Turkey, Western leaders remember centenary of Gallipoli landings (PHOTOS)
On Friday, Turkey commemorated the 100th anniversary since the April 25 Gallipoli landings, which was the Ottoman Empire’s greatest First World War success. It’s military managed to repel the Allied Forces’ attack on Constantinople (Istanbul).
The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and his New Zealand counterpart John Key, as well as the heir to the British throne Prince Charles and his son Prince Harry joined the ceremonies on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.
“I repeat once more on behalf of all – before the memory of hundreds of thousands of young men lying in this small peninsula – our determination to work to let peace and prosperity prevail in the world,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the ceremony.
The fighting would eventually claim more than 130,000 lives, 87,000 of them on the Ottoman side. Australia and New Zealand paid a great price in the battle, and both nations lost 8,700 and 2,800 soldiers respectively on April 25 alone, known as the Anzac Day. The tragic events helped to forge the two nations’ identities.
“Like every generation since, we are here on Gallipoli, because we believe that the Anzacs represented Australians at our best,” Abbott said.
— nzherald (@nzherald) April 25, 2015
The battle lasted nine months, as the Ottoman forces resisted the Allies, who were trying to secure the peninsula. The Allied forces included soldiers from around the Commonwealth.
The military events that unfolded also play a significant role in the modern day Turkish national identity. Although the Ottoman forces would win the Gallipoli campaign, they along with Germany, would lose the First World War. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire would eventually lead to the creation of the current Turkish state in 1923.
Meanwhile, Armenia has expressed disappointment with Turkey’s decision to move the date to remember the Gallipoli landings. It is normally celebrated on April 25, but was moved a day forward to April 24. Yerevan sees this as a deliberate attempt by Ankara to deflect attention from the 100th anniversary of the Ottoman Turks mass slaughter of around 1.5 million Armenians.
— ryan (@ryaninnz) April 24, 2015
Several top officials, including French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the commemorations to mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide. Turkey strongly rejects claims that the genocide ever took place and says the death toll has been inflated.
The April 24 date is significant for Armenians as 100 years ago, the Ottoman authorities detained some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders. They were later executed in Constantinople (Istanbul) and subsequently became the first victims of the genocide.