officer, diplomat, statesmen and politician (B. 29th April 1880,
Pirlepe / Macedonia – D. 7th May 1943, Istanbul) He graduated from
Harbiye Mektebi (Military School) as a lieutenant in 1900. When he graduated
from Harp Akedemisi (War College) as a staff captain in 1904, he was assigned
to the 3rd Army in Thessaloniki. There he joined İttihat ve Terakki
Cemiyeti (T.N. Committee of Union and Progress) and he was one of those who
prepared the Second Constitutional (1908). In the same year, he was promoted to
major and sent to Thessaloniki Gendarmerie Academy Command. On January 12th,
1909 he became the Military Attaché in Paris. On July 3rd, 1911
during the Albania Operation he was appointed to the General Staff of Scutari
Mürettep (T.N. Rearranged) Forces. He was sent to join the defense of Tripoli
with Enver Bey and Mustafa Kemal on 6th October 1911.
13th, 1912 Ali Fethi Bey was elected as deputy of Manastır in
Meclis-i Mebusan (T.N. Parliament of the Ottoman Empire). After Meclis-i
Mebusan was closed, he returned to army and was appointed as the General Staff
of Dardanelles Mürettep Forces. On October 13th, 1913, he became the
Sofia Ambassador. At the same time, Mustafa Kemal was there as a military
attaché, and they cultivated their friendship there. In the third period of
Meclis-i Mebusan, he was elected as deputy of Istanbul and dismissed his duty
as ambassador (8th December 1917).
After the fall of
İttihat and Terakki Goverment, he became Dahiliye Nazırı (T.N. The Minister of
Internal Affairs) in Ahmet İzzet Pasha Government on 14th October
1918. He caused the resignation of Ahmet İzzet Pasha Government because he, as
minister of internal affairs, was charged with doing nothing to stop Talat,
Enver, Cemal and Sait Halim, who were the members of former government fleeing
abroad. He published “Minber”
Newspaper with Mustafa Kemal between 1st November and 21st
December 1918. Having been accused of being a member of community supporting
İttihat (T.N. the Union), he was arrested and was detained in Bekirağa Bölüğü
(T.N. detention house) along with former Grand Vizier Sait Halim Pasha, Rıfat
Bey and Halil Bey along with the members and presidents of Assemblies of
Notables and Representatives, who were 20 people in total. He was sent into
exile to Malta on 2nd June 1919. Together with thirty-tree people,
he was released on 30th May 1921 with the help of Ankara government.
He went to Ankara on August 8th, 1921 and he was elected as the
deputy of Istanbul and then held a seat in TBMM (T.N. Grand National Assembly
of Turkey). He became the Minister of Internal Affairs on 10th
October 1921- 4th October 1922. He was elected as the deputy of
Istanbul for the second period of TBMM. From August 14th, 1923 until
the foundation of the republic, he was the Prime Minister and Minister of
Internal Affairs. Political events which caused the fall of Fethi Bey Government
led the foundation of republic with constitutional amendment on October 29th,
Shortly after the foundation of republic, he was elected to the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament for two times, on 1st November 1923 and then on 1st November 1924. However, on November 22nd, 1924 he was appointed as the Prime Minister in substitution for İsmet Pasha after the Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Party was founded by Kazım Karabekir and Ali Fuat Pashas in the same month. Contrary to İsmet Pasha’s drastic measures, Fethi Bey supported moderation and conventionalism and it was the most important reason that Fethi Bey was elected as the Prime Minister instead of İsmet Pasha. Three months later when Sheikh Sait rebellion erupted, his conventionalist policy failed and the government of Fethi Bey resigned on March 2nd 1925 and İsmet Pasha was elected Prime Minister again. On the same day, Takrir-i Sükûn Law was released and the oppositions were silenced all around the country. The Terakkiperver Party was closed. Fethi Bey was sent away to Embassy of Paris, France.
By the end of 1929, economic crisis affecting the whole world, also affected Turkey. Implementations of CHP, the ruling party, were criticized severely by some people in the country. With the encouragement of Atatürk, who supported that economic and social problems should have been solved at the Assembly and the ruling party should have been audited, he resigned from the duty of ambassadorship on 9th August 1930 and founded the Serbest Cumhuriyet Party and became its general president. Thus, he was elected to the assembly again, as the deputy of Gümüşhane. The party, founded on agreement, was quickly embraced by the conservatives after the Izmir Meeting and it was dissolved on 17th November 1930 by Okyar’s personal decision and the suggestion of Mustafa Kemal and Fethi Bey went abroad again. He was appointed to Embassy of London on 31st March 1934. Before the World War II (1939-45), he played a leading role in diplomatic and military relations between England and Turkey. He also played an important role in Montreux Convention. When Atatürk died, the President İsmet İnonü wanted to make peace with his old enemies. Thus, Fethi Bey was elected as the deputy of Bolu and returned to Turkey on January 4th, 1939. He became the Minister of Justice in the second government of Refik Saydam and held his seat there until March 12th, 1941.
Fethi Okyar died on May 7th, 1943
Even though he took on important tasks within İttihat ve Terraki, he stayed away from embezzlement and fanaticism. Thus, he could maintain his prestige after the fall of İttihat ve Terakki. Contrary to Rauf Orbay, his close friend, throughout his political career he didn’t go against Mustafa Kemal. He was regarded as an important rival to İsmet İnönü. However, he made peace with him in 1938 and he was appointed to important political positions. His three books, mainly memoires, were published.
Bolayır Muharebesinde Adem-i Muvaffakiyetin Esbabı (Istanbul 1941), Üç Devirde Bir Adam (Published by: Cemal Kutay, 1980), Fethi Okyar’ın Anıları: Atatürk, Okyar ve Çok Partili Türkiye (Published by: Osman Okyar - Mehmet Seyitdanlıoğlu, 1997).