Peter Costello


Address to the Turkish International Service



24 APRIL 2003

During the eight months of the Gallipoli Campaign, from April to December 1915, more than one million soldiers, from sixteen different nations, fought over this land.

Both sides fought hard, with courage and determination, but also with honour.

Of the allied and Turkish soldiers who fought here, one in every two was wounded, more than 130,000 died.

The weight of these numbers is heavy. But these numbers alone do not properly quantify the full effects of that loss, including those they left behind. Let us remember them also.

Today we come together to commemorate the lives lost during the Gallipoli campaign, not just of our own, but of all those who fought and died here.

At the same time, we should also reflect upon the legacy that their sacrifice left for us.

When we walk amongst the graves on the Peninsula, we are reminded that the majority of these men were young with friends, parents, wives and families. These men at Gallipoli were fighting for their future and their country's future.

For both Australia and Turkey, the Gallipoli Campaign, or the Canakkale Sea Battles, was the furnace where the foundations of our two nations were forged.

Australia, before the Gallipoli campaign, was a colony of less than five million. The Gallipoli Campaign was the first time Australians had fought together as a nation. It has been said that the Australians went to Gallipoli as a collection of states, and left as a nation.

The majority of those who fought at Gallipoli were not professional soldiers. The majority of Australian young men who came to Gallipoli in 1915, were farmers and accountants, stockmen and teachers, the salt of our earth.

The Turks too, were the flower of their generation: doctors and teachers, artists and engineers, were a large proportion of those who perished on the battlefields of Gallipoli. They were defending their homeland.

The qualities these men displayed: courage, innovation, strength in the face of adversity, and most of all respect for each other, are qualities which have served as an inspiration for our nations ever since.

For Turkey, the Canakkale Battles were where the great leader and General, and later founder and President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, led his troops to victory over the allied forces in defence of their homeland.

From this point, Ataturk went on to be victorious in a great many other battles, and eventually established the Turkish Republic in 1923. We also pay tribute to Ataturk today not only for his valour and courage in battle, but also for his gracious and noble attitude to the fallen soldiers of the allied forces.

The bond between Australia and Turkey is very strong. Turkish and Australian soldiers spilt their blood on the battlefields of Gallipoli. Today, the many Turkish Australians who proudly call both Turkey and Australia home, represent the strong blood ties that exist between our two countries.

There are now more than 100,000 people of Turkish origin who call Australia home. We see that more and more the sons and daughters of the first Turkish migrants to Australia, are now returning to Turkey to discover their heritage and their origins. Just as thousands of Australians come to Gallipoli each year to discover their heritage.

The Gallipoli legacy gives Australians a sense of identity, and a sense of nationhood, as it does for Turkey. We recognise that when we come here to commemorate their sacrifice.

For those who fought and lost their lives, defending the values they, and we believe in, we honour them by keeping alive their memory, and making the most of the opportunities we have for friendship and community with other nations.

In Australia's capital, at the head of Anzac Parade, stands a memorial to the great leader and founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

I know too, that in the new museum in Ataturk's Mausoleum in Ankara, a great deal of attention is paid to the story of the Gallipoli campaign, and particularly to the relationship of mutual respect which existed between the Turkish and ANZAC soldiers.

Memorials and ceremonies such as this send a powerful message about the strong relationship that still exists between our two countries.

At Gallipoli our soldiers lay side by side, and today at Gallipoli we stand shoulder to shoulder, in commemorating their sacrifice, honouring their memory, and strengthening the bonds of friendship their strength of character enabled us to have.

The friendship is renewed and strengthened everytime our nations come together. This is a friendship renewed today and each time we meet.

We remember the soldiers who died, and we remember too, the respect they had for each other, friend and foe.

24 Apr 2003

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