Life is very short. Childhood and school life take some of it. Sleep cuts the rest in half. If tablets are invented that will relieve insomnia and give the human body the resting food it gives to the human body... One day it will be too. As a matter of fact, medicine and chemistry are used to put science to sleep." They have made some very good medicines."

He added with a laugh:

- "We can expand this further. The food of the armies can also be made into tablets one day. Soldiers can carry their monthly food in their bags. There remains only the work of transporting ammunition. It is also provided by motor vehicles. What does such an army do?.." 20

C. Realism

Atatürk, a versatile person, was a realist. Atatürk was a person who sought the truth and whose strength and power increased as he found it. He wouldn't leave anything to chance. He was not adventurous but calculating; It was literally realistic.

In his 1923 speech, Atatürk  said , “We will always tell each other the truth. Let it bring disaster and happiness, whether it is good or bad, we will always stay away from the truth.” he said. Likewise, in a speech  22 in 1931 , “we should always be men who seek the truth and dare to reveal it as we find it and as long as we are convinced that we have found it.” By saying this, he both revealed his realism and showed a direction to the state administrators.

Thus, Atatürk, who followed a realistic path throughout his life, wanted everyone who was a manager and even civil servants to be realistic.

Atatürk has always considered dreaming as a big mistake, both in domestic and foreign policy. According to him, “There can be no greater mistake than being a dreamer in the face of today's general conditions of the world and the facts accumulated in the minds and characters over the centuries. This is what history tells; This is the expression of science, reason and logic.” 23  Again, according to Atatürk, “one of the things we mean when we say national politics and one of the issues we want to point out is not to harm the nation by taking their time in pursuit of unachievable goals.” 24

Atatürk was a realist in foreign policy as he was in domestic politics. Since he knew very well what the nation suffered from imaginative and adventurous behavior, he was extremely cautious not to jeopardize the victories won. 25

The most natural result of Atatürk's being realistic is the fact that he bases all his works on reason and science.

D. Foresightedness

Atatürk was a forward-thinking statesman. One of the qualities that great statesmen should have is farsightedness.

Rather than explaining Atatürk's farsightedness with words, it would be much more accurate to deal with the memories of some people close to him.

According to what Kılıç Ali told,  26  Mustafa Kemal, one evening in Thessaloniki, met with the former Deputy of Foreign Affairs, who was then the sanitary inspector. Tevfik Rüştü Araş, Nuri Conker and Salih Bozok were sitting in the Olympios beer house with the gentlemen, and while they were drinking, the foreign policy of the state was at stake. In the meantime, Mustafa Kemal, after making some bitter criticisms, made a joke and showed Tevfik Rüştü Bey:

- “One day I will fix this corrupt policy through a doctor.” Nuri Conker, his close and informal friend, said:

- “What? What?... Are you going to have it fixed?” he asked contemptuously.

Thereupon, the following conversation took place between him and Nuri Bey;

- “Yes, I will make the doctor the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I will have him repair all the faults.”

Nuri Bey politely asked:

- "So you're going to make the doctor Deputy Foreign Affairs, then what about me?"

- “I will make you governor and commander!”

Salih Bozok, who is ready for this speech, also interferes:

- "I suppose you'll do something about me in the meantime?"

Mustafa Kemal, after thinking about this question of Mr. Salih:

- "Salih, I will make you aide and I will not leave you." When Nuri Bey gave his answer, he could not stand it again, throwing himself out again: - "If you love your God, what will you do that you are already giving us all such positions?" said.

Mustafa Kemal, laughing at this question asked by Nuri Bey, said:

- “Whatever gives these offices, these positions, it will be me.” he replied.

According to Kılıç Ali's statement, Atatürk had his friends repeat this speech, which took place among his friends when he was a young officer, and which was considered a manifestation of foresight and wonder.

Afet Inan tells a very interesting memory about Ataturk's foresight: “Perhaps it is a strange event... It was a moment when Mustafa Kemal read one of Mussolini's statements about Turkey. Again he became ambitious and said of Mussolini: He is not a good person for his country. You will see that they will hang it from their feet. I was surprised. What did it mean to hang them by their feet? Indeed, it did. I don't know if this is his foresight or not." 27

Indeed, as Afet Inan states, Mussolini was killed by the Italians by hanging him by the feet.

