Egemen Bağış was born in Bingöl, Turkey in 1970. His family originates from the neighboring province of Siirt, where he started his elementary school education.
He continued his primary and secondary school education in Ankara and graduated from Newtown High School in New York, USA. He went on to study at the Bernard M. Baruch College of City University of New York, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Human Resources Management (1993) and a Master of Public Administration degree (1996).
Civil Society Management Experience in USA
In 1995, Bağış founded the translation agency, The Turkish Link. As a linguist, he worked side by side with very influential political figures including Bill Clinton, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Süleyman Demirel, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell. Following his lifelong passion for service while maintaining his entrepreneurial calling, Bağış simultaneously scaled NGOs. During this period, he served as a board member in a number of civil society organizations and provided strategic advisory services to many public and private institutions rooted in politics, economics, language, culture and society.
Key Figure in Diplomacy
Bağış returned to Turkey in 2002 when he was invited by the Founder and Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to play a strategic role in developing the party. Upon his arrival, Bağış was elected a member of Turkish Parliament representing Istanbul and served as Chief Advisor of the AK Party Chairman and Prime Minister Erdoğan with a focus in international relations. In 2007, he was elected to Parliament for a second term and served as AK Party’s Vice Chairman responsible for international relations. In this period of time, he also served as a member of the Central Executive Board, the highest executive branch within the party. In 2009, he served in the Council of Ministers as a State Minister and the Chief Negotiator and rose to prominence as a key figure in diplomacy during his term.
In 2011, Mr. Bağış was elected to Parliament for his third term and served as founder and Turkey’s very first Minister of European Union Affairs and the Chief Negotiator in the new government established following the general elections in June. In this period, he was responsible of executing Turkey’s full membership negotiations with the European Union.
During his tenure as Minister and time in Parliament, he also had a key role in coordinating and directing AK Party’s international policies as well as national and international branches and offices while facilitating the diversification and efficacy of Turkey’s foreign policy. In this time period when Turkey–European Union relations were at its peak with great momentum, Mr. Bağış’s efforts in the international level not only positively impacted Turkey’s external relations, but also improved its internal relations. Constitutional and legislative amendments proposed during Turkey’s harmonization process with the European Union made fundamental contributions to the nation’s development as a liberal democracy.
In addition to these aforementioned duties, Mr. Bağış served as a member in AK Party’s Central Decision and Executive Board, the President of the Turkey-USA Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Caucus and the President of the Transatlantic Committee for the NATO Parliamentarians Assembly.
Arts and Science
Egemen Bağış has had a keen interest in the arts since his youth, and has been an active patron of national and international art. He has played a significant role in bringing 2010 European Capital of Culture and 2012 European Capital of Sport awards to his election district, Istanbul in his capacity as President of the Advisory Board for both projects. Bağış also played a prominent role in the establishments of the Istanbul Modern and Santral Istanbul Silahtarağa museums. Bağış continues to sit on the Board of Directors of Istanbul Modern and, as Founder, serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Board of a think tank named Platform for Global Challenges. In 2010, Bağış was elected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Bağış has had several academic works published in academic journals as well as many articles printed in national and international newspapers. The Italian government awarded Bağış with the Order of Merit of “Cavaliere” in 2006 and “Commendatore” in 2011. Bağış has received awards from many organizations as well as an honorary doctorate degree from Girne American University for his involvement in global projects with a social focus.
Currently, Egemen Bağış has built a successful career as an international Strategic Consultant. He is married to entrepreneur Beyhan N. Bağış and the couple enjoy living in Istanbul with their two children.