World Bulletin / News Desk
Everyone should embrace the lessons learned from the Battle of Gallipoli and "entrust it to future generations," a senior Turkish minister said on Monday.
Culture Minister Nabi Avci was speaking at a ceremony held at the Canakkale Martyrs' Memorial in the northwestern Turkish province of Canakkale (Dardanelles) to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign.
The 1915 battle which took place in the province's Gallipoli (Gelibolu in Turkish) district marked a turnaround in favor of the Turks against the Allied forces during World War I.
"The Battle of Canakkale (Gallipoli) was not only a struggle for life, but also a struggle of the youth who died for honor and virtue," Avci said. Tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers were martyred in the historic battle.
Underlining the significance of the battle in Turkey’s history, the minister said: "It is our duty as a nation to give the Canakkale victory the value that it deserves."
Britain's ambassador to Turkey, Richard Moore, said the Gallipoli Campaign "was the field upon which waning empires clashed and the crucible in which new nations were forged".
Speaking on behalf of the former Allied powers at this year’s Gallipoli commemoration, Moore said he was "honored" to commemorate "all sides who gave their lives over a century ago".
"Here, 102 years ago, our nations fought against one another in bloody conflict, yet today we meet here as friends, in mutual respect and admiration.
"And perhaps that is the most optimistic lesson that we can draw from our remembrance that with open hearts and open minds the bitterest enemies can become true friends," the ambassador added.
- Historic legacy
The events leading up to the momentous battle started in February 1915, when Britain and France decided to launch the Gallipoli Campaign to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war as quickly as possible by reaching and capturing its capital, Istanbul.
They started their attack on March 18 -- the day which is commemorated today as the Canakkale Naval Victory Day -- but the waters were filled with a network of mines laid by Ottoman vessels.
On April 25, Allied soldiers landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula. The troops were there as part of a plan to open the Dardanelles Strait on Turkey's Aegean coast to Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the Ottoman capital.
The Allied forces, however, encountered strong and courageous resistance from the Turks and the campaign turned out to be a costly failure.
Tens of thousands of Turkish nationals and soldiers died, along with tens of thousands of Europeans, plus around 7,000 - 8,000 Australians and nearly 3,000 New Zealanders, referred together as Anzac troops.
Victory against the Allied forces boosted the morale of the Turkish side, who then went on to wage a war of independence between 1919 and 1922, and eventually formed a republic in 1923 from the ashes of the old empire.
Tuesday, April 25, will also see Anzac Day ceremonies which commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who gave their lives a century ago.
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