Fahir İlkel’s ministry story in the words of Vehbi Koç
On December 15, 1981, Prime Minister Bülent Ulusu called me at home in Yeniköy to ask how I was. Then he said, “I want to know how you feel about something—I ‘d like to know your wishes and if you’ll agree. I want to go into collaboration with one of your managers, Fahir İlkel. What do you think?” I replied, “He’s a valuable and earnest friend. We’ve been working together for 12 years, I think. He’s still in Germany. He’ll be back in a couple of days. I’m ready to accept any orders from you that are for the good of the country. I just want to express this one concern: I started working at the time of Atatürk and I’ve lived through various periods. I and my company were never exposed to the tiniest bit of gossip. The [current] atmosphere is really bad. I’m worried that people will accuse me of influencing the army. They’ll say one of Koç’s managers is a minister and he made sure this and that was done. The matter concerns both me and you. Besides, whether Fahir İlkel will accept the job you’ve allocated, is completely up to him.”
The prime minister replied, “The President said he didn’t have any objection to it. You people have a lot of experience in the private sector, and can be of great service. The President is coming to my office at 12 pm today for a meeting. I’ll pass on your views on all this. But regardless of whether Mr. İlkel accepts or not, he should come to Ankara when he gets back from Europe. I want to talk to him.”
When Mr. İlkel came back from Germany, I wrote to him saying, “If you accept the offer they make you when you go to Ankara, it’s going to last until the army restores civilian power. According to my estimation, that will be at most one and a half years.”
Mr. İlkel went to Ankara. He accepted the job of Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and began working there. Following that, we held a meeting at the Holding on December 21, 1981 and proposed that Yüksel Pulat took over Fahir İlkel’s duties. Mr. Pulat accepted and set to work. A circular was sent round the organization informing everyone of the situation.
Mr. İlkel resigned from our executive boards... due to his new position.
On November 6, 1983, there was a general election and the Ulusu Government stepped down. Fahir İlkel returned to his duties.
Vehbi Koç, Hatıralarım Görüşlerim Öğütlerim (Recollections, Observations, Counsel), Vehbi Koç Vakfı Yayınları, İstanbul, 1987, p. 63-64