Dignitaries gathered in southeast Australia on Monday to pay homage to the men who lost their lives a century ago in the battle of Canakkale in Turkey, and to unveil a sculpture that commemorates the bond since formed between the two countries.
Together in Melbourne, the premier of the state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, and Turkey's ambassador to Australia, Reha Keskintepe, unveiled Turkish Friendship Memorial Sculpture “The Seeds of Friendship,” by Mathew Harding.
At the base of the 3 x 6 meter statue are the words the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, sent to Australian and New Zealand mothers who had lost their sons in the battle on Turkish soil that that they came to remember as Gallipoli.
"Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace," it says.
"There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side-by-side in this country of ours.
"You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosoms and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they become our sons as well."
Andrews underlined that the two countries had started off from the worst of times "from the brutality and the senselessness of the war [to]... a warm friendship, a bond that cannot be broken, a bond that is so rich and important.”
“I don’t think anyone today can even imagine what, Melbourne, or Victoria and broader Australia would look like without the contribution of the Turkish community,” he added.
He said that the community had contributed in business, politics, sports, in community life and with their hard work.
After such sadness, we see with pride what Turks and Australians have managed to do together, he added.
Tens of thousands of Turkish nationals and soldiers died at Gallipoli, along with tens of thousands of Europeans, plus around 7,000-8,000 Australians and nearly 3,000 New Zealanders.