Message of the President on the occasion of the 99th commemorations of the Battles of Çanakkale (International Day)

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Honorable Governor General,

Distinguished Ministers,

Dear Guests,

I would like to greet you with my sincerest feelings, the distinguished representatives from the countries who left their sons in Çanakkale, one of the most important fronts in the First World War. I welcome you all.

As you would appreciate, defending the homeland is sacred in every religion and culture. In this sense, the Battle of Çanakkale is an epoch of greatest bravery and heroism for our nation. The struggle of our sons coming from the four corners of the homeland who made the ultimate sacrifice is engraved in golden letters.

However, Çanakkale is also a memorial of mourning. Indeed, the Turkish nation won this battle but lost the World War I.

It’s this meaning that Çanakkale represents.

However, as it does for our country, Çanakkale has a particular meaning for the countries that sent their sons to these lands.

Young men at their prime age, sent by their parents from overseas, displayed supreme acts of heroism and humanity just like their battlefield adversaries. They did not hesitate to shoulder their wounded opponents and carry them to medical remedy. At hours of most difficulty, bread and water were constantly shared across the trenches.

The following message by Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, which was originally addressed to the Anzac mothers in 1934, appeals us equally all. Capturing the general mood of the era, he said:

“Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives,

You are now in the soil of a friendly nation. Rest in peace. You are lying side by side with the Mehmets (Turkish soldiers) of this country.

Mothers who sent their sons from overseas,

Wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosoms and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land makes them our sons as well.”

We happily witness that the Battle of Çanakkale, the 99th anniversary of which we are now commemorating, is the most concrete symbol of this long lasting friendship.

This is exactly the reason why Çanakkale stands a beacon of strong friendship after a painful history. This is because it was a war with no apparent losers. Even though one party seemed to be victorious, friendship and peace has been everyone’s gain.

The most important message conveyed from Çanakkale to the present day which is also reflected in the UN Charter is that peace, and not war is essential. Atatürk underscored this view by saying, “unless a nation’s life is in peril, war is murder.”

It is now incumbent upon us to act in a spirit of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation in order to help lasting peace prevail in the world.

We gather here every now and then at this time of the year with this spirit. On the one hand, we are commemorating our heroes who lost their lives in the war. On the other, we are enlarging and solidifying the friendship and partnership they built by blood and sweat.

We consider this an excellent example of the wisdom to “prepare a future with peace, friendship and affection to new generations by leaving the sorrows of the past behind.”

I hope this solid message of peace and friendship spreads in waves, instilling hope in people and setting an example to everyone.

It is with these feelings and thoughts that I respectfully bow before the noble memory of our heroes from different nations who are laid to their eternal rest side by side in the same land.

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