Ask Mehmet: Republic Day

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Ask Mehmet is a forum for people to ask questions of the local area, as well as the outer confines of the region and the country as a whole. To submit a question, send an e-mail with the subject "Ask Mehmet" to 39abw.pa@incirlik.af.mil. Then, look for an answer to the question on the 39th Air Base Wing's official website at www.incirlik.af.mil and Incirlik Air Base's Facebook page.

Question: Mehmet, what is Republic Day?

Answer:

On Oct. 29, 1923, Turkey declared itself an independent republic and in commemoration of Republic Day, ceremonies, parades and other events will take place throughout the country.

The history of Republic Day starts with the Ottoman Turks. When they first appeared in the early 13th century in Anatolia, conquering Turkish and Mongolian tribes, and pressing against the eastern border of Byzantium.

At its height, the Ottoman Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf in the east to the outskirts of Vienna in the west, including all of northern Africa and present-day Balkan and Middle Eastern countries. After having one of the biggest empires the world had ever seen, ruling lands on three continents for more than 600 years, the Ottoman Empire was diminished after World War I.

In World War I, Turkey allied and fought with the Germans. As a result of Germany's defeat the allied forces divided and occupied Anatolia (Turkey).

The Greeks took Izmir and the Agean region, the British gained Istanbul and straits, the French occupied the Adana-Gaziantep region while the Italians took the current Antalya area.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, general of the Turkish forces, could not accept the partition of his country. He was the man who stopped the British Armada at the Dardannels, the hero of Gallipoli and victorious commander during the war.

Deciding to create the nation of Turkey, within the current borders, Ataturk left Istanbul May 15, 1919, traveling to Samsun. Four days later, May 19, he started the War of Independence in Anatolia. He fought the ruling sultan as well as the invaders.

In spite of many difficulties, he drove the invaders and the sultan, out of Turkey. Ataturk founded the Grand National Assembly April 23, 1920, during the War of Independence, and was elected the GNA chairman.

The treaty of Lausanne, a treaty signed by Turkey and allied forces that settled the conflit, was a political victory for the rulers of the new state and freed the country from foreign occupation. The treaty also established the territory and integrity of the land.

Long before the nation's push for independence, an idea had taken shape in Ataturk's mind--the state would be a republic.

However, in order not to sow the seeds of indifference he had not spoken of it, not even to his closest friends. Following the abolisment of the Sultanate,  Ataturk decided it was time to take action, to strengthen the political structure of the Turkish state.

The country needed to name its new form of government. To end the debates in the assembly, Ataturk consulted with his closest friends over a dinner held around midnight Oct. 28, 1923, and made the decision to proclaim the country as a republic.

After the meal, Ataturk rose and declared, "Friends, we shall proclaim the republic tomorrow." The next day, an amendment to the constitution was proposed and the Turkish state was proclaimed the Republic of Turkey.