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STATEMENT BY HER EXCELLENCY AMBASSADOR DAMLA YEŞİM SAY AT THE ANZAC CENTENARY COMMEMORATION CEREMONY AND COMMUNITY PLANTING, 27.04.2015

STATEMENT BY HER EXCELLENCY AMBASSADOR DAMLA YEŞİM SAY
AT THE ANZAC CENTENARY COMMEMORATION CEREMONY AND COMMUNITY PLANTING
(27 April 2015, ANZAC DRIVE RESERVE, Christchurch AT 12.00)

Honourable Minister,
Her Worship, the Mayor of Christchurh,
Distinguished Chair and members of the Avon-Otakaro Network
Dear Friends,
Kia ora, greetings to everyone.
It is indeed an honour for me to be here with you today on this very meaningful occasion.
I had the privilege to represent the Turkish people and the government on ANZAC Day last Saturday. We, side by side with our New Zealander and Australian friends commemorated and honoured our forefathers who fought and died for their respective countries in Gallipoli.
As the memories of Çanakkale Land Battles, in other words “the last gentlemen’s war” reach the age of a hundred, the historical background of our relationship continues to stand the test of time. Our forefathers were introduced to each other at a time of war. Their posterity have held on to the chance of building this unique friendship which they were denied.
Around New Zealand, including Christchurch, stones from Gallipoli are part of memorials, but Christchurch has one additional difference: Being “The Garden City”, it now hosts trees originating from Turkey. They are literally living proof of our constantly flourishing relations that branch out into the future.
I am particularly grateful for having another opportunity today and take part in this significant commemoration and planting ceremony to honour those who gave their lives for their countries.
I wish to thank Honourable Minister Nicky Wagner sincerely as without her help we were not be able to contribute to the restoration of the “Popies over Gallipoli” sculpture in Anzac Drive Reserve. Our contribution is in the form of pebbles from Gallipoli. One of our past presidents said when another piece of rock from Turkey was gifted to New Zealand in early 90’s, “the land and rocks of our country are sacred to us. We have agreed to remove a piece of rock as a symbol of the goodwill of the Turkish people to the fallen Anzac soldiers.” On behalf of the Turkish people, and on my own behalf, I want to reiterate our firm belief that these pebbles to be used to adorn “Popies over Gallipoli” sculpture will be seen as yet another token of the respect and affection that the Turkish people nurtured towards the people of New Zealand.
I believe there is no better way to express our true feelings and to remember our forefathers than reciting Atatürk’s words. I will leave you with them: