President Abdullah Gül along with First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül paid a domestic visit to the province of Kilis. Welcomed with great enthusiasm and cheers by citizens in front of the Governorate, President Gül, during his address to the citizens, pointed to the great hospitality they show to the Syrian refugees in the city and said “history will record this nobility of yours!” The President also addressed citizens at Cumhuriyet (Republic) Square and met with war veterans and families of martyrs at lunch after his visit to the City Hall. He further met with Syrian refugees at the Elbeyli camp and visited the Gendarmerie Command and Kilis 7 Aralık University.

President Abdullah Gül along with First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül paid a domestic visit to the province of Kilis.

The Presidential Couple, upon their arrival at Gaziantep Airport, were welcomed by Governor Erdal Ata; Garrison Commander Gen. Kahraman Güneş; Mayor Asım Güzelbey and other officials.


The First Couple afterwards proceeded to the province of Kilis and enjoyed great enthusiasm from citizens when they arrived at the Governorate, where they were welcomed by Governor Süleyman Tapsız; MPs; Garrison Commander Gendarmerie Colonel Necmi İnce; Mayor Abdi Bulut; Chief Constable Mehmet Akpınar and other officials.

Evincing his pleasure to pay the first Presidential visit to Kilis since it was made a province in 1995, President Gül, during his address, pointed to the great hospitality and nobility the people of Kilis show the Syrian refugees, whose number, he said, is almost the same as the population of the city itself. “Your hospitality reminds me of the amity between the Ansar and Muhajirun.” [The Ansar (helpers) were those in Medina and the Muhajirun (migrants) were the Meccans, who migrated to Medina during the Hijrah (migration) of the Prophet Muhammed.]

The President further extended his thanks and gratitude to the people of Kilis on behalf of all the citizens of the Republic of Turkey. This quintessential nobility, he said, will be written in golden letters in history, noting that Kilis was on the historical Silk Road. President Gül said the trade, social and cultural life has always been vibrant in the provinces of Gaziantep, Kilis and Aleppo.


The President later proceeded to the Governor’s office and was informed about the activities and concerns of the city. President Gül, expressing his happiness at observing the great interest of the citizens wherever he visited in the country, underscored the quintessential nobility and hospitality the people of Kilis show for the Syrian refugees. “Since Syria is aflame, these people had to abandon their own homeland and took refuge in Turkey. I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to the people of Kilis for their examplary hospitality, nobility and magnanimity they have for these refugees. This hospitality is similar to the amity between the Ansar and Muhajirun.”


President Gül, as part of his program in the city, addressed the citizens at Cumhuriyet Square, where he was welcomed by the taekwondo players belonging to the Provincial Sports Directorate. The President, during his speech, pointed to the historical importance of Kilis, which, he said, has raised great figures throughout its history. The people of Kilis, he continued, have opened their homes to the Syrian refugees and embraced them all, which he declared demonstrated how noble the people of Kilis are. “The raison detre is to serve citizens. You are loyal to the state and have made great sacrifices for our republic. Kilis proved its gallantry and fidelity during the Independence War when its people demonstrated brave struggles under the commandership of Colonel Polat Bey on December 7, 1921, thus writing one of the most glorious pages of our Independence War.”

The President further reiterated that as long as there are peace, stability and security in a country and as long as the people have respect, love and affection for each other, there is nothing they cannot accomplish. “Turkey is achieving great things. The different views and political approaches you have demonstrate the pluralistic democracy we enjoy. We will continue to work hand in hand for the good of our country.”

President Gül, before leaving the square, watched a folk dance performance by the Şahinbey Municipality Folk Dances Group and had a memoir photo taken with them.


President Gül later visited the City Hall, where he underlined the significance of the visionary approach of mayors for the future of the cities they serve. The President also reiterated the importance of the historic structures and legacies in cities and preserving them for the next generations. Mayor Abdi Bulut informed the President that his office would establish a forest and name it Abdullah Gül Forest.


Afterwards, the Presidential Couple visited the Eski Hamam, which was renovated in 2009.