One of Atatürk's close friends and who served as his Foreign Minister for 12 years, Dr. Tevfik Rüştü Araş describes a memory of Atatürk that shows both his industriousness and his farsightedness as follows:

“One day in the late spring of 1920, Mustafa Kemal invited me to the house where he lived next to Ankara Station. We discussed some issues related to the secret organization called the "Green Army". That night, Mustafa Kemal invited some of his friends and asked us to congregate before him. So it was done. As I remember it, we arrived that night, about nine or ten people. Among those present, I remember well our esteemed President, the late Muhtar Bey, the late Yunus Nadi Bey and Kılıç Ali Bey. When serious matters were discussed, nothing but coffee was drunk in the presence of Atatürk. Alcohol was never allowed. The meeting that night went on for a long time. By the time it was over, it was two hours past midnight. As usual, he chaired the meeting and moderated the discussions. Reports from various places and people from abroad and inside the country were read, various issues related to the liberation of the country were discussed, and opinions and even some decisions that we agreed upon after tough discussions were written in order. After our meeting was completely over, Mustafa Kemal addressed me as he was drinking the last coffee for that night:

- “Today afternoon, I talked to a friend about these issues and took some notes. Tevfik Rüştü, would you please take those notes in the flower pot in the corner and read them?" said.

Naturally, I found the paper he wanted and started reading it. We were all astonished. We saw that all the decisions that we had come to by talking for hours and that we thought were exactly the same were written on that note paper.”

E. Love of Homeland and Nation

The love of country and nation is one of the most important principles that has been a motto for Atatürk throughout his life, from his education years until his death.

According to Atatürk, “There is no mastery to the nation, there is servanthood. The one who serve this country, become its master."

In one of his speeches, Atatürk expressed this principle he adhered to as follows: “The one who draws our path; They are the results we draw from the homeland we live in, the Turkish Nation from which we emerge, and the leaves of the history of nations that have recorded a thousand and one disasters and suffering.” 29

Atatürk knew his homeland inch by inch. He cherished her. He was saying: “Homeland! I can give up everything for you. Blessed are you. We are all sacrifices for you; but you will remain virtuous to keep the Turkish Nation alive forever. Turkish land! You are not the grave of the Turkish Nation who loves you. Show your creativity for the Turkish Nation.”

Atatürk took the path of success with the love of his nation living on the land of his homeland. He expressed this love with the words “There is no love as great as the love of the nation”.

The love of homeland and nation found in Atatürk later manifested as the "principle of nationalism", which is a principle of Kemalism, and became one of the constitutional principles that dominate the state life.

As a result of his love for the homeland and nation, Atatürk prioritized the interests of the country and the state in domestic politics, and paid great attention to protecting Turkey's reputation in foreign policy. Atatürk was in no way tolerant towards statesmen who had some wishes for Turkey in foreign policy and always resisted to prevent them. An incident reported by Afet Inan is extremely interesting in terms of showing this quality of Atatürk:

As it is known, Mussolini had a big claim on Turkey in those years. Mussolini set his eyes on some of our places in a way that would revive the old Roman Empire. In the meantime, he had also invaded Abyssinia. During this period, some of Mussolini's statements were coming out. I saw that Atatürk was very ambitious when he read these statements. Ask yourself, “How? He cannot covet our country!” he was saying. It was a 29th of October, and again Mussolini made such a statement about Turkey. On that day, there was a feast to be given to all ambassadors in Ankara Palas. Atatürk would go there too. But after reading the news about Mussolini's statement, I saw that he was very ambitious. At that time, the Italian Ambassador had just arrived in Turkey and had just given his credentials. At the dinner, the Italian Ambassador was sitting next to Atatürk. Tevfik Rüştü Araş was sitting on Atatürk's right. Addressing Tevfik Rüştü Aras, Atatürk said: “I want to say something to Your Excellency. Translate it!” And he started talking about that statement of Mussolini. Tevfik Rüştü Araş suddenly hesitated. Then Atatürk said, “Oh… yes! You leave! I speak myself! You don't need to translate!” said. I also saw that Atatürk, directly addressing the ambassador in French, began to speak loudly, criticizing Mussolini's statement that day. Of course, everyone at the table fell silent and began to listen. However, they had been talking to each other before. When Atatürk started to speak, they stopped. This speech did not appear in the newspapers of that time. In his speech, Atatürk severely criticized Mussolini's words: “He cannot set his eyes on our country in any way, he must keep this in mind!” said. Then, turning to the other guests, he said, “You listened to what I said. These are my opinions against the words of Mussolini. I want the esteemed ambassador to write them in his own country, to Mussolini, as they were!” he said. Afet Inan stated that he did not know whether the Italian Ambassador wrote them or not, but that he had witnessed this event together with those present.30

