Former Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz dies aged 73

Mesut Yılmaz, who served three times as Prime Minister of Turkey in the 1990s, has died aged 73 at Florence Nightingale Hospital in Istanbul, Hurriyet reported on Friday.

Yılmaz served two short terms as Prime Minister in 1991 and 1996, and then from June 1997 to January 1999 after a military memorandum forced the Islamist Welfare Party from power in 1997. 

Yılmaz led the Anavatan Partisi (ANAP) or Motherland Party, from 1991 to 2002, when the Justice and Development Party of current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power.

Yılmaz's first term in 1991 came to an end following defeat in national elections, while his second and third terms were brought to an end by the collapse of unstable political coalition governments.

Özgür Şamilgil, Chief Physician at Florence Nightingale Hospital, announced Yılmaz’s death on Friday. He had been suffering from lung cancer over the past few years. Hurriyer also reported that Yılmaz had brain surgery in May 2020. 

Yılmaz had a strained relationship with Tansu Çiller, the leader of the center-right Doğru Yol Party (DYP) and his coalition partner, the ANAP party was worn out and failed to come to power alone.

Çiller, speaking about the death of her former opponent, said “The point I'm sorry about is that we could have overcome all these divisions. We could have achieved integration. This division could lead to competition, it could lead to integration.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “'I wish my condolences to all his family, especially his wife. I say my condolences to our nation”.

He resigned from the presidency of ANAP when the party failed to pass the 10 percent national threshold needed for a political party to have a seat in the parliament in the election in November 2002.