AKP government scales down national day festivities

AKP government scales down national day festivities

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP government scales down national day festivities

This photo shows ‘foreign invaders’ during a reenactment of the War of Independence at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the rescue of Şanlıurfa from invaders. The reenactment demonstrations of Turkish victories will not be held anymore. DHA photo

The government has significantly overhauled and scaled down official ceremonies on national holidays and commemoration days, removing the controversial reenactment demonstrations of Turkish victories over hostile forces and further curbing the profile of the military.

Under a regulation issued by the Cabinet and published in the Official Gazette over the weekend, only the Republic Day of Oct. 29 will be celebrated as a state event, under the patronage of the President, who will lead the ceremony at Atatürk’s mausoleum and host a reception in the evening at Çankaya Palace. The new regulation also confirmed the President’s takeover of the Victory Day celebrations on Aug. 30 from the chief of general staff, who had up to now always received the greetings and hosted the reception at military facilities. Victory Day will be the only national holiday to retain a military parade. However, the highest administrative official will lead provincial ceremonies, accompanied by the local commander and the mayor.

North Korean style shows

Government officials have long criticized the celebration of national holidays as old-fashioned and resembling those in totalitarian countries such as North Korea and the former Soviet Union. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hailed the new regulations in a speech in the southern city of Adana on May 5. “The turning points in our history were highlighted only in their military context and confined to obligatory official ceremonies that overlooked the enthusiasm behind them. We are lifting the dark official curtain and military outlook from our national holidays,” Erdoğan said.

The celebration of National Sovereignty and Children’s Day on April 23 and The Day of Youth and Remembrance of Atatürk on May 19 will no longer include official ceremonies, parades and lavish shows at stadiums. At the government level, the ministers of education and sports and youth will respectively issue messages to mark the two holidays. They will attend simple ceremonies in a province of their choosing, which will include only the laying of a wreath at an Atatürk monument, the playing of the national anthem and the raising the national flag up a flagpole. Other festivities to be organized by local committees will feature no official reception of greetings and parades.

The anniversaries of historical days and events commemorating Atatürk on a local level will be organized by the office of the provincial governor. These may include conferences, exhibitions, contests, music and dance shows, but again no official parades or receptions of greetings. In practice, this means that the regulation puts an end to the often criticized reenactments of battles between Turks and enemy forces that have been usually staged on days marking the liberation of individual cities from occupation.