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95th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Turkey

8 November 2018

Ms Elif Çomoğlu Űlgen, Ambassador of Turkey hosted a reception at Turkish house in Pretoria, SA to celebrate Turkey's national day.

2018, said Ambassador Çomoğlu Űlgen, will be remembered as a landmark year in terms of Turkey-South Africa relations. Amongst the events marking this was Turkey being invited as a BRICS PLUS partner to the BRICS Summit which was successfully hosted by the Government of South Africa and the new Embassy Premises being inaugurated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Remarks by Ms Elif Çomoğlu Űlgen, Ambassador of Turkey

It is on the 29th of October in 1923 that modern Turkey was born out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, following a war of independence, where our nation fought for its very existence under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

On this occasion I would like to quote the following from the message of the President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E.Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:
“At the 95th anniversary of the proclamation of our Republic, I commemorate all our heroes, in particular Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, leading our victory on the War of Liberation and the foundation of our new state.
I wish Allah’s mercy upon all our ancestors, martyrs and veterans shedding blood and making great efforts for every inch of the Anatolian territory, our millennial motherland.
I see each step we have taken towards an advanced democracy and a strong economy in our efforts to carry our country “beyond the level of contemporary civilizations” as a light kindled for our glorious future. Our new airport, which we are inaugurating today in İstanbul, is one of these lights.
Each success of Turkey also nurtures, boosts and catalyses the hopes in the hearts of the oppressed and victims in our region and all over the world, as well as in the common conscience of mankind.
For this reason, our country ranks first in humanitarian assistance relative to its national income, although it is the world’s 17th biggest economy.
While everyone closed their doors and hearts to asylum seekers, Turkey heartily welcomed them, being the only country that rightly fulfils its humanitarian responsibilities.
It is quite an honour for us to make history as a nation that shares its home and bread with the oppressed, instead of turning its back on them, and always makes its choices in favour of equity and justice.
We will continue working with all our strength for the Republic of Turkey to stand forever, as we reach the 95th anniversary of its foundation.
With these thoughts, I celebrate once again our 29 October Republic Day.
”  End of Quote

Excellencies and distinguished guests,
I am particularly honored to host this reception at a time coinciding with the important centenaries not only for South Africans but for the African continent and indeed the wider international community. We are celebrating the 100th birthday of the son of Africa, the founder of the Republic of South Africa, Madiba of all souls, honorable Nelson Mandela and yet another icon  - Mama Albertina Sisulu- would have turned 100 years this year. They continue to shed their wisdom and light upon us. They encourage us in our fight against discrimination and against injustice.
We hail Madiba and Mama Sisulu and once again bow our heads with respect upon their precious memories.
2018 will also be remembered as a landmark year in terms of Turkey-South Africa relations. This year, Turkey was happy to be invited as a BRICS PLUS partner to the BRICS Summit which was successfully hosted by the Government of South Africa.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was warmly welcomed by President Ramaphosa and there has been opportunities for him to meet his BRICS Counterparts, as well as other leaders of the Africa Continent.  His visit also gave us the opportunity to warmly embrace the representatives of the Muslim Community of South Africa, as well as getting together with the prominent business circles in South Africa.
Yet an unforgettable moment was when the new Embassy Premises were inaugurated by the Turkish President; where he was embraced by the members of the Turkish community in South Africa. With our new Embassy premises in the heart of Pretoria we are happy to provide better services to our citizens as well as to all friends of Turkey.

This year has also been a great year in terms of tourism between our two countries. We are happy to record ever increasing numbers of tourists from both countries eager to visit each other. In bolstering tourism, I cannot pass by not referring to the important role the Turkish Airlines plays. A jewel brand of Turkey which brings our two faraway countries closer – as close as a 9 hours flights and as frequent as everyday from the three major cities of South Africa to Istanbul.

We observe with appreciation the progress made by the Republic of South Africa in the fields of regional and international relations since 1994.  Yet, our brotherly bonds, particularly with the muslim communities of this beautiful land goes far beyond, back to 1864, when the Ottoman Sultan at the time appointed a religious scholar, namely Ebu Bekir Effendi to the Cape region in order to educate the muslim communities in terms of the practices of Islam. Today, his heritage is still vividly observed in these communities and remains as a strong humane and cultural bond between our peoples. As a living testimony to this, today amongst us we have the President and some members of the Ottoman Cricket Club- a club with the name of “Ottomans” established by the students of Ebu Bekir Effendi, currently actively engaged in the professional Cricket league of Western Cape. I warmly welcome the Ottoman Cricket Club!

Likewise, Turkey continues its keen interest in further investing in Africa, and particularly so in South Africa. The Yunus Emre Cultural Institute in Johannesbourg which has been fully functioning in its second year has already taught to a good number of fellow South Africans how to speak and understand Turkish. The number of Turkish Scholarship holders from South Africa is increasing. On a positive note, the Coordination Office of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, namely TIKA in Pretoria has already successfully assumed a number of humanitarian and development projects  and is looking forward to do more.

A new Turkish institute has also opened up its branch in South Africa, namely the Maarif Foundation which serves in the field of education has already established its headquarter in Johannesburg and is looking forward to run a school in the next academic year.

Turkey is also determined to increase the trade volume between our countries. Currently, South Africa remains as the largest trade partner of Turkey in Sub Saharan Africa, but we very well know that given the potential of our two countries the current trade volume between our countries which rests around 2.2 billion US Dollars is one that needs to be doubled, even tripled in the coming years.

Therefore, we are determined to do more. We are determined to invest more in South Africa. Turkish entrepreneurs are very encouraged to further explore the South African market. And with this enthusiasm we welcome the encouraging results of last week’s Investment Conference.

Thus, I am confident that the coming years will witness continued cooperation between Turkey and South Africa in regional and global issues.

And, on a most popular note, let me also  refer to the successful transfer of a reputable South African soccer player, dear Sphiwe Tshabalala nows kicks the ball in ErzurumSpor, at the Turkish Soccer league – and despite the relatively colder climate in Erzurum, Tshabalala performs quite impressively and is already enthusiastically cheered up by the Turkish football funs!

Finally, I must also extend my heartfelt gratitude to the sponsors of this meaningful day; DEFY – which is a proudly South African Brand owned and operated succesfully by a Turkish company –ARCELİK –of which the General manager and his family is with us today! Thank you ! And special thanks to the Hotel Radisson Blue Sandton– which and I must confess is succesfuly managed by a great Turkish manager – thank you Volkan!  Furthermore, we are also grateful for the TURKISH GRAND BAZAAR for always extending their hand in any hospitality-required event! Thank you!

Honorable Guests,
I would also like to take this occasion to thank my dear colleagues, and staff of the Embassy who strived to make this day a memorable one. In particular my PA Madelein deserves gratitude for the very hard work of distributing invitations – which is always a challenge! And ultimately heartfelt thanks go to the Chef of our Embassy Burhan Usta and his able wife Emel who prepared and cooked everything you will taste on the menu!

I once again salute all of you for sharing the joy with us, and wish from the bottom of my heart a further flourishing relationship between Turkey and South Africa.

Long live Turkey- Long Live South Africa!




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