BRIGADIER GENERAL HALDUN SOLMAZTÜRK (ret’d) has sent us an article which appeared recently in the Gelibolu Derneği magazine “Gallipoli Breeze”, Vol. 13, Winter 2013/14.
Click here to see the article in full (including images) in both Turkish and English.
We are also publishing Brig. Gen. Solmaztürk’s article (below) in full. The article explains the beginnings of GALLOPLI & DARDANELLES INTERNATIONAL, its successful launch in Turkey in September 2013, and how both organisations plan to work together in a spirit of mutual friendship and co-operation in the future.
GALLIPOLI & DARDANELLES INTERNATIONAL
A truly international ‘Gallipoli’ association came into being
Civil society is considered to be the backbone of any genuinely democratic society as it enables citizens to participate in the governance of the country. By this way they can make meaningful differences in their own lives by having an influence on political decisions and on the way they are implemented. However, civil society organisations are not necessarily political organisations. Nor are they alternatives either to governments nor to political parties, they just complement them.
Without a vigorous civil society, democracy is just a hollow crust. In today’s globalised world, international civil society has gained an equal — if not even more — importance for participation in the decision-making mechanisms by empowering citizens through international coalitions, partnerships and mutual/multilateral assistance. Today’s world is a world of international networks; complex, rigorous, but above all transparent and open to participation. Speaking by the military jargon, they are ‘force multipliers‘ for democratic citizenship in the modern world.
Recently, a new, truly international civil society organisation, the Gallipoli & Dardanelles International, as a partner, brotherly association of the Gelibolu Derneği, was launched on the 10th of September 2013, in Gelibolu town.
The G&D Int was founded by some former members of the Gallipoli Association — a longstanding partner of Gelibolu Derneği — but it is not the old wine in new bottles. It represents a completely new philosophy and different approach to international cooperation and partnership. Its founding members, already well familiar with the story of Gallipoli and determined to try their best to implement a novel concept, duly deserve to be called ‘quality wine’ in a brand new bottle.
The President and founder of G&D Int is Mr John Crowe whose father came to Gallipoli as a soldier in August 1915 and was wounded at Suvla Bay. G&D Int is a registered charity in the United Kingdom (No. 1153667). Therefore, its Executive Committee is necessarily composed of British citizens, however its membership is open to other nationalities — any nationality — and even in its Executive Committee, a Turkish citizen has already taken a role as an Honorary Member.
The launch event itself — along with the painstaking preparations for the establishment of the new association — took much effort on both sides involving mutual visits to London, Ankara and Gelibolu and common work in the course of almost two years. The formal declaration ceremony took place in the Atatürk Cultural Center of the Municipality and attended by both the Gelibolu Governor and the Mayor as well as local people of all ages and the local media.
This was followed by a conference by Prof. Miral Dizdaroglu, a Turkish scientist who resides in the United States, on the life of British scientist Henry Moseley who was killed in Gallipoli in 1915.
The next day was dedicated to visiting cemeteries and wreath laying ceremonies throughout the peninsula, from the Turkish monument to New Zealand monument. A third day was spared for visiting local villages — Bigali, Büyük Anafarta, Seddülbahir, Alcitepe — and talking with villagers. Mr Mustafa Özacar, Mayor of Gelibolu, not only provided full support for the launch event, but also agreed to be a Patron of this young but very worthwhile organisation. One can say that the special importance attached by the G&D Int to Gelibolu and Gelibolu people is well reciprocated.
Like the Gelibolu Derneği, Gallipoli and Dardanelles International aims to attract public attention to the horrors of wars and conflicts and to educate young generations about peace and inter/trans-cultural harmony, to advance mutual understanding. Its aims are summarised in a very meaningful motto of Remembrance, Friendship and Education.
As the Gallipoli Campaign represented, one hundred years ago an oasis of ‘soldierly’ conduct, in the middle of bloody battlefields and fronts, a beacon of friendship and gallantry on both sides, G & D Int embraces this legacy today.
The inaugural Committee Meeting of the G&D Int was held at Queensland House on the Strand in London on 8th November.
Among the agenda items were an ‘exchange programme’ of secondary school students involving respective families in Turkey and Britain to educate and promote friendship, school twinning schemes, common scout camps on Gelibolu peninsula as well as organised academic and cultural visits to the area.
As the Centenary of the First World War is fast approaching, already well-established partnership between the Gelibolu Derneği and the Gallipoli and Dardanelles International is a perfect tool for the common remembrance of all those who fought in Gallipoli and, having shed their blood here, became ‘our sons as well’..