Operator Mim Kemal Öke told the following incident to indicate the importance Atatürk gave to our national pride: 31

"One day, Raşit Erer, one of the former Ministers of Finance, showed me that there was a phrase in Larousse that said, "Turks screw their political prisoners." I presented this to Atatürk at a dinner party. Gazi promptly brought Larousse from his library and had him read the statement. He was terribly angry. They immediately ordered Hakkı Tarık Us to make the necessary attempts to correct it. It is thanks to Atatürk that such an expression no longer exists in the New Larousses."

This very simple example shows how sensitive Atatürk was when it came to national honor and dignity.

F. Idealism

Atatürk was a litigator. As a result, he pursued great ideals. Atatürk, who is great with what he does, is also great with his ideas and ideals.

“Don't be too busy with the little things. Always pursue big cases; In that case, your works will be muammar after you.” This laconic expression belongs to Atatürk. Today, for those who undertake the task of continuing Atatürk's Revolution, there can be no greater source of inspiration than this concise sign of him. Thus, Atatürk is a person who has set an example for those around him and those who will come after him, not only as a great commander and a great reformer, but also as a head of state. 32

Celal Bayar, for Atatürk's words, said, “Now I better understand the meaning of this expression, which is often among the advices I have received from him in life. To be a great man, you have to do great work. Anyone can see the small job.” 33 said.

Starting from the reality of the nation, Atatürk's first great ideal was the freedom and independence of the nation. Freedom and independence have been the glorious and honorable destiny of Turkishness. Atatürk, on the other hand, became a national hero who drew this destiny of Turkishness.

Realizing the ideal of a free and independent Turkey that saves the homeland, Atatürk directed the new Turkey to the ideal of modern civilization in order to become western and modernize it.

“The aim of the revolutions we have made and are making is to bring the people of the Republic of Turkey into a completely modern and civilized society with all its meaning and appearance. This is the main principle of our revolutions.” 34

Great Atatürk expresses his great ideal in his Tenth Year Speech as follows:

"We made great and lots of things in such a short time. The biggest of these works is the Republic of Turkey, which is based on Turkish Heroism and high Turkish culture... But we never see what we do as enough. Because we have to do more and bigger things and we are determined. We will raise our country to the level of the most prosperous and civilized countries in the world. We will make our nation possess the widest wealth, means and resources. We will raise our national culture above the level of contemporary civilization.”

Atatürk gives the following duty to the great Turkish Nation regarding the continuation of its high ideal:

“This should be the last word of those who will leave this world and bid farewell to the Turkish Nation, to their children, to those who will live after them: My duties regarding the Turkish Nation, the Turkish Republic and the future of Turkishness have not been completed, you will complete them. Repeat my words to those who follow you. These words are the expression of the feeling of a Turkish Nation, not of an individual. Every Turk will give his last breath by repeating this to his successors like a password. The last breath of every Turkish individual should show that the breath of the Turkish Nation will not go out and that it is eternal. High Turk! Height has no limits for you. That's the password." 35

Atatürk, as a requirement of his idealism, never pursued personal ambitions and ambitions, and stated that rulers who acted in this way would cause great harm to the country: According to him, “the personal ambitions and personal disputes of the rulers who are responsible for the management of a nation, especially in a nation, are part of their national and national duties. It is not possible for countries that have reached the level of overcoming the high feelings they require to avoid disintegration and sinking.” 36

G. Consultation

Süreyya Yiğit, who knows her private life very well because she is Atatürk's friend for thirty years, says the following on this subject: 37

- “Atatürk never complimented alcohol while preparing great works. As a matter of fact, we drank while we were in Erzurum. When we offered, he did not accept, he only drank coffee. He would listen to each individual's opinion before deciding on any issue. He had a formidable willpower. He drank alcohol not out of a weakness of will, but outright to get drunk.”

