29 Ekim Cumhuriyet Bayramı Resepsiyonu

Reha Keskintepe 29.10.2012
Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to warmly welcome you all to the Turkish Embassy on the occasion of the 89th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. This is our first national day reception in Australia, one that we will always remember, thanks to your participation, the many good friends we have made already from the home country Australia and friends from many countries around the world who are represented here today. We are honored with your presence and once again, welcome!

And a few words in Turkish to my compatriots:
Degerli dostlarimiz, Cumhuriyetimizin ilaninin 89’yilini kutladigimiz bu güzel ve anlamli günde sizlerle birlikte olmaktan mutluluk duyuyoruz, hos geldiniz. Hepinize en icten dileklerimizle, sevgilerimizi sunuyorum.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Diplomats like to deliver speeches. They are thrilled when the opportunity arises to give a lenghty speech. And I am no exception! But the good news is that I made an enormous effort to shorten my address!

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of modern day Turkey, in his earlier days was a military commander and he fought in many wars including, as you know, on the Gallipoli front. After the end of the first great war, it took him 5 more years to achieve his goals and to found the Turkish Republic. Thereafter, consolidation of the hard achieved peace was of utmost importance. His motto was “peace at home, peace abroad”, which has served as a dictum for successive Turkish governments, as they deployed every effort to build an environment of peace and stability around Turkey and beyond.

Turkey at present serves as an island of peace and stability, at a time when there are many challenges facing our region. Turkey will stand on the right side of history and will support change, in line with the democratic aspirations of the peoples in the Middle East. We firmly believe that the days are near when the forces of change will prevail to the benefit of their peoples, who are striving for a better life, freedom, and opportunity. We are heartened by the fact that Australia shares the same concerns and supports the same humanitarian cause as Turkey does.

ladies and gentlemen,

Turkey stands today as the world’s 15th largest economy. Together with Australia, we are a member of the G20. Istanbul is at the center of the strong growth that Turkey has achieved in the last decade. Last year around 7 million tourists visited Istanbul. I am quite confident that next time around, when Australians decide to land on the shores of Turkey, it will not be Gallipoli but either the European or Asian shores of Istanbul. That is why I have brought my vintage post card collection of Istanbul, accurately showing all strategic locations on both shores of this ancient city!

Let me briefly give some information on this exhibition.

The postcards in the exhibition date back to the last two decades of the Ottoman period i.e (1895-1914), when İstanbul was called “Constantinople” in the West where these postcards were printed. In fact some of these postcards are the very first specimens depicting İstanbul at that time. In other words, they depict a by gone era, a world lost to us, but one that many Turks, including myself, feel great nostalgia for.

In the words of the Ottoman poet Sümbülzade Vehbi, “İstanbul is another world, which brings together the rest of the world”. I gather he meant that, as great cities are known to be, and there are a few in this country as well, İstanbul was proud of its multicultural roots and heritage. A standing testimony to this fact is the Hagia Sofia Museum, which successively served as a Church and as a Mosque.

The Historical Peninsula, which is amply represented in these postcards, houses the Topkapı Palace, the obelisque from Egypt, and many prominent Mosques such as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque or the “Blue Mosque”, with its 6 Minarets which are among the landmarks in this district.

The Ottoman capital was and is today divided by a Waterway, the Bosphorus (Boğaziçi in Turkish), with shores on both sides of this waterway, named the Anatolian Shores and the European Shores, as I have mentioned. This is the location where Europe and Asia divide geographically, but come together in every other way one can imagine. It is indeed a unique experience to board one of the mid 20th Century historical ferries which criss cross the Bosphorus’ 30 km north-south stretch while enjoying the mild breeze with a cup of tea, admiring the many palaces, kiosks, two fortresses facing each other built by Mehmet the Conqueror, hotels, Embassy residences and nowadays modern apartments which adorn both shores. However, with these postcards I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that İstanbul and the Bosphorus is as sparsely populated as a century ago, since a population of around 500 to 700 thousand has grown to over 12 million at present.

Distinguished Guests,

Throughout its 7000 year history, thousands of books have been written about İstanbul, its many neighborhoods (called köy or village) and the Bosphorus, and there are very prominent poems which an average Turk will be able to recite instantaneously. More recently, the 2006 Nobel Literature prize winner Mr. Orhan Pamuk has written an autobiography of self and place, titled “İstanbul: Memories and the City” which has become a go-to text for many who consider visiting the city, wherein he not only makes historical observations and captures the nostalgia felt for the past, but more importantly, he describes the many hidden mysteries of the city, wonderfully described in the language he employs as crystal clear as the views on those postcards.

I hope that you will be able to enjoy the exhibition and our National Day celebration and taste some of the food our chef has prepared for us. If you think that the food at Turkish restaurants in town is more delicious, you will get you money back!

Thank you.

Monday - Friday

09.00 - 12.30 / 13.30 - 17.30

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