President Gül and First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül explored the handmade objects and embroideries displayed at the Multi-Purpose Community Center (ÇATOM) and they also tasted katmer (pastry) and the traditional menengiç (terebinth) coffee and examined a quilt decorated with the Turkish flag.


The First Couple afterwards met with leading citizens, war veterans, families of martyrs, NGO representatives and business leaders during lunch.

President Gül, during his speech, referred to December 7, when Kilis will mark the 92nd anniversary of its independence, and he remembered martyrs and veterans with gratitude and respect. The organized industry area will vitalize the economy of the whole region, predicted the President, accentuating the construction of the tunnel and the road that will connect Kilis to Hatay. He further stressed the cruciality of democracy, plurality, respect, stability, security and peace.


The Presidential Couple were welcomed by the Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) President Fuat Okay and other officials upon their arrival at the Elbeyli camp.

The President there addressed the Syrian refugees staying at the camp, saying: “We are two different states belonging to the same geography, so we are supposed to listen to each other’s concerns and to protect and embrace one another whenever it is necessary, because a real and sincere friendship is seen during difficult times. Your Turkish brothers are feeling your sorrow and anguish in their hearts.”

Underscoring that the Syrian administration used tanks, cannons and missilies against the people when they demanded to lead a happier and more honorable life, President Gül noted: “You have gone through and are experiencing sorrows. Alas, we are witnessing unbearable massacres in Syria, which will be remembered with shame. No one wishes to leave their homelands. You are all our guests here. The people of Kilis have opened their doors to you all. This is an example of the amity which was seen between the Ansar and the Muhajirun in Islamic history. We are happy to be a nation that embraces its Syrian brothers and sisters. If you remember this magnanimity of your Turkish siblings when you return to your homeland after the current crisis is over, you will contribute to the existing friendship between the two peoples.”


Afterwards, the First Couple, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin, Governor Süleyman Tapsız, Mayor Abdi Bulut and AFAD officials visited the hospital at the camp and met with children staying at the nursery school.

Children welcomed the Presidential Couple in Turkish greeting “Merhaba, hoş geldiniz” at the nursery school, where 440 Syrian children are staying. The First Couple asked them in return how they were in Arabic. Afterwards, the children sang songs in both languages and a girl read the Turkish National Anthem in Turkish. Minister Şahin informed the President that Syrian women receive vocational lessons at the camp as well. President Gül and the First Lady later had a memoir photo taken with the children.


President Gül afterwards visited the Gendarmerie Command, where Commander Col. Necmi İnce welcomed him with the escort of honor. The President later signed the Book of Honor, planted a sapling in the garden of the command and was seen off with the escort of honor.


The First Couple were welcomed by Rector Prof. Dr. İsmail Güvenç and other officials upon his arrival at the university, where he signed the Guest Book. Rector Güvenç later informed the President about 7 Aralık University and its activities.


First Lady Opens Multi-Purpose Community Center in Kilis

Accompanying President Gül on his domestic visit to the province of Kilis, First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül opened the Multi-Purpose Cummunity Center (ÇATOM), where she watched a folk dance performance by children. The First Lady, after being informed about the activities of the center, had a memoir photo taken with the children.

Mrs. Gül, as part of her program in Kilis, paid a visit to the Multi-Purpose Community Center (ÇATOM), where women learn the knowledge necessary for daily life, carry out some cultural activities and enhance their skills.

Welcomed by Deputy Chairman Mehmet Açıkgöz of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) Administration of Regional Development; GAP Coordinator Adalet Budak and ÇATOM Director Nimet Taş upon her arrival at ÇATOM, the First Lady was given flowers by children.


Mrs. Gülafterwards, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of ÇATOM. An earthenware jug with sugar in it was broken as a local traditon for success and blessing. The First Lady later enjoyed a folk poem written for her and watched a folk dance performance by children; she also had a memoir photo taken with these children.

Mrs. Gül then explored the classrooms, where Syrian refugee women receive education, textile, marbling and hand embroidery workshops. A Syrian woman gave a handmade rosary (tesbih) to the First Lady as a gift during Mrs. Gül’s visit to the center. She also chatted with the Syrian refugee women at the center and had a memoir photo taken with them.