Hasan Rıza Soyak describes the value Atatürk gave to the exchange of ideas as follows: 38

“Atatürk wanted every officer to try to solve the tasks he took on, by using his mind, intelligence and legal powers to the last limit, and not hesitate to take responsibility. He would not express his opinion on a subject without listening to the views of the concerned and officials, or even without negotiating with them. I do not remember receiving an order during my entire working life in his entourage without speaking and exchanging ideas. At the same time, I don't remember ever having the feeling of shying away from presenting any opinion that came to his mind in many of our conversations."

Atatürk said in 1921, “There is only one principle that is legitimate for the government in the world, and that is consultation. The first and essential condition for the government is consultation alone and alone.” By saying 39 , he emphasized the importance of the exchange of ideas in the life of the state.

H. Compassion and Humanity

Atatürk had a very compassionate and loving nature. His heart was full of love of nation and love of people.

Because of this feature, Atatürk was against wars, but he allowed war "if it was necessary and vital". Atatürk's measure on this issue is as follows: “I should not feel any torment in my conscience when I take the nation to war. Contrary to those who say we will kill, we can enter the war saying "We will not die". But when the nation's life is not in danger, war is murder." 40

Atatürk's humanitarian character also shows itself in the state administration. Atatürk envisaged this qualification not only for himself, but as a principle for all civil servants.

Indeed, in a speech he made in 1937, he said, “The basic principle of advanced government is that it can sincerely convince the people of its compassion as well as its power. It would be appropriate to give importance to the widest development of this mentality in all Republic officials, large and small.” 41

According to Atatürk, “The dictator is the one who subjugates others to his will. I want to rule not by breaking hearts, but by winning hearts.”  He said 42  . As a result of this, the great Atatürk, both in the National Struggle and after the victory, took the path of success with the love of his nation.


Some consider him a dictator, while others strongly reject this view. According to Bulgarian intellectual Parushev, “both sides have rights. He was not a dictator, but he knew how to act like a dictator when necessary. His personality is incompatible with the typical aspects of dictators in history. There are dictators who choose tyranny to protect their rule. Mustafa Kemal used dictatorial ways to realize his goals that exceeded his own personality. The occasional fluctuations in his personality can never be taken as evidence for this or the other thesis. In history, fluctuations in the private life of individuals cannot be the deciding factor in their roles in society. They can only be the different colors of your life. The important thing is the goal, the important thing is the method to reach the goal, the important thing is the result. 43

Although Atatürk had all the necessary and sufficient means, power, and the nation's endless trust and love to establish a dictatorship in his hands, he never set out on this path. 44

Mustafa Kemal got angry with those who called him a "dictator" and said:

- “If they call those who have their ideas accepted by force, pressure and threats, dictators, I am not a dictator. If the people in my neighborhood appreciate the accuracy of my ideas and accept these ideas voluntarily and work accordingly, I am a dictator.” 45

In 1930, the First History Congress was held in Ankara Community Center. Since the season was summer and schools were on holiday, middle and high school teachers were invited to this congress together with university professors. The meeting lasted a week. At the end of the congress, a tea was given to the members at the Marmara Mansion. The teachers, who surrounded Atatürk, put Atatürk under pressure with some random questions at the tea, which passed in a friendly atmosphere and continued with foot-tapping conversations.

One of the teachers told Atatürk:

- “Pasha! Many European writers describe you as a dictator in their works. What do you order that?" he had asked a question.

