REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR AHMET AKİF OKTAY DELIVERED AT THE CEREMONY HELD ON THE OCCASION OF THE 18th MARCH MARTYRS’ REMEMBRANCE DAY AND THE 103rd ANNIVERSARY OF THE ÇANAKKALE NAVAL BATTLES Turkish Martyrs’ Cemetery, Budapest, 19 March 2018
Distinguished Representatives of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Hungary,
Esteemed Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Dear Citizens and Guests,
Today we are gathered here to observe the 103rd Anniversary of the Çanakkale Naval Battles of 1915, one of the greatest epics of heroism in Turkish history, and the Martyrs’ Remembrance Day.
103 years ago, tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers sacrificed their lives at Çanakkale, one of the most critical fronts of the First World War, in defense of their motherland. The Çanakkale Naval Battles which resulted in the victory of the Turkish forces on 18 March 1915 constitute a turning point in our history. This victory and other successes achieved in the Çanakkale Land Battles under the leadership of Gazi Mustafa Kemal demonstrated to the world that the Turks were firmly determined to preserve their independence and protect their motherland. The legendary defense put up at Çanakkale proved to be a major milestone along the path that eventually led to the establishment of the Turkish Republic.
Thousands of Turkish soldiers also achieved martyrdom in the battles of Galicia, another major front of the First World War, in 1916 and 1917. Of those heroes, 480 now lie in peace at this very cemetery on the friendly soil of Hungary, which was then, and is now, an ally of Turkey.
On this solemn occasion, we honor with gratitude all our martyrs lying here, in Çanakkale and in many other countries across Europe, Africa and Asia. We bow our heads in their memory with profound respect. May their souls rest in peace.
They will live on in our hearts, our minds and our thoughts, wherever they may be in the world. We will continue to protect and glorify our motherland which they defended with their lives and bequeathed to us, and deliver her to future generations as a country which is even stronger in every field.
Before I conclude, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Hungarian Defence Ministry, as well as the Hungarian Armed Forces, for their valuable support and contributions to the realization of this ceremony.
I would also like to express my warmest thanks to all our guests present here today, for attending this event and honoring us with their presence on this very special and meaningful day.