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Demirel showed best and worst of Turkey

Few people in Turkey liked former President Suleyman Demirel, yet the statesman, who died June 16, represented his compatriots’ best and worst sides.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (L) and his Turkish counterpart Suleyman Demirel review the Honor guard at Ras el Teen Presidential palace in Alexandria July 26. Both leaders will discuss economic and trade issues between both countries.

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Former Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, who died June 16 of heart failure at 90, reflected many of his country’s sublime and wicked sides. He served seven terms as prime minister — with two of those terms interrupted by military coups — as well as a presidential stint (1993-2000). Under his prime ministry, many milestone investment projects were achieved, including the first Bosporus bridge connecting Istanbul's Asian and European sides.

Born to a family of struggling farmers in southwest Turkey in 1924, Demirel tended to the village flock to support himself and his relatives. Supporters would later call him, affectionately, “Sulu the Shepherd.” Through hard work and determination, the young Suleyman attended high school in another town, as his home province of Isparta did not have a high school. He graduated as a civil engineer from prestigious Istanbul Technical University in 1949.

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