Turkiye marks the 99th anniversary of Republic with miscellaneous festivities

The Republic of Turkiye on Saturday held a series of nationwide miscellaneous events to mark Republic Day, 99 years since the country adopted a new regime which stands strong despite challenges

“Sovereignty unconditionally belongs to people,” Ataturk once said. This principle remains firm as Turkiye marks Republic Day, the day the country formally switched to being a Republic 99 years ago.

On Saturday, Turkiye organized nationwide festivities, from concerts to sports events and official ceremonies, to remember republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his most prized legacy.

Some provinces even started festivities before Saturday with concerts and other events but the main attraction will be a parade in the capital Ankara and events in the Turkish Grand National Assembly and a visit to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Ataturk in the capital, by the country’s incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other high-ranking officials.

The anniversary, one year short of the centenary of republic, was also marked by video mapping shows organized by the Communications Presidency on Saturday. The theme was “Century of Turkiye,” a new series of programs, projects and targets for development that were announced announced by President Erdogan on Friday.

Video mapping shows were reflected on walls of landmarks, like the Galata Tower and historic Haydarpaşa train station building in Istanbul and the Presidential Symphony Orchestrate building in Ankara, as well as squares in two cities and the western province of Izmir.

World countries congratulate Turkiye on Republic Day

A number of countries on Saturday congratulated the Turkish people and government on the 99th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Türkiye.

In a message to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Turkish nation and said Turkiye has become one of the most powerful countries that are getting stronger every day, developing rapidly and having a say in the international arena.

Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, also extended greetings to Türkiye.

Sharif said on Twitter: “On the 99th Republic Day of Turkiye, I extend our heartiest felicitations to President Erdogan amp; the people of Turkiye. The heroic struggle of Turkish people for independence under the leadership of Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk holds a prominent place in the annals of history.

“Over the years, Turkiye’s impressive economic strides under President Erdogan are acknowledged by the world. Pakistan seeks to deepen its multifaceted ties by further exploring the vast untapped potential in trade, commerce amp; industry.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also congratulated the people of Türkiye on the anniversary of the founding of the republic.

In a statement, Blinken said: “The relationship between Turkey and the United States is vital and grounded in the deep cultural and commercial ties between our two countries, as well as our work together as NATO Allies in furtherance of regional and global peace, security, and prosperity. We appreciate Turkey’s steadfast commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity amid Russia’s ongoing aggression.

On this special day, we join with our Turkish friends in celebration and are grateful for our longstanding and close ties.”

The Greek Foreign Ministry also extended greetings to the people and the government of Türkiye in a message posted on Twitter.

Republic Day

The republic, which replaced the collapsed Ottoman Empire, was declared a few months after an international treaty recognized the independence of the new state and the declaration of Ankara as its capital was made.

Ataturk, a veteran Ottoman officer who launched the struggle for independence when he secretly traveled to the northern province of Samsun in 1919, was the de facto leader of the new state. In the book “Nutuk” (“The Speech”), which compiled Ataturk’s speeches between 1919 and 1923, the leader recounts the declaration of the republic as something that happened over the course of a dinner with leading figures of the War of Independence.

“During the dinner (on Oct. 28, 1923), I told them we would declare the republic tomorrow. All my friends agreed with me and we took a break from the dinner to discuss what to do next. I never felt the need to discuss the plan to declare the republic because I never doubted that they thought differently than me,” he was quoted as saying.

Ataturk along with Ismet Inonu, who succeeded Ataturk as president, drafted a bill changing the 1921 constitution in which an amendment changed the State of Turkiye to the Republic of Turkiye and it was approved by Parliament the next day.

Ataturk was officially declared the first president at the same session of Parliament, amid chants of “Long live Republic!” by lawmakers and a thunderous applause. Ataturk famously concluded his speech after the election as the first president of republic with remarks, “The Republic of Turkiye will always be blissful, victorious and successful.”

National celebrations ensued after the declaration, but the first large-scale celebrations were on Oct. 29, 1924. In 1925, Parliament approved a proposal to declare the day a national holiday.

Building upon the legacy of a semi-parliamentarian system during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, the new republic introduced a wider democracy in which Ataturk is hailed as the great statesman credited with rebuilding a devastated country with new ideals.

Over the following decades, the democracy born out of republic was disrupted by multiple coup attempts. The first one was in 1960, about a decade after the first truly multiparty elections brought Democrat Party to power. The last one was in 2016 when the Gülenist Terror Group (FETO) tried to topple the democratically-elected government. Yet, at the end of the day, republic’s core values, most notably the sovereignty of the nation, overcame the odds.

Under Erdogan, Turkiye declared a new set of goals under the motto “Vision 2023” in reference to the centenary of the republic. Economically, the government plans to increase national income and exports, while other goals include a national health care system that covers every citizen, judiciary reforms, minimizing dependence on imports in defense and an active and efficient foreign policy.

Century of pride

Sabiha Ozar was 8 years old when the republic was declared. The retired teacher still feels proud to witness the joy and multiple meetings with Ataturk, who guided her to choose her profession.

Ozar, born in the central province of Konya, first met Ataturk in March 1923 during the leader’s visit to the city. She remembers Ataturk caressing her hair and advising her to study and “become a teacher.” She never forgot the advice and attended a teachers’ school, where she met Ataturk again during the opening of a factory.

She remembers the days before the declaration of the republic and how people were aware that “a change was imminent.” “Ataturk has always said the nation’s will would prevail and full independence was imminent. People knew that a new regime would be declared,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday. Ozar also recounts the excitement of people on the streets on the day of the declaration and hearing cannonballs shooting to announce the declaration.

Ozar also had an opportunity to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the republic with Ataturk. “I was a middle school student in Ankara. An arch was installed outside the old Parliament. There was Ataturk, standing right across us. He was delivering his famous 10th