STATEMENT BY HER EXCELLENCY AMBASSADOR DAMLA YEŞİM SAY ON THE OCCASION OF THE 92ND ANNIVERSARY OF THE PROCLAMATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY (29 October 2015, The Boatshed)
H.E. Brook Barrington, Chief Executive and Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand,
Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Her Worship Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington,
My Fellow Citizens,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you all to the ninety-second birthday festivities of the Republic of Turkey.
Hoşgeldiniz, Cumhuriyet Bayramımız kutlu olsun.
Let me thank sincerely to H.E. Brook Barrington, Chief Executive and Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand,
who is representing the New Zealand Government, for being with us today.
As I did in the past, I will start with paying tribute to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of our Republic and his comrades in-arms, our martyrs as well as everybody who worked hard in order to leave us this precious gift of modern Turkey.
The founding principles of the Republic which drastically transformed the entire fabric of our nation are still the main source of our inspiration and will continue to be so in the future. Our objective has remained the same since the establishment of the Republic: bringing Turkey to the highest level of modernization, preserving peace at home and in the world.
We however are going through times that test our nations’ peace, principles and patience. All of us observe with deep sorrow the disastrous effects of the Syrian Civil War. It has already claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and displaced millions from their homes and forced them to seek shelter elsewhere. So far 2.2 million Syrian people have fled to Turkey across a border as long as the distance between Auckland and Queenstown. Put together, they would have made up Turkey’s 4th largest city. 8 billion US Dollars has been spent so far for the Syrian people living in Turkey. Of this, only 5.2 per cent came from the international community.
As the Syrian tragedy has shown clearly, what we need is a collaborative action. Despite growing pessimism, we still believe in international cooperation to resolve this tragedy and many others waiting for our attention and compassion all around the world. We certainly will continue our efforts to provide a meaningful contribution for resolution of the problems in our region and beyond and expect from every responsible member of the international community do the same.
Once in a year, we, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, have the unique opportunity not only to celebrate our national days with our friends and our citizens, but also to report to them what we have done to further our relations.
2015 is a very special year as it marks the 100th anniversary of the Çanakkale Land Battles/Gallipoli Campaign, which cemented our unique friendship with New Zealand. Therefore, this year has been quite fast-paced and momentous for us. Allow me to share with you some of the highlights of the past 12 months.
Only a couple of weeks after I addressed you last year on this day, we had the first official visit by a Turkish Foreign Minister to New Zealand in over 20 years. The then Minister Mr Çavuşoğlu had comprehensive talks with Honourable Minister McCully was also received by His Excellency the Governor-General, the Right Honourable Lieutenant General Mateparae.
We had the pleasure to welcome the Minister of Veteran Affairs, Honourable Foss in Turkey three times, as well as the Minister of Trade, Honourable Groser this year only once.
We hosted the Right Honourable Prime Minister John Key in Turkey in April. He, along with other heads of state and government attended the Peace Summit organized to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Çanakkale Land Battles in İstanbul on 23 April, as well as the International Commemorations and Anzac Day Ceremonies in Çanakkale on 24 and 25 April. He was one of the keynote speakers at the Summit. After his bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey, H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu on 23 April, they announced the “Turkey-New Zealand Joint Declaration” which covers the most important issues in our mutual agenda and gives us guidance in furthering our bilateral relations for the coming years.
While I had the honour to represent Turkey during the ceremonies here in Wellington on Anzac Day, my staff attended the ceremonies in Napier, Masterton and Nelson.
His Excellency the Governor-General, the Right Honourable Lieutenant General Mateparae paid a state visit to Turkey in August. Our President H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament had very fruitful talks with Sir Jerry Mateparae in Ankara.
It was an exceptional privilege for me to accompany His Excellency during his visit to my country and particularly in Gallipoli on the 100th anniversary ceremonies of the Battle of Chunuk Bair on 8 August.
Deputy Head of Mission, Mr Aziz Sevi attended the commemorations here in Wellington and shared Atatürk’s own words on Battle of Chunuk Bair, who played a vital role in that battle too as the then commander of the Nineteenth Division of the Ottoman Fifth Army in Gallipoli.
In addition to the high-profile bilateral visits, we endeavoured to involve the larger public, and stressed the significance of the Gallipoli campaign to both our nations.
Çanakkale and Wellington cities agreed to establish historical sister-city relationship and the announcement was made by the Mayor of Wellington, Her Worship Celia Wade-Brown on Anzac Day. We are planning to hold a special signing ceremony to celebrate it.
The Governor of Çanakkale visited New Zealand in March. Following his high level meetings in Wellington, he officiated the inauguration of the brilliant bronze statue of Horace Moore-Jones, the iconic painter of the Anzac Corps, on 27 March in Hamilton. The statue sits on a massive granite base from Gallipoli, gifted by the Turkish Government.
When two far away nations such as Turkey and New Zealand have a shared history, symbolism carries huge weight to remember and respect those who have given their lives voluntarily for their nations.
That is why we brought not only that huge granite block for the people of Hamilton, but some pebbles to be shared with our Kiwi friends from the very beaches where Anzac troops first landed, so that they have a piece of memory of their forefathers who landed there 100 years ago and became our sons.
We launched a travelling photo exhibition titled “Çanakkale: The Road to Peace out of War”. A first in New Zealand, mostly telling the Turkish story of the Gallipoli Campaign; our side of the story is not too different, as the impact of war on every human soul is exactly the same. It is travelling so that the brave men and women who fought this epic war a hundred years ago could tell their stories to as many people as possible. You can see a few samples around you today. So far we have had the opportunity to exhibit these photographs in Otaki, Christchurch, Lower Hutt and Wellington. Auckland War Memorial Museum is housing the exhibition now. Next year Waikato Museum will display them.
This year the biggest project that we want to complete is the Turkish memorial at the Pukeahu War Memorial Park. We are grateful to the New Zealand Government for allocating us a prestigious location at the Park.
As you see, our bilateral relations with New Zealand are flourishing with enthusiasm and hard work. In every field, be it economic, political or cultural there is a considerable progress. In that sense 2015 has been a special year for Turkey and New Zealand. The ceremonies and other events organized in Turkey and New Zealand to commemorate the 100th Anniversary not only for Anzac Day but the whole year round, provided a very good opportunity to underline and cherish the unique nature of our friendship once again.
May I ask you now to join me in a toast to the personal health and happiness of Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, 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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