Ciller finds way through the maze

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HER HUSBAND may have had to leave for the United States to get away from it all, but the conservative Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller, appears to have won her latest battle to survive in the maze of Turkish politics.

The biggest climbdown came from the parliamentary Speaker, Husamettin Cindoruk, who let it be known that his hints of taking power were just a 'warning'.

Perhaps as importantly, no other convincing candidate to lead Turkey has emerged from the instability and recession that have followed Turkey's financial crash in the first four months of the year, which was much aggravated by Mrs Ciller's poor management.

Externally, the International Monetary Fund has signalled a readiness to release key funds on the basis of Mrs Ciller's 5 April austerity package. After halving in value this year, the Turkish lira has stabilised in recent weeks.

Mrs Ciller also promised on 18 May to make a new start on human rights and a more liberal constitution. But her vague promises about ethnic self-expression fall far short of the full ethnic political and educational rights that many Western governments believe are vital to end the Kurdish rebellion.

Barring new accidents, Mrs Ciller, who celebrated her official 47th birthday yesterday, now appears set to continue as Muslim Turkey's first woman premier for several months, and perhaps until the next general elections in 1996.

But success has been at a cost, Mrs Ciller revealed to Hurriyet newspaper. Before flying to the US on Monday, she said her husband, Ozer Ciller, had left a week early because he was so fed up with criticism of his well-publicised interventions in government business.

'We are doing this together for an ideal. It's natural for Ozer to have a room here . . . to change an image, should we put someone in a coffin and bury him?' she said. 'He has closed his businesses down. Nobody said bravo. Now he doesn't eat, he doesn't go out. He is very annoyed. He will stay in the United States for a while.'

Ozer Ciller won fame as a bank general manager whose bank collapsed in the early 1980s, but who emerged rich at the end of the decade. He did not reveal how exactly that was achieved in his fast- selling book, The Art of Being Happy and Successful.