Top officials release messages marking 70th anniversary of Ataturk's death
President Abdullah Gul, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday all released messages marking the 70th anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. In his message, President Gul said Ataturk was a leader who won the love and respect of not only the Turkish people but all of humanity. "The reforms and revolutions following the proclamation of the republic under Ataturk's leadership laid the foundations for a democratic, modern, independent and prosperous Turkey, and started a great transition and modernization process," he added. "While moving towards the goal of surpassing the level of civilized nations set by Ataturk, it is vitally important for Turkey to continue growing, progressing and maintaining the modernization process with unity." Toptan's message said that Ataturk's principles and revolutions would ever sustain and guide the Turkish nation. In his message, Erdogan said, "We are in the midst of a huge campaign to provide the most advanced standards of living to all our citizens, in line with the goal set by Ataturk of reaching beyond the level of civilized nations." Stressing that the republic's greatest ideal is to unite all persons of the nation on the basis of citizenship in the Turkish Republic, regardless of ethnic, religious or lifestyle differences, Erdogan added, "I believe that by protecting all values and institutions of the republic, our nation has been contributing to the realization of this goal." He also said, "In line with its founding ideal, the Turkish Republic is now one of the strongest countries of the free and prosperous world, and a prestigious member of the family of civilized nations." Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli and Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug also released messages marking the anniversary.