Tansu Ciller Biography

Tansu Penbe Çiller (b. May 24, 1946, Istanbul) is a Turkish economist, politician and the 22nd Prime Minister of Turkey. She is Turkey's first and only female prime minister to date.

Early career

She is the daughter of a Turkish governor of Bilecik province during the 1950s. She graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College after finishing the American College for Girls in Istanbul. She received her M.S. from the University of New Hampshire and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. She later completed her postdoctoral studies at Yale University. Çiller taught economics at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1978, she became a lecturer at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and in 1983 she was appointed as professor by the same institution. She also worked in the now-defunct Istanbul Bank as president of the company.


After teaching at several universities as a professor, Çiller entered politics in November 1990, joining the conservative True Path Party (DYP). She was first elected to the parliament in 1991 as deputy of Istanbul and served as Minister of State in charge of economics in the coalition government of Süleyman Demirel. On June 13, 1993, she became the party's leader and later in the same year, the Prime Minister of a coalition government. She served as prime minister from 1993 to 1996. After the withdrawal of the Republican People's Party (CHP) from the coalition in 1995 she attempted to form a minority government, which failed. After that she agreed to form another cabinet with the CHP and went for general elections.

Çiller also served as Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister and the vice prime minister between 1996 and 1997.

The EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement was signed in 1995 and came into effect in 1996 during Çiller's government. Çiller was also prime minister during the Imia/Kardak crisis with neighbouring Greece in 1996.

Tansu Çiller is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

As Prime Minister, Çiller declared that if Greece tried to separate Albania, it would have the Turkish Army in Athens 24 hours later.

After her November 2002 election defeat, she retired from political life.