Damla Yeşim Say 29.10.2014
(29 October 2014, The Boatshed 18:15)

Kia Ora, Good evening, İyi akşamlar,
Honourable Ministers
Esteemed Members of the Parliament,
Her Excellency High Commissioner of Canada, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners, distinguished members of the diplomatic community,
My fellow citizens,
Friends of Turkey,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

(Before I start my statement, may I ask you to join me in praying for the success of the relentless work to rescue 18 Turkish miners who are trapped in a coal mine in Ermenek. Our hearts and considerations are with them and their families.)

It is my distinct privilege to welcome you all today, as we celebrate with great pride the ninety-first anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. Hoşgeldiniz, Cumhuriyet Bayramımız kutlu olsun.

Let me first express my gratitude to the Honourable Craig Foss, Minister of Veteran Affairs, Statistics and Small Business, Associate Minister of Immigration and Transport, for being with us today as the representative of the New Zealand Government.

While acknowledging all our friends wholeheartedly, I particularly thank to His Excellency Sir Anand Satyanand, former Governor General of New Zealand and to the honourable Ministers; Michael Woodhouse and Nicky Wagner and the distinguished members of the Parliament as well as former members of the Parliament for joining us to celebrate our national day.

At the outset I wish to convey our sincere congratulations to the Government and the people of New Zealand for the successful conclusion of the last month’s general elections and for securing one of the non-permanent seats at the United Nations Security Council.

Distinguished Guests,

On this special day, I will start by paying tribute to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of our Republic. An exceptional officer... A great statesman… A peacemaker who said that “unless a nation faces lethal peril, war is murder”… An enemy perhaps of your grandfathers atop Chunuk Bair, who would consider them as his own sons…

Much remains to be said about how alienating the experience of war could be, but luckily for us Turks and New Zealanders, the war brought us closer to see that we are not that different from each other, as we stood up for our individual identities and for principles.

We will start commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Çanakkale Battles very soon. These battles on Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 gave way to sentiments of unique friendship between opposite ends of the world.

Our unique ties with New Zealand is demonstrated every 25 April at the Anzac Cove, the very spot where the ANZAC troops made their first landing in 1915, and the hills and cliffs where our grandfathers fought; where we take pride every year in hosting you, the grandchildren of our fallen sons in Gallipoli.

It is demonstrated every Anzac Day at the Atatürk Memorial at Tarakena Bay in Wellington, with its dramatic landscape and striking resemblance to Gallipoli. It will certainly be demonstrated in a very special way next year as we commemorate the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign.

Distinguished Guests,

Turkey’s foreign policy is guided by the principle of “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” as set out by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. We will resolutely continue our efforts regionally and internationally according to this principle which will not only guarantee our national interests but will help achieve the common goals of humanity.

We however are living through times that test our nations’ peace, principles and patience. There are more than 1.6 million Syrians in Turkey, who have fled persecution by the brutal regime in Damascus and the civil war over the past three years. That’s more than the population of Auckland. Turkey spent more than 4 billion US dollars so far, almost the annual GDP of some countries, to help our Syrian guests. We built whole cities and equipped them, down to vocational education centres and childcare facilities.

It is not by chance that we have become one of the largest ODA providers in the world. As an important part of our foreign policy, we certainly will continue to lend our helping hand to those who are in need.

Even though the political developments in our region require our utmost attention, we have not forgotten our friends in the Pacific. The Pacific region maintains its critical importance on our agenda. Earlier this year, Turkey was admitted as a “Post-Forum Dialogue Partner” to the Pacific Islands Forum. We will establish our first embassy in the Pacific very soon. We are looking forward to continuing our close cooperation with the countries in the region. As the non-resident ambassador to 5 Pacific Island countries, I am very pleased to see that our relations have been developing rapidly and on a right track with the Pacific SIDS.

Distinguished Guests,

This year has been a very rewarding one for us, particularly in terms of our bilateral relations.

His Excellency the Governor-General Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, who has deep personal connections to the Gallipoli Campaign, as well as the Immigration Minister Honourable Michael Woodhouse, paid an official visit to Turkey last April. I had the distinct privilege to accompany them in Ankara and Çanakkale.

In addition to His Excellency’s state visit, we were also pleased to host the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable McCully in Turkey.

We had a very fruitful political consultations between the two Foreign Ministries last June in Ankara.

Trade Ministers of Turkey and New Zealand also met in July in Sydney and instructed us to start working on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. NZTE has recently opened an Office in İstanbul.

We are now looking forward to showing our Foreign Minister Excellency Mr Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu this beautiful country when he arrives for a bilateral visit in a couple of weeks. This will give us a chance to comprehensively review our bilateral relations.

Our Minister of National Education will also visit Wellington to co-chair the Tenth Session of the Turkey-New Zealand Joint Economic Commission together with the Trade Minister Honourable Tim Groser in December.

We are very much looking forward to hosting the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Key and his high level delegation next year in Turkey for Anzac Day services in Gallipoli as well as the Turkish-led international commemorations that will be held a day prior.

As you see, our colleagues at MFAT and we at the Embassy have our plates getting full. We certainly are determined more than ever to make sure we keep nourishing the deep rooted and unique friendship between Turkey and New Zealand.

I want to tell you more on our shared history and the current state of our relations, for I have a lot to talk about. But I do not want to test your patience,- perhaps I have already done that- and end my statement by sharing a cultural tradition of friendship we have in Turkey. Just like New Zealanders, Turks are very fond of their coffee. We always say “'drinking one cup of Turkish coffee with a friend will not be forgotten for 40 years”. We have with us today the New Zealand representative of the well-known Turkish company “Beko”, which manufactures, among other white goods, Turkish coffee machines for household use and recently opened a show room in Auckland. I invite you to try and enjoy Turkish coffee, and remember our friendship for at least 40 more years.

Distinguished Guests,

May I ask you now to join me in a toast to the personal health and happiness of Her Majesty Elizabeth the II, Queen of New Zealand and to the well-being and the prosperity of people of New Zealand as well as to the excellent Turkish-New Zealand friendship and cooperation.

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