>Their sacrifice, our friendship


The article below appeared in todays Sun herald. I was going to write my own piece on ANZAC day but when I read this article I could not help but be deeply moved by the words.

The article is as follows.
Murat Ersavci, Turkey’s ambassador to Australia, writes of an unbreakable bond.

After 94 years the Gallipoli campaign is still something Australians and Turks carry in their hearts. It has become a noble link binding our two countries in a unique friendship, and I hope it will always continue to do so.
The first friendly contacts between Australian and Turkish soldiers took place near the place known as “Anzac Cove” in May 1920, digging graves to bury their dead. The Australian and New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli had come from the other side of the world, to fight in a futile conflict which had little or nothing to do with them or their country. They were being asked to give their lives in a war which was not really theirs. The Turkish soldiers were the sons of a land which was desperate and close to starvation. They knew that if they lost this battle, the country would be open to invaders and Turkey would probably be partitioned.
A more horrific war scenario is hard to imagine. Yet for many years our countries have approached the Gallipoli anniversary in a friendship of fellowship, even brotherhood, mourning the young and hopeful lives on both sides that were thrown away, and the heroism and valour of their sacrifice.
Gallipoli plays an important part in the national memories and self-consciousness of Australia and Turkey. Without the bitter but heroic experience of the campaign there, people today in both countries would see their land rather differently. That is why in March and April the various key dates in the Gallipoli calendar are commemorated with flags and ceremonies and speeches in Turkey, and in Australia.
In 2009, the veterans of the campaign are no longer with us. The families which once directly remembered the loss of a son, an uncle, a father, or a brother at Gallipoli, are represented only by later generations.Yet on both sides the memory of those who fell fighting is still as strong as ever.
There is of course a good deal of comfort to be gained from the sense of reconciliation and peace which our shared commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign brings us, regardless of which side our country was on. This solidarity is expressed perhaps best of all in the words of the founder of the Turkish Republic and its first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He declared that the fallen soldiers of other countries who lay buried in Gallipoli were now the sons of Turkey too and should sleep peacefully. It is due to him, and his genius as a man of peace and reconciliation as well as a commander, that the first shared commemorations of the Gallipoli campaign took place within a few years of the ending of the war.
Turkey and Australia have come a long way since 1915. We have a great deal in common. We are both prosperous industrial countries, democratic nations, and as allies, our soldiers today stand side by side in Afghanistan and in UN peacekeeping forces. We can both be proud of our record as upholders of international peace and stability, as well as of our commitment to spread the prosperity we have achieved to those who have not yet had this good fortune. All of this comes, at least in part, from the formative experience we both endured at Gallipoli and the lessons that we learnt from it.
But of course we also know that we live in a world which has many fearsome storm clouds of its own and has yet to achieve peace everywhere. No one before 1914 appreciated the terrible catastrophe that a world war would bring. I hope that in this generation we have a better idea of the benefits of peace and co-operation and mutual understanding and we should see those who work against them for what they are.
To me and my compatriots, the friendship between Turkey and Australia is a unique bond, forged in the horrors of battle, but strengthened over the years by people of goodwill on both sides, seeking to honour their dead by building a better world, one based on shared experiences and understanding.
Together with the Government and people of Australia, I salute the heroic dead of Gallipoli. Their sacrifice, whichever side they were on and whichever country they came from, was not in vain if we keep faith with them by ensuring that future generations live in a world worthy of humanity.