REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR AHMET AKIF OKTAY AT THE CEREMONY HELD ON THE OCCASION OF THE 18th MARCH MARTYRS REMEMBRANCE DAY AND THE 104th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ÇANAKKALE NAVAL BATTLES TURKISH MARTYRS’ CEMETERY, BUDAPEST, 18 MARCH 2019 (Unofficial Translation)
Your Excellency, Mr. State Secretary,
Distinguished Representatives of the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs and Trade,
Esteemed Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
My Dear Compatriots,
104 years ago on this day, the Turkish army inflicted a heavy defeat on the joint armada of the Entente Powers trying to enter the Çanakkale Strait, one of the critical battlefronts of the First World War, and forced it to retreat.
The successful military tactics and strategies implemented by the Turkish forces, as well as the bravery and determination they displayed in these campaigns, have become a legend. The Çanakkale Battles, in which the military genius of Ghazi Mustafa Kemal was also certified, constitute a glorious chapter of Turkish history.
On the other hand, this chapter was written with sacrifice and blood. During the First World War, hundreds of thousands of Turkish soldiers became martyrs, including those who died in the Çanakkale Naval and Land Battles. We also lost tens of thousands more in the course of our War of Liberation that followed the Great War.
During the First World War, Turkish soldiers fought not only in Çanakkale, but across many fronts extending from the Arabian Peninsula to the Balkans, from the Middle East to the Caucasus. One of those was the Galicia Front, which claimed the lives of more than 12 thousand soldiers, and which lends its name to this cemetery.
Out of that number, 480 soldiers are buried here. However, thousands more soldiers lie in more than eighty such cemeteries in nearly forty countries.
Modern Turkey owes its existence to the struggle waged by that noble and self-sacrificing generation through all kinds of hardship, privation and pain, and through willingly giving their lives for their country. The Turkish nation is deeply conscious of this fact. That is why our martrys will live on in the hearts and minds of our people forever.
On this meaningful day, we once again pay our respects to, and bow before, all our martyrs who are buried in the soil of Turkey, of our friend and ally Hungary, and of other countries.
With everything in our power, we will protect and defend the homeland they bequeathed to us. This is a duty which we owe both to them and to the coming generations, a duty which we will carry on under all circumstances and as long as the world exists.
With these thoughts, I wish Allah’s mercy upon our martyrs. May they rest in peace.
Before concluding, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Hungarian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces for their very valuable contribution to the realization of this event, as has been the case in previous years. I would also like to thank State Secretary Tamás Vargha for kindly attending this ceremony on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Last but not least, I thank all of our esteemed guests present here today for honoring us with their participation in this solemn ceremony.
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