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Turkey marks 107th anniversary of WWI victory and sacrifice

19 March 2022 13:39 (UTC+04:00)
Turkey marks 107th anniversary of WWI victory and sacrifice

By Trend

The 107th anniversary of Turkey's Canakkale victory during World War I was celebrated on Friday. However, the day, officially called Canakkale Victory and Martyrs' Day, was a solemn occasion. All across the country, people visited the graves of soldiers and others killed in action, either during counterterrorism operations or in World War I.

The culmination of ceremonies and remembrance was in Canakkale, where the Ottoman troops fought notable battles against invaders in the western province more than a century ago. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other dignitaries attended the events in Canakkale, on a patch of the Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Peninsula where troops, including patriotic volunteers from all corners of the Ottoman Empire, fought against the Allied forces.

Erdogan was joined by Parliamentary Speaker Mustafa Shentop, several ministers and Devlet Bahceli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as his helicopter landed near the enormous Martyrs’ Memorial next to the graves of soldiers killed in World War I.

The president greeted a small crowd, including army veterans, and attended a wreath-laying ceremony in memory of the fallen. A row of naval vessels held a parade at sea, while an aerial stunt team of the army flew above to honor the fallen. Ministers presented the standard of an Ottoman unit to the president during the ceremony. Erdogan kissed the standard before handing it to Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and delivered an emotionally charged speech to mark the day.

The president said that the Canakkale battles were a great saga of sacrifice, bravery and patriotism of the Turkish nation, “a glorious page of our history.” “We remember with respect and gratitude the martyrs who made the saying ‘Canakkale cannot be passed’ real,” Erdogan said.

Saying that the victory in Canakkale is significant not only for Turkey but also for far-flung regions of the Balkans, the Middle East and other places, Erdogan said: "Canakkale expresses our shared fellowship." "Along with our own children, I would like to see the youth of the Balkans and Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia all come along here to get to know about their ancestors," Erdogan added.

March 18 is the day when the Allied forces charging through the sea were defeated in 1915 by the resilience of outnumbered Ottoman troops who faced modern naval vessels with primitive artillery. They demonstrated remarkable feats of bravery during the clashes. Their victory stopped the naval campaign through the Dardanelles (Canakkale) from reaching Istanbul, the then-capital of the Ottoman Empire, but the Allied Powers made another push over land to defeat the Turkish army, only to face a stronger resistance and a more fierce battle. The battle fought in Canakkale was disastrous for both sides, with huge losses of life, but it was also the last great victory of an empire already in its death throes. More importantly, it inspired a nation struggling in the post-World War I period to unite under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and fight a War of Independence that ultimately lead to the creation of the modern Republic of Turkey.

Ataturk, then known simply as Mustafa Kemal, had demonstrated his military skills in Canakkale with his tactics and resolution while facing the enemy forces.

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