Ankara bids farewell to former President Demirel in official ceremony
REUTERS PhotoA state funeral was held in Ankara for former Turkish President and seven-time Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel, who died aged 90 on June 17.
Demirel’s body was taken from his house on Güniz Street, located in the Tunalı neighborhood of Ankara, at 8 a.m. on June 19, and brought to the Turkish parliament for the state ceremony that was held between 9-9:45 a.m.
Demirel’s coffin was towed through the street escorted by columns of blue-uniformed soldiers, swaying as they marched.
The rose petals laid on his flag-draped coffin and rosewater sprayed on the street in front of his cortege were reminders of his home province of Isparta, famous for its roses.
Demirel lay in state in front of the parliament’s Gate of Honor, where two speeches were delivered in honor of the former president, one from his family and one from the state.
Demirel’s body was then taken to the Kocatepe Mosque on a gun carriage travelling through the streets on a cortege, which was escorted by the presidential guard regiment.
Former head of the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) Mehmet Nuri Yılmaz performed the funeral prayer in the Kocatepe Mosque where hundreds of people also attended.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, former President Abdullah Gül, Northern Cyprus President Mustafa Akıncı, Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel were among the politicians who attended the ceremony.
After the funeral prayer, Demirel’s body was flown to the Aegean province of Isparta by a military airplane and transferred to Çalcatepe in his home village of İslamköy, where he will be laid to rest on June 20, Aylin Cesur, Demirel’s doctor, said June 18 in front of Demirel’s house in Ankara.
“President [Demirel] will be laid to rest in Çalcatepe, where a mausoleum will later be built. His wife, Nazmiye Demirel, will be transferred next to him with an arrangement that will be made later,” said Cesur.
Nazmiye Demirel passed away in May 2013 after fighting Alzheimer’s disease for several years. She is buried at a family graveyard in İslamköy, which is also her hometown.
Turkish authorities declared three days of national mourning over the passing of Demirel, who was known as “Baba,” or “Father,” to his supporters in Turkey’s farming heartland during his years in power.
Demirel, who served as prime minister seven times from the 1960s to the 1990s and as president from 1993 to 2000, died at Güven Hospital in Ankara where he had been undergoing treatment for a respiratory tract infection.