Turkey marks 100th anniversary of Sivas Congress
The pivotal weeklong congress of the Turkish National Movement was held in the eastern Sivas province on Sept. 4, 1919, when Turkey was fighting its War of Independence.
“Here were made decisions that prepared the independence of a nation,” Mustafa Kemal Ataürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, once said about the congress.
At the congress, Atatürk continued the struggle for national liberation which he started in the Black Sea province of Samsun province on May 19 of the same year.
“After a century we repeat once more that the mandate administration and patronage are never acceptable. Homeland is a whole within national borders,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the gathering for commemoration. Our country, our flag, our state, our nation, our independence is our honor,” he added.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) convened its Party Assembly in Sivas for the anniversary. “The decisions taken at the Sivas Congress are important. The declaration says the homeland is a whole within national borders,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in Sivas. The first congress of the CHP is Sivas Congress, he said, noting that the CHP is the only party in the world that convened before the party was formed.
Leaving Amasya in the Black Sea region, he went to Sivas on June 27, a city he called a “reliable city.” During the meeting in Sivas, the situation of the country was discussed and it was decided to hold a national congress in the city as soon as possible.
Atatürk gave the directives about the Sivas Congress and went to Erzurum to gather a congress on June 28. He came back to Sivas on Sept. 2 and stayed there until Dec. 18.
A group under Atatürk’s leadership laid the basis of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey on Sept. 4, 1919 in the building known today as Atatürk Congress and Ethnography Museum.
According to records, during the seven-day congress, various proposals were discussed for the liberation of the nation, and it ended on Sept. 11, 1919 with the publication of a final declaration.
“Either independence or death,” Atatürk said about the principles reached by the congress.
From Sivas Congress to proclamation of the Republic
The concepts of national sovereignty and national will were accepted and began to be reflected in Turkish state life with the Sivas Congress, which Atatürk called the most important issue in his official correspondence from the moment he came to Samsun.
The delegation became a first-degree body deciding the fate of the country, and the legitimate organs of the national movement were formed with the participation of newly elected members at the congress.
This movement led to a great victory on Sept. 9, 1922 and was crowned with the proclamation of the republic on Oct. 29, 1923.