Remarks By Ambassador O. Koray Ertaş On The Occasion Of Martyrs Day
Bucharest Turkish Cemetery, March 18, 2016
Honorable Generals, Dear Colleagues,
Distinguished Members of the Turkish - Tatar Community,
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It has been more than a century that the history marked the Galipoli Battles during World War I. On March 18, 1915, Çanakkale Naval Victory changed the tide of history not only for modern Turkey but also in Europe and beyond.
While we solemnly commemorate the victory, we never forget that war means tragedy for all. During Galipoli campaign, although being on the winning side, a quarter million fellow countrymen and women lost their lives. We also remember the great losses endured by other warring parties, notably the Australians and New Zealanders, who lost their lives thousands of kilometers away from their homelands.
We are proud of being able to derive a formidable friendship from this tragedy, largely thanks to the visionary leaders of the time, notably Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, our great founding father. Indeed, in 1934 Atatürk wrote the following tribute to the Anzacs who fell at Gallipoli:
“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 now 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.”
The same spirit also dominates our strong relations with Romania and Romanian people. Our long shared history did not make us foes, but friends, allies, and strategic partners. Today, I should reiterate our gratitude to our Romanian friends for allowing us to honor the memory of our martyrs in 3 different cemeteries across the country.
In Turkey, we celebrate March 18 to honor all our martyrs, who lost their lives while on duty. It is unfortunate that this year witnesses a dramatic increase in terrorist attacks against our nation. Regardless of its roots and manifestations, terrorism is one of the biggest threat to humanity. Terrorist attacks against civilians, women and children will not deter our fight. Our nation will win over those coward groups who target our unity, progress and modern values. I thank our Romanian friends who show solidarity with the Turkish nation during these testing times.
As a member of the Turkish Foreign Service, I should also honor the memory of Turkish diplomats who lost their lives in ASALA’s terrorist attacks.
As a nation who is proud of its history, its heroes and heroines, we will protect the legacy of our martyrs with an unshakable determination and carry our country to a brighter future.
Let me honor once again the memory of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, all our heroes and martyrs with utmost respect and gratitude. May Allah bestow his vast blessing onto all.