Turkish FM marks Gallipoli anniversary with Australian, New Zealand visitors

Turkey’s foreign minister marked the 96th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign on Sunday with a ceremony that drew the attendance of international leaders.

“This battle, which claimed lives of our grandfathers, laid the foundation of sound friendly ties between Turks, Australians and New Zealanders,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said. “We think that Çanakkale [the site of the battles] was the place where the first heartbeats of the Republic of Turkey were heard. The modern Republic of Turkey rose from the ashes of an empire thanks to courage and determination of young soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend their country.”

Wreaths were laid at the Monument of Martyrs on behalf of Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, France, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

“Today, we have gathered here to remember the lessons we learned from the dark and painful days of the war. The Battle of Çanakkale and the ensuing War of Independence imbued the Turkish people [with the realization] that war is nothing but a homicide. Therefore, the Republic of Turkey was built on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s principle of ‘peace at home, peace in the world.’ Turkey has become an island of stability in one of the most instable regions of the world for 88 years,” he said.

Davutoglu also met with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully, as well as the Australian Cabinet member for veterans’ affairs, Warren Snowdon, during the ceremonies.

The Gallipoli Campaign took place on Çanakkale’s Gelibolu peninsula from April 1915 to January 1916 during World War I.

A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and secure a sea route to Russia. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or Anzacs, formed the backbone of a 200,000-man British-led army that landed at Gelibolu. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides. The campaign resonated profoundly among all nations involved.

Nearly 1 million soldiers fought in the trench warfare at Gallipoli. Some 55,000 allied soldiers died in the fighting, 10,000 were recorded as missing and 21,000 dead of disease. Turkish casualties were estimated at around 250,000.

The battle is considered a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people. The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Atatürk, himself a commander at Gallipoli.

Thousands turned out in Çanakkale to honour martyrs who died in the Çanakkale Battles

96 years have passed since the Çanakkale Ground Battles, where ANZAC forces were defeated.

But as a result of this war, a sense of national identity was forged in Australia and New Zealand, and a stronger bond of friendship was born between ANZAC members and Turks.

Grandchildren of ANZAC forces arrived in the bay in Çanakkale where the ANZAC forces made their landing on 25 April 1915.

They waited all night till dawn to attend the Dawn Service in the bay.

When the time for the Service arrived, they gratefully commemorated all soldiers who died in the battles.

Messages of peace were given at the ceremony, and Atatürk’s words commemorating the loss of thousands of lives were read out.

A moment of silence was observed and people laid wreaths at the monument.

The ceremony concluded after the playing of national anthems of Turkey, New Zealand and Australia.

(Hereunder Atatürk’s words:

“Those heroes who 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 your sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now living in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”).

Norwegian FM: “EU membership isn’t the only criteria for being European”

Being a member of the European Union isn’t the only identifier of being European, said Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store in Ankara yesterday. He made the remarks at a joint press conference after a meeting with State Minister and EU Talks Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis at the Secretariat General for EU Affairs.

That’s what Murat (an excellent commentator on the Hürriyet Daily News) wrote many months ago.

For his part, Bagis said that after Turkey reaches EU standards, much like Norway, a decision will be made on whether or not it will join the EU.

Airbus: Turkey will need 480 new planes by 2029

Turkey’s aviation industry will need 480 new planes over the next 18 years to support its rapid expansion, European aircraft maker Airbus said Tuesday, hoping to capture part of the market.

“By 2029, the traffic within, from and to Turkey will grow three times,” the company’s vice-president for Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Christopher Buckley, told a press conference in Istanbul.

The Turkish fleet is forecast to have grown from 235 to 528 by this time, which Buckley said implied the acquisition of 480 new planes to top up the existing fleet and replace old ones.

Boosted by strong economic growth of 8.9 percent in 2010, rising tourist numbers (28.5 million in 2010) and a geographic position favourable to playing a key role in the global industry, the Turkish aviation market has exploded in recent years.

After visa requirements lifted, Russian tourist numbers expected to swell to 4 million

Following the lifting of visa requirements between Turkey and Russia, the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey could swell to 4 million, predicted Russian Ambassador to Turkey Vladimir Ivanovskiy yesterday. “Last year 3 million Russian tourists visited Turkey,” said the ambassador in Samsun, visiting Governor Huseyin Aksoy. “Now with visa-free travel, we expect that number will rise to at least 4 million.” He added, “Under bilateral agreements signed by our President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we should raise our trade volume to the $100 billion level.”

Dutch scholar calls EU visa rules “illegal”

The European Union’s visa system for Turkish citizens is illegal, but there is still an unwillingness by politicians in EU member states to accept this and implement recent court rulings, according to a Netherlands-based academic. “We can certainly say the visa requirement [for Turkish citizens to enter EU member states] is illegal, but cannot be sure whether the border authorities will accept this,” said Piet Jan Slot, a law professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, at a press conference yesterday in Istanbul organized by the Economic Development Foundation (IKV).

Erdogan: “Discrimination against women is inhuman”

Speaking at a Turkish Metals Union congress, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday reached out to women who are oppressed, facing harassment, used as cheap labor, subjected to terrorism, or victims of outmoded patriarchal codes. Marking International Women’s Day, Erdogan said discrimination against women is inhuman, adding that Turkish traditions place women at the center of the household and social and economic life. In related news, a bill is in the works to stem the growing tide of murders of women across the nation. Fatma Sahin, head of the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) women’s branches, told news channel NTV yesterday that under the bill, anyone who threatens women with violence will be liable to punishment, whether they carry through on their threats or not. The bill is meant to ensure that threats are dealt with more urgently and practically and would also expand the authority of police officers.

Erdogan: “If mothers get educated, no doubt all children get educated”

Erdoğan said: “Mothers change, Anatolia changes, Thrace changes. If mothers gain awareness, the whole country gains awareness. If mothers get educated, no doubt all children get educated. We are waging as much struggle to change mothers’ lives as we are to change the lives of working women and to make them active in politics and economy.”

Bağış: the EU needs unanimous vote to end the talks with Turkey

Egemen Bağış challenged the anti-Turkey bloc to get the required unanimous vote to end the accession talks with Turkey.

State Minister and Head Negotiator Egemen Bağış challenged some EU countries, which are against Turkey’s EU membership, to convince all members’ of the Union to vote against Turkey, if they can.

British daily apologizes to Turkish PM Erdoğan

The Daily Telegraph has apologized to Turkey’s prime minister for a September story that claimed Iran had made substantial donations to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

In an article from Sept. 14, 2010, “We wrongly stated that Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan of Turkey had ‘improperly negotiated and accepted a donation in the sum of $25 million to his AKP from Iran to further the party’s campaign in a forthcoming general election,’” the British daily said.

“We now accept that we were misinformed and the allegation was untrue. Neither Prime Minister Erdoğan nor his party has negotiated any such deal or accepted any donation of any kind from Iran. We apologize to Prime Minister Erdoğan,” the daily said.

Erdoğan’s reaction to the story was furious; he called it “very contemptible slander” and told media representatives in Istanbul on Sept. 25 that he would take legal action.

Ahtisaari attended the alliance of civilisations meeting in Istanbul

“If Turkey does not become an EU member, the Alliance of Civilizations will be unsuccessful. If the EU was a Christian club I wouldn’t want to be a member of that group. Therefore, obstacles before the negotiation process with Turkey should be lifted as soon as possible” Ahtisaari said.

At the end of the meeting, Ahtisaari was presented a map of Europe drawn by Katip Çelebi nearly 400 years ago.

Sarkozy for 300 minutes

In the past, Sarkozy had rolled up his sleeves behind doors to remove six countries, including Turkey, from the G-20 but hit the buffers during the Pittsburgh Summit of the group.

To be honest, the visit was nothing but an excuse to patch-up French-Turkish relations that have suffered primarily because of Sarkozy’s attitude. As fresh proof, let me note that several French newspapers extensively recalled how the president was and still is against Turkey’s EU membership when they were covering the visit. Who is fooling whom in the end?

Sarkozy assumed his anti-Turkey approach long before he was elected president in place of President Jacques Chirac, who had a positive attitude toward Turkey’s EU bid. Sarkozy maintained his position during his presidential tenure and officially announced already in 2007 his intention to unilaterally veto five negotiation chapters with the EU because they are directly linked to full membership.

He has used Turkey’s EU bid as an election gimmick every time and has always kept combining hostility toward Turkey with hostility toward Islam. When he said last week that there should be no call to prayer in a secularist country, someone asked whether there could be any church bells. No answer was given.

Sarkozy always refrained from visiting Turkey. Although his mother’s side comes from Ottoman Salonica, the French leader has always hated voicing this.

Although there are more “beautiful days” ahead of the anti-Islam discourse in France, as well as elsewhere in Europe, it is not difficult to spot that the obsession and ignorance vis-à-vis Islam is a sign of ethical decline. The hopeless search for the so-called pure French or European identity, which doesn’t mean anything in reality (just like pure Turkish identity), is the best example of such decline. May God help them; what else we can say!

Turkey must play active role in countries in turmoil, Ahtisaari said

“[Turkey’s] past proves that not only do you have the capacity for identifying the problems [in troubled countries], you also can find solutions to them,” Ahtisaari said in a speech Friday after receiving an honorary degree from Istanbul University. “In the course of the last few weeks we have seen world history being made.”

The way Turkey is progressing creates preconditions for closer relations with the European Union, according to Ahtisaari, who said, “Most of these relations [must be strictly be kept] with the aim of membership, nothing less but membership.

Ahtisaari said he was convinced Turkey’s EU membership would be beneficial not only for Turkey but also for the European Union. “[Turkey’s] strategic geopolitical position is an obvious matter. Its gross contacts with its neighbors, broadly understood, would be an asset for the European Union.

Ahtisaari said it would be less than honest to say that all members of the EU are equally enthusiastic about Turkey’s joining the union in the near future, adding that there was still some work to be done and that the EU had to be as engaged as Turkey was in this matter.

Turkey to host the 4TH UN conference on LDC

Turkey will be assuming great responsbility for the next ten years in raising the living standards of the Least Developed Countries.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met the foreign ministers of the Least Developed Countries in India, ahead of the UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries to be held in May 2011 in İstanbul.

Davutoğlu, making an appeal to the world public, said “All peoples have the right to benefit from global wealth and prosperity. This is a liability falling on the shoulders of the whole of the international community.”

At the Least Developed Countries Summit Turkey will be given the mandate to organize the aids for the next ten years.

Turkey will be the responsible country along with the United Nations for combatting hunger, facilitating infrastructure works, economic development and maintaining political stability.

49 countries are included in the UN’s Least Developed Countries list. Three-year average of Gross National Income per capita is around $ 900 in these countries.

I’m proud to be Turkish.

Best regards,


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