Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (IPA: ; born 26 February 1954) is a Turkish politician who has been the Prime Minister of Turkey since 2003. He is also the chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which holds a majority of the seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Erdoğan previously served as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. He graduated in 1981 from Marmara University's Faculty of Economics and Commercial Sciences. Erdoğan was also a semi-professional footballer from 1969 to 1982.
Erdoğan was elected Mayor of Istanbul in the local elections of 27 March 1994. He was banned from office and sentenced to a prison term for reciting text (""The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers....") from a poem during a public address in the province of Siirt on 12 December 1997. The poem was allegedly quoted from a book published by a state enterprise and one that had been recommended to teachers by the Ministry of Education, but the lines recited do not appear in the original poem. After six months in prison, Erdoğan established the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on August 14, 2001. From its first year, the AK Party became the largest publicly-supported political movement in Turkey. In the general election of 2002 the AK Party won nearly two-thirds of the seats in parliament, forming the first single-party government for 19 years.
As prime minister, Erdoğan implemented numerous reforms. 45 years after Turkey signed an Association Agreement with the EU, the negotiations for Turkey's accession to the EU started during Erdoğan's tenure. Parallel to this, inflation, which had for decades adversely affected the country's economy, was brought under control and the Turkish Lira regained its former prestige through the elimination of six zeros.