Former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, a political force in Turkey for almost half a century who ordered the invasion of Cyprus and later pushed his country toward the West, has died.
He was 81.
Ecevit died on Sunday at Ankara's GATA military hospital after nearly six months in a coma following a stroke, the hospital said in a statement, citing circulatory and respiratory problems as causes of his death.
He was admitted to hospital on May 18 after suffering a stroke while attending the funeral of a high court judge who was shot dead by an alleged Islamist extremist gunman.
He had been a key figure in Turkish politics for half a century.
The former leader had served as prime minister of Turkey five separate times and is best known for ordering the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 following an abortive coup by the military government in Athens
The invasion of Cyprus led to the division of the Mediterranean island and resulted in 5000 deaths.
Ecevit was voted out of power in 2002 in part because of concerns over his failing health, leading to the rise of current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party.
The worst electoral defeat of his nearly 50-year political career was when he won just one percent of the vote - after voters held him responsible for a 2001 economic crisis that saw millions (m) of layoffs.
His career started as a staunchly left-wing leader but later became an American ally, a transformation that mirrored changes in his country, which has gone from a largely insular nation to one that is increasingly opening up to the West, but is not always comfortable with the changes.
Under Ecevit, Turkey was accepted as a candidate for membership in the European Union in 1999.
He supported US use of a Turkish air base for flights over northern Iraq and agreed to sell off key state companies to private investors.
Ecevit, who served five times as premier and was imprisoned following the 1980 military coup and served as prime minister during the 1999 capture of Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan.
A published poet and former journalist, Ecevit was born in Istanbul in May 1925 and was educated at an American high school in Istanbul where he met his wife Rahsan, who would become his closest aide and political ally.
Ecevit worked as a journalist in the 1950's with a newspaper close to the left-of-centre Republican People's Party and entered parliament with that party in 1957.
He quickly rose within the ranks of the party and took over the leadership in 1972, toppling Ismet Inonu, a one-time president and a national war hero.
Ecevit was in and out of power as premier four times during the years before the 1980 military coup, a time marred by a deep economic crisis and violent street clashes between leftists and right-wing militants.
Following the coup, Ecevit was imprisoned.
Making a comeback in the late 90's, Ecevit - then in his 70s - abandoned the strong nationalist rhetoric of his earlier years and backed Turkish moves toward a free-market economy, supported its bid to join the European Union and reconciled with the United States.
Pushed by the International Monetary Fund, he also embarked on an ambitious privatisation program, agreeing for example to the sale of the telecommunications monopoly, Turk Telekom, and Turkish Airlines.
He is survived by Rahsan. The couple did not have any children.
On Sunday Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer issued a statement praising Ecevit for his political ethics, manners and intellect, and for upholding Turkey's secular values.