President puts his stamp on ceremony marking 92nd anniversary of Republic of Turkey
AA photoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aspiration to put his stamp on the history of the 92-year-old Republic of Turkey through distinctive moves dominated this year’s celebrations of Republic Day, while opposition leaders, however, were ringing alarm bells over the future of the country.
For the first time, military tanks were not part of the parade at the Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) in the capital Ankara, while the Presidential Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was on stage instead of a military band. The CSO played “Rondo Alla Turca,” widely known as “The Turkish March,” from 18th century Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and “Köçekçe,” a dance rhapsody from Turkish composer Ulvi Cemal Erkin.
Erdoğan had already announced the repertoire of the day when he hosted a reception at the presidential palace on Oct. 28, with guests being ordinary citizens from all 81 provinces of Turkey in a bid to display the palace as “the public’s house.”
“A brand new understanding with shows symbolizing our nation’s thousand-year-old values and accomplishments will be displayed during our republic holiday. During the ceremony, the same orchestra will perform both Ulvi Cemal Erkin’s ‘Köçekçe,’ which is an exposition of his own culture, and the ‘Turkish March,’ which famous composer Mozart composed by getting inspired by our culture,” he said at the reception.
“When you look at memories from particularly the 1940s, you see the deep contradiction between celebrations of the republic holiday and the nation’s state of mind and life. While on one side, the republic holiday celebrations are held with frocks, waltzes and champagne, a nation who is trying to survive with no shoes and no jackets to wear and is half-starved is gazing around at this picture. Following a lengthy struggle, we have eliminated this picture in which the republic is on one side and the public is on the other side because a public exists all together. There is no discrimination among the public,” he said.
“Just like today, we are all together here,” he added, in his speech reminiscent of his well-known rhetoric concerning the single-party rule of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the early years of the republic, which he once described as “a dark past filled with brutality and oppression.”
“No matter what the conditions are, we have the power to defeat all kinds of threats directed at our state, which we founded with a fight for independence, which went down in history and which we crowned with a republic. Turkey will definitely reach its 2023 goals,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 29, delivering a speech at the ceremony at the AKM.
Erdoğan is widely believed to want to rule as a more powerful, U.S.-style president by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the secular republic, and rival the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as the most powerful modern Turkish leader.
Yet, opposition leaders have drawn a gloomy picture on the occasion of the 92nd anniversary of the foundation of the republic.
“Today, Turkey is living one of the deepest crises in the history of the republic. Who is ruling the country? There is a governance vacuum,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a radio interview on Oct. 29.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, meanwhile, released a written statement to mark the day.
“Ninety-two-years later, the Republic of Turkey is waiting to be rescued again. The sole authority who would do this, who would fulfill this national and historical mission and who would carry out long-awaited showdown is the great Turkish nation,” Bahçeli said.
The leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by Erdoğan, and the prime minister of the interim government taking the country to Nov. 1 snap elections, Ahmet Davutoğlu, for his part, gave a message of unity through social media.
“The picture of unity which we will display on the occasion of the holiday is the best response to those who want to sow seeds of discord among us,” Davutoğlu said in a message posted to his Twitter account on Oct. 29.
Davutoğlu also attended the ceremony at the AKM, while Kılıçdaroğlu was the only opposition party leader in attendance.