Atatürk answered this question very calmly and with a smile:

- “I am not a dictator and neither have I been enthusiastic. Judge from this that I am not a dictator: If I were a dictator, you wouldn't be able to ask me this question!” they replied, graciously and very reasonably. 46

Sir Percy Loraine, who was the British Ambassador in Ankara in the 1930s during Atatürk's Presidency, gives the following opinion on this subject in his review titled “Kemal Atatürk: An Evaluation” published in 1948:

“Atatürk is described as a dictator. In my opinion, this view of him is false and misleading, and we must admit that we do not have an authoritative definition of dictators in modern times. However, no one can be found who would object to the use of this adjective for Hitler or Mussolini. Then you may ask why Atatürk does not belong to the same category. There are many reasons for this. The main of these reasons is that he consciously establishes a mechanism that will work even in his absence. He wanted to achieve this by trying to create a systematic government and administration that would live on after him, and by trying to teach his doctrines rather than conforming to his views... Revolutions are not child's play. In the first days, before the new constitution was made and its establishments regained their normal functioning, Atatürk, he had to act on his own initiative in many matters. Moreover, he had difficulties in dealing with legal forms... Rather than giving orders to everyone for everything, as is commonly believed, he was constantly trying to make all ministries accomplish their responsibilities... As far back as 1923, Atatürk had ten years He boldly told his nation that all the achievements and sacrifices made in the National Struggle would be useless if a national economy system could not be established within the country... What was there in Atatürk's foreign policy to smell of dictatorship? Nothing!" Rather than giving orders to everyone for everything, he was constantly trying to make all ministries achieve their own responsibilities... As long ago as 1923, Atatürk stated that if a national economy system could not be established within ten years, all the successes and sacrifices made in the National Struggle would be of no use. He boldly said to his nation that it would not work... What was there in Atatürk's foreign policy to smell of dictatorship? Nothing!" Rather than giving orders to everyone for everything, he was constantly trying to make all ministries achieve their own responsibilities... As long ago as 1923, Atatürk stated that if a national economy system could not be established within ten years, all the successes and sacrifices made in the National Struggle would be of no use. He boldly said to his nation that it would not work... What was there in Atatürk's foreign policy to smell of dictatorship? Nothing!" What was there in Atatürk's foreign policy to smell dictatorship? Nothing!" What was there in Atatürk's foreign policy to smell dictatorship? Nothing!"47


Atatürk is one of the greatest statesmen of our age. He was a forward-thinking leader, who was quick and precise when necessary, who thoughtfully prepared his work for days, sometimes months, but always found the right decision and solution in both cases. His decisions were based on plan and calculation, and he acted prudently, leaving nothing to chance. Once he had made up his mind, no hardship could turn him off his path. In everything he did, his perseverance and character were clearly read.

Atatürk was hardworking and intelligent. He valued exchange of ideas and consultation. Atatürk was a litigator who always pursued great ideals for his country and nation.

Atatürk's great statesman qualification is a fact accepted by many local and foreign scientists, ideas and statesmen.

We would like to end this article, which aims to address and reveal some of Atatürk's great statesman qualities, with an evaluation of Lord Kinross, who is well known and known in our country.

Lord Kinross, in his book Atatürk : The Rebirth of a Nation (Atatürk: The Rebirth of a Nation), makes the following assessment about Atatürk: “I have not the slightest doubt that Kemal Atatürk is one of the greatest statesmen of our age. Winston Churchill, one of the greatest men of my country, describes Atatürk as one of the four or five greatest personalities of the First World War and after. Churchill referred to him as “The Warrior Prince, the leader of the Turkish Nation, as a great soldier”. That is the truth. Atatürk was first and foremost a great soldier; but over time, he became a great statesman. Besides many great soldiers and great statesmen that history tells us, there are very few people who combine these two characteristics and Atatürk is one of these rare people. He is a great soldier-statesman. Atatürk is a man of war on the one hand and a man of peace on the other. The great military genius in him saved his nation from collapse, and his statesman characteristic within him provided the rebirth of his nation, whose life he radiated. This great achievement is the result of rare combinations of talents in humans.48

NOTE: This conference was given at Selçuk University within the framework of 10 November Atatürk Commemoration Week.

1 HA Simon, DW Smithburg, VA Thompson, Public Administration, (Trans. C. Mıhçıoğlu), Ankara, 1975, p. 93.

2 See. Meydan Larousse, Charisma article.

3 İsmet İnönü, “State Founder Atatürk”, Atatürk Conferences-III, 1969, Ankara 1970, p. one.

4 Dankwart A. Rustow, “Atatürk as the Founder of the State”, Gift to Abadan, Ankara 1969, p. 574.

5 Taner Timur, Turkish Revolution, Its Historical Meaning and Philosophical Basis, Ankara 1968, p. 94.

6 Sword Ali. Atatürk's Specialties, Istanbul 1955, p. 31.

7 S. Omurtak, HA Yucel, t. Sungu, EZ Karal, FR Unat, E. Sökmen, U. İğdemir, Atatürk, İstanbul 1970, p. 157.

8 Enver Behnan Şapolyo, Kemal Atatürk and the History of the National Struggle, Istanbul 1958, p. 508.

9 Thomas A. Vaidis, Kemal Atatürk, Founder of New Turkey, (Trans. Ahmet Angin), Istanbul 1967, p. 12.

10 A. Afetan, What I Wrote From M. Kemal Atatürk, Istanbul 1971, p. 114.

11 “Memories of Former General Clerk Tevfik Bıyıklıoğlu”, Memories from His Relatives, Istanbul 1955, p. 90-91.

12 In the First World War, the force that was formed in many cases and was more than a division was called a “group”. In the establishment of our groups in Çanakkale, there were units from two to six divisions.

13 Fahri Belen, Atatürk's Military Personality, Istanbul 1963, p. 37.

14 Parashev Parushev, Ataturk. (trans. Naime Yılmaer), Istanbul 1981, p. 305.

15 “Memories from Hasan Rıza Soyak”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 10.

16 “Memories of Former General Clerk Tevfik Bıyıklıoğlu”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 91.

17 “Memories from Hasan Rıza Soyak”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 7-8.

18 “Memories of Hasan Rıza Soyak”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 8.

19 “Some Memories of Cevat Abbas Gürer”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 58-59.

20 “Some Memories of Cevat Abbas Gürer”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 59.

21 Kemalism, The First Book, Ataturk's Views and Directives, Ankara 1982, p. 110.

22 Kemalism, supra, p. 110.

23 Kemalism, supra, p. 71.

24 Kemalism, supra, p. 71.

25 Hamza Eroğlu, Atatürk's Superior Personality, Ankara, no edition date, p. 75.

26 Sword Ali. age, p. 32-33.

27 Afet İnan, “Some Characteristics of Atatürk”, Journal of Atatürk Research Center, CI, Issue: 1, November 1984.

28 “Dr. A Few of Tevfik Rüştü Aras's Rich Memories…”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 32-33.

29 Enver Ziya Karal, Thoughts from Atatürk, Ankara 1956, p. 151.

30 Afet İnan, “Some Characteristics of Atatürk”, Journal of Atatürk Research Center, CI, Issue: 1, November 1984, p. 98-99.

31 “A Few Memories from the Late M. Kemal Öke”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 104-105.

32 Celal Bayar, Memories from Atatürk, Istanbul 1955, p. 105-106.

33 Celal Bayar, supra, p. 67.

34 Kemalism, supra, p. 63.

35 Kemalism, supra, p. 17.

36 Kemalism, supra, p. 69.

37 “Atatürk Was My Friend for Thirty-Five Years”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 56.

38 “Memories of Hasan Rıza Soyak”, Memories from His Relatives, ibid, p. 9.

39 Kemalism, supra, p. 68.

40 Kemalism, supra, p. 78.

41 Kemalism, supra, p. 68.

42 Kemalism, supra, p. 121.

43 Paruşev, a.g.e., s. 304-305.

44 “Memories of Former General Clerk Tevfik Bıyıklıoğlu”, Memories from His Relatives, supra, p. 88.

45 Celal Bayar, supra, p. 81.

46 Kılıç Ali, supra, p. 115.

47 Cemal Enginsoy, “Atatürk According to British Sources”, Journal of Atatürk Research Center, Vol: VII, Issue: 19, November 1990, p. 84-85.

48 Cemal Enginsoy, agm, p. 89.

Prof. Dr. Suleyman Arslan *

* Former Member of Atatürk Research Center Executive Board

Source: ATATÜRK ARAŞTIRMA MERKEZİ DERGİSİ, Sayı 36, Cilt: XII, Kasım 1996 

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Atatürk's Statesman Qualification