Ambassador Haluk Agca's Speech at the Commemoration Ceremony of ANZAC Day
ASDELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY DURING THE COMMEMORATION CEREMONY ORGANIZED BY THE PEACE-KEEPERS OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND ON THE OCCASSION OF 100 TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GALLIPOLI SEA AND LAND BATTLES AT THE TOMPING BASE OF THE UNITED NATIONS MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN (UNMISS) ON 25 APRIL 2015 AT 11:00 HOURS
Mr. Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations,
Distinguished Members of UNMISS,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today we are all here to pay tribute to the memory of those who have served their countries with pride, dedication and ultimate sacrifice in Gallipoli Sea and Land Battles 100 years ago.
During the battles, a restrained fraternization took place between the Turks and the ANZACs who had never been in contact with each other before the war.
The Gallipoli Campaign forged a special relationship between the Turks and Anzac nations out of the tragic events of the First World War. This relationship has become a testament to how an adversarial event can be transformed into a point of positive cultural exchange between two very different countries and cultures.
For the Australians, and the New Zealanders, the Gallipoli campaign was one of the most defining events in their histories and played an important role in forging their national identities, now referred to as the ANZAC Spirit.
For the Turks, the battle is a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people—a final surge in the defense of the motherland as the centuries-old Ottoman Empire was crumbling. It was the battle ground where the national hero of the Turks, namely, Atatürk was born once again. Consequently, the struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic under Atatürk, himself a commander at Gallipoli.
Today, Gallipoli’s anniversary is commemorated every year on the 24th and 25th of April, with dawn ceremonies in all of the combatant countries. In Gallipoli itself, thousands of the Australians and the New Zealanders visit to meet with their Turkish counterparts and to pay tribute to the common experience and bond of war that has since turned into a friendship. Gallipoli Sea and Land Battles showed that how such an event can serve as an example for others in overcoming difficult historical legacies and promoting cultural understanding.
Let me conclude my remarks by repeating Atatürk’s words addressed to the ANZAC mothers in 1934:
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours ... You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
May they all rest in peace!
Thank you for your attention.
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