REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR AHMET AKİF OKTAY AT THE RECEPTION HELD ON THE OCCASION OF THE TURKISH VICTORY DAY 30 August 2018
Representatives of the Hungarian Foreign and Defense Ministries,
I extend a warm welcome to all of you. Thank you for joining us today while we celebrate
one of the epoch-making events of modern Turkish history.
Today marks the 96th anniversary of the end of the defining battle of the Turkish War
of Liberation which was fought in the Anatolian heartland over five days in
1922. It started with the General Offensive launched on August 26th, and
culminated in the “Battle of the Commander-in-Chief” on August 30th. This final
victory came after a series of earlier ones achieved in the preceeding year, such
as the Battles of İnönü and Sakarya. On that fateful day, Turkish armies led by
Mustafa Kemal dealt a decisive blow to the invading Greek forces and began to
drive them back towards the Aegean Sea. By September 18th, entire Western
Anatolia was liberated from invaders.
İlber Ortaylı, the best-known living Turkish historian, writes the following in a
recent book on Atatürk: “the 26th of August, 1071, on which the Battle of
Manzikert was fought, marks the entry of the Turks into Anatolia, while the
26th of August, 1922, certified that they would never abandon it.” That victory
indeed proved to be a catalyst and a turning point in our history. It cemented
the Turks’ sense of nationhood and determination to defend their motherland to
such an extent that Allied Powers had no choice but to scrap the infamous
Sevres Treaty imposed upon the defeated Ottoman State and made a new peace with
the emerging Turkish Republic in Lausanne the next year.
The Turkish War of Liberation was waged against western powers. However, it was Atatürk’s goal
to ultimately anchor the fledgling republic within contemporary civilization. In
keeping with his vision, and starting with the League of Nations, Turkey eventually
joined almost all European or Western-led international organizations, such as the
Council of Europe, OECD and OSCE. European Union membership, despite current
difficulties, remains a strategic choice and an overarching foreign policy
objective for Turkey. Today old enemies are also friends and allies in NATO.
Together, we are responding to challenges of a different nature, such as combating
terrorism, defusing regional or internal conflicts, reversing global warming and
alleviating poverty and human suffering. In line with its enterprising and
humanitarian foreign policy, Turkey has been shouldering its fair share of global
responsibilities and will continue to do so.
We are pleased to be holding this celebration on the friendly soil of Hungary. The
two countries were comrades-in-arms during the First World War and made
sacrifices for each other’s survival. Today we are even closer allies who enjoy
excellent political relations. Our mutually beneficial economic cooperation is growing
stronger by the year. The reminders of our common history and cultural legacy
both in Hungary and Turkey are carefully preserved and cherished by both
nations. In short, we deeply value Hungary’s friendship and we are happy to
know that the feeling is mutual.
Day. I wish you all a pleasant and enjoyable evening.