Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu did not mention about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the commander of the 19th Division which played a vital role in the Gallipoli Campaign
Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu did not mention about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the commander of the 19th Division which played a vital role in the victory of Çanakkale.
PM Ahmet Davutoglu made a speech emphasizing the importance of the Çanakkale victory in front of the monument of Çanakkale martyrs without mentioning the architect of the victory, Mustafa Kemal, the founder of secular Turkey who was a 34-year-old lieutenant colonel leading the 19th Division at that time.
"We are indeed commemorating all the martyrs who died for this country, not only those who died in Canakkale," the Turkish premier said.
Canakkale is an "epic," Davutoglu stressed, saying a new nation was born from the ashes of a falling empire.
His remarks came on March 18, the 100th anniversary of Canakkale Victory Day -- the battle which marked a turnaround in favor of the Turks against the Allied Forces during World War I.
"It [the Battle of Canakkale] has shown that there is nothing stronger than a nation ready to die for their homeland and that it is impossible to capture such a nation," he said.
He added that had it not been for the victory in Canakkale, there would be no Turkey today.
The Turkish PM promised to make every effort in order to preserve the spirit of Canakkale, which he said would ensure national unity and everlasting brotherhood of all the ethnicities and cultures living in Turkey.
Having called on all the nations to leave behind the feelings of hatred, malice, and revenge, Davutoglu said Turkey would give a message of peace on April 24-25, which is marked as Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who fought and died on Turkish soil.
Speaking during the ceremony on the behalf of the Turkish Armed Forces, Brigadier General Ismail Gurgen said: "Today we are marking a victory which has an exceptional place in Turkish battle history."
Gurgen added: "The Turkish achievement paved the way for the War of Independence which led to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey."
The events leading up to the momentous battle started in February 1915, when Britain and France decided to launch the campaign, in order to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war as quickly as possible by reaching and capturing its capital, Istanbul.
They started their attack on March 18, but the waters were filled with a network of mines laid by Ottoman vessels.
Victory against the allied forces gave Turkey a massive moral boost, which enabled it to wage a war of independence and to eventually form a republic in 1923 from the ashes of the old empire.
Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, as well as Education Minister Nabi Avci and Youth and Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic were also present at today's ceremony.
Following the speeches, the Turkish Stars – the national aerobatics team of the Turkish Air Force – flew in formation while ships, most of which are Turkish manufactured, sailed behind one another.