Gul: "Ataturk's vision requires an approach that transcends politics"
As Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, was commemorated yesterday throughout Turkey, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRTC) and Turkish missions in foreign countries on the 72nd anniversary of his death, President Abdullah Gul said Ataturk's vision requires an approach that transcends politics in order to prepare Turkey for the future. At a ceremony at the National Library in Ankara, the president said everybody should work together to reach such a goal. "Preparing Turkey for the future requires an approach that is above politics and which everybody contributes to. We have to achieve this for future generations," he said. "Turkey is in (the midst of) a great change, from politics to the economy, from democratization to the judicial system and society. Everybody's goal should be to make Turkey a stronger country." Also speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said the current government's reforms are in line with the principles of the republic. "Ataturk scored victories due to the authority he derived from the nation," he said. "With the reforms we make, we're aiming for a Turkey whose voice is heard throughout the world. We too derive our authority from the nation. We will protect the republic which we founded together." At the ceremony, Gul was joined by Chief of General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay, Constitutional Court Chief Justice Hasim Kilic, Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Hasan Gerceker, Council of State Chairman Mustafa Birden, Land Forces Commander Gen. Erdal Ceylanoglu, Air Forces Commander Gen. Hasan Aksay, Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Necdet Ozel, and Naval Forces Commander Adm. Esref Ugur Yigit. Daily life and traffic stopped at 9:05 am, the exact time when Ataturk passed away 72 years ago, as sirens wailed and people observed two minutes of silence out of respect for Ataturk. Flags across the country were flown at half-staff. Turkish state officials led by Gul also visited Ataturk's mausoleum, where they laid a wreath of red and white carnations and observed a minute of silence. Ataturk, born in 1881 in Thessalonica, was a Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman and founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first president. He became known as an extremely capable military officer during World War I. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, he led the Turkish national movement in the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies. His successful military campaign led to the liberation of the country and the establishment of Turkey. During his presidency, Ataturk embarked on a program of political, economic and cultural reforms. An admirer of the Enlightenment, he sought to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, democratic and secular nation-state.