Turkey starts programme of events to mark Centenary of Gallipoli campaign

Posted on centenarynews.com on 19 March 2015
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lead a series of commemorative events this week to mark the sacrifice made by Ottoman soldiers during the First World War campaign in Gallipoli.

At ceremonies held in the seaport town of Çanakkale (Gallipoli), and at the 40-metre high Martyrs’ Memorial, Davutoglu remarked: “The heritage of the Ottoman soldiers who sacrificed themselves will always be carried by all Turkey.”

Despite being on the losing side in the First World War, the Turks regard the Gallipoli campaign as a victory and one that was a pivotal precursor to the War of Independence and creation of the modern state of Turkey in 1923.

Now known as Martyrs’ Day, March 18th marks the centenary of the Çanakkale naval battle in which Ottoman forces held off the invading French and British warships. Martyrs’ Day ceremonies were held in provinces across Turkey, and tributes were also paid to the quarter of a million soldiers from across the Ottoman Empire who fought in the Gallipoli campaign.

Minister for Culture and Tourism, Ömer Çelik, said of the ceremony: “We will make ourselves heard with an extensive ceremony to emphasise that the Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial does not symbolise war, but symbolises peace.”

The ceremonies were accompanied by salutes and displays from warships and fighter jets in and around the Dardenelles Strait. Turkey will host the international ceremony to mark the beginning of the land campaign in Gallipoli on April 24th.

Photo credit: Presidential Press Office

Posted by: Eadaoin Hegarty, Centenary News