Sep 26, 2008, 6:51 AM
This day marked the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. After Turkey’s victory in the War of Independence (1919-1923), the Turkish parliament proclaimed the new Turkish state as a republic.
A new constitution, which the parliament adopted on October 29, 1923, replaced the constitution of the Ottoman Empire.
The leader in the Turkish War of Independence, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, became the country’s first president on the same day.
According to Atatürk, Republic Day is Turkey’s most important holiday.
Speaking at the ceremony, the new Turkish ambassador to The Gambia, Ergin Soner, said the Republic of Turkey was founded on 29th October 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
He described Ataturk as a nation builder and a great reformer, whose vision has become a source of inspiration not only for the Turkish people, but also for nations,which were following in the footsteps of Turkey in their march towards independence and the nation-building process.
He further stated that the vision put forward by Ataturk has transformed Turkey into a modern and progressive country, in the 90 years since the proclamation of the Republic.
‘‘Today, Turkey stands proud to be a secular democracy, an active member of the Euro-Atlantic community pursuing full membership in the European Union and a member of the G-20, an emerging donor country, the 17th largest economy in the world, supported by a dynamic private sector,’’ Ergin told the gathering, which included Turkish nationals in The Gambia.
According to the Turkish diplomat, Turkey and The Gambia have friendly and brotherly relations based on a long and deep-rooted past.
He noted that the mutual opening of embassies in Banjul and Ankara in 2011 has facilitated and intensified the bilateral relations.
‘‘The two countries have extended the ongoing dialogue and fruitful cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, tourism, sustainable development, education, health, military and security,’’ he added.
He stated that in the area of education, the Turkish government each year allocates higher education scholarships to Gambian students and, in the year ahead, the number of scholarships to be granted to the Gambian students will be doubled.
Susan Waffa-Ogoo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the declaration by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk on 29th October 1923 is an important milestone in the rich history of Turkey, noting that it occurred under circumstances that challenged the very viability of the Turkish nation.
‘‘However, the bravery and patriotism of the founding fathers of the Turkish Republic reinforced the fortitude of the Turkish people in finding solutions to the challenges that followed the collapse of the Othman Empire,’’ she stated.
According to Susan Waffa-Ogoo, Turkey’s engagement with the international community continues to be characterized by its firm commitment to the underlying principle of its foreign policy.
She noted that the country’s ability to merge its goals for domestic resilience, rapid socio-economic development and regional peace is an integral factor in the sustainability of peace and development in the Middle East and Asia.
Noting that over the years, the relations between Turkey and the African continent have been rapidly growing, Foreign Affairs Minister stated that through constant high level engagements between Turkey and the continent, the ground work would continue to be laid for a more sustained and mutually beneficial cooperation.
In particular, she added, the government and people of Turkey continue to be key development partners of The Gambia.