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Speech by Ambassador Reha Keskintepe at the unveiling ceremony of the Turkish-Australian Friendship Monument, 14.04.2015

Speech by Ambassador Reha Keskintepe
at the unveiling ceremony of the Turkish-Australian Friendship Monument

Honorable Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria,
Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, representing the Australian Government,
The Honourable Minister John Eren,
The Honourable Minister Adem Somyürek,
The Right Honorable Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne,
The Honourable Ted Baillieu, Former Premier of Victoria and Chair of Victoria, Anzac Centenary Committee,
Majot General David McLachlan, State President of RSL,
Shadow Minister,
Esteemed members of the Parliament,
Distinguished members of the Turkish Australian Friendship Memorial Trust,
Mr. Serdar Baycan, Mr. Ramazan Altıntaş,
Compatriots, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon, iyi günler, hepiniz hoş geldiniz!

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here at the unveiling ceremony of the “Turkish Australian Friendship Memorial, Seeds of friendship”, at King’s Domain, a very special place in the heart of Melbourne.

As the representative of Turkey in Australia, I am honoured to witness the realization of this Memorial on the centenary of the Çanakkale Battles, where the seeds of friendship between our two nations were sown 100 years ago, in the battlefields of Gallipoli, by Turkish and ANZAC soldiers.

At the outset, I would like to pay tribute to those fallen heroes for their great sacrifice at Çanakkale and Gallipoli.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic who was also the commander of the Turkish forces at Gallipoli, laid the foundation of this special bond by sending the comforting message to ANZAC mothers in 1934. His poignant message of peace and reconciliation will resonate in our minds and hearts forever.

Today, we are proud that Turks and Australians developed a sense of deep respect, close and friendly relations regardless of those fierce battles.

Australia, home to around 150 thousand Turkish Australians, and Turkey share common values and ideals. We have close cooperation in addressing international issues of mutual concern. Both nations are working together to further enhance this cooperation in every field. Turkish-Australians are an integral part of this society and contribute in many ways to its progress.

Distinguished guests,

This year is particularly important for both Turkey and Australia due to the Centenary of the Çanakkale Battles. In order to commemorate this historic event, ceremonies and exhibitions are being held, new books and films are released and other social and cultural gatherings have been organized in both countries. Thousands of Australians will travel to Turkey to attend the commemorative ceremonies to be held on 25 April.

In this context, the Friendship Monument is a very timely initiative, reflecting the historic bond and unique relations between the two countries.

This Monument will be very special for future generations as a place for reflection and understanding, not only about the sacrifices of their forefathers, but also the reconciliation, mutual respect and genuine friendship born between Turkey and Australia.

Thus, I believe it is a great contribution to the multicultural fabric of Melbourne as well.

The Friendship Memorial Project is also truly symbolic as it emphasizes the strong ownership and appreciation of Turkish-Australian friendship. I am very glad to note that the project has been generously funded by the Turkish government, the Australian federal government and the state government of Victoria, as well as by the Victoria Returned and Services League, MPs and many Turkish-Australian associations and private individuals. The Melbourne City Council and Lord Mayor Mr. Doyle has extended strong support for the project by allocating this exceptional venue.

On this occasion, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Federal and state governments, the Melbourne City Council and all sponsors for their invaluable contributions in strengthening Turkish Australian friendship by supporting this Project.

I would also like to commend Mr. Matthew Harding, for his marvelous artwork, by crafting the resolute bond between Turkey and Australia.

I extend my sincere thanks to the members of the Friendship Memorial Trust for their dedicated and tireless efforts. Without their dedication and hard work, this monument could not have been erected.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the Honorable Premier and all the dignitaries and guests for their participation at this memorable and historic event.

Long live Australian-Turkish Friendship!

Thank you.