Dear UWI readers,
On this day, the Turkish Republic commemorates its greatest son, commander, politician-reformer, first president and founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Mustafa Kemal died at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul on November 10, 1938. A historical figure of the highest caliber, his example will light the way for many generations, giving hope to peoples and sovereign states around the world.
While Mustafa Kemal’s role in history has been the subject of some debate, even among rivals he received praise for his fiery patriotism, sincerely striving for personal development in his every action.
Kemal Atatürk combined the best qualities a politician, commander and man might possess. He always treated his defeated foes with respect, and never humiliated or oppressed the weak and helpless.
Two facts from his life perfectly exemplify these qualities. Mustafa Kemal did not punish the last Ottoman Sultan Mehmed VI, instead allowing him and his family to leave Turkey in exile. Few leaders have had such generosity. The second example: when the Greek army left Izmir, leaving the city ransacked and burning in 1922, Mustafa Kemal did not insult the flag of his defeated enemy as the Greeks had, saying only “Remove it, I will not repeat this.”
He was also fearless. In 1918, when the outcome of the First World War was still uncertain and the fate of the Ottoman Empire hung in the balance, he looked upon the approaching British and French battleships without envy and calmly said “as they have come, so will they go” (geldikleri gibi giderler) while others shook in fear. The Turkish people remember him with admiration and pride for his bravery.
As a military commander, Mustafa Kemal guided his soldiers and officers to victory during the Battle of Gallipoli, containing and defeating the British landing on the Gallipoli peninsula precisely because he endlessly believed in his people, inspiring them with his courage, bravery and confidence.
One could endlessly list his merits, so replete they would be sufficient in a hundred historical figures. We would like to quote three of his most powerful statements– even today, they stand as a foundation for Turkey’s foreign policy.
- 1. Yurtta sulh cihanda sulh – Peace at home, peace in the world.
- 2. Söz konusu Vatansa gerisi teferruat – In relation to the Motherland, everything else is just detail.
- 3. Eğemenlik kayıtsız şartsız milletindir – Sovereignty rests unconditionally with the nation.
[Dünyanın en büyük lideri – saygıyla şukranla anıyoruz. 1881-193 ∞]