PM says Turkey's willingness to aid the world's oppressed is part of its national tradition and culture, as Turkey marks Youth and Sports Day
ANKARA – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed Turkey's generosity in aiding the poor around the world as the country marked its Youth and Sports Day in memory of the nation's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark different welfare projects carried out by the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency, Erdogan said on Monday: “The process starting on 19 May, 1919, does not have to be confined to our national borders."
"Turkey has turned from a receiving hand into a giving hand and will continue to help people in need throughout the world, because this is an Ottoman tradition and national culture of the Turks.”
He praised Turkish aid agencies for their work in Palestine, Somalia, Georgia and Tunisia and also in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia where 44 people lost their lives during the recent flooding across the Balkans.
- Wave of grief
Erdogan added: “It is wrong to say that Turkey was left alone during the Liberation War because the sons of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palestine, Syria and Iraq also sacrificed their lives, fighting side-by-side with our ancestors, and we cannot forget the financial aid sent by the people of Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan at that difficult time.”
Turning to the 13 May coal mine tragedy in the town of Soma - the deadliest mining disaster in Turkey's history - in which 301 miners lost their lives, Erdogan thanked Pakistan especially for declaring a day of mourning and other countries for sharing the nation's pain.
The horrific disaster sparked a wave of grief across Turkey, where nationals continue to mourn the dead.
The cause of the explosion and fire which followed has yet to be determined. The death toll surpassed that of a firedamp explosion which killed 263 miners in Zonguldak in 1992.
- Right to vote
Erdogan also received a delegation of youths, saying: “Our aim is to give the right to elect and be elected to 18-year-old people as in Germany, the Netherlands and other democratic countries.”
The May 19th commemoration in Turkey marks the 95th anniversary of founder Ataturk’s arrival in the northern city of Samsun from the occupied Ottoman capital of Istanbul in 1919, which prompted the country’s war for independence.
Most Turkish territories were at the time occupied by Allied Forces following Turkey's defeat in the First World War in 1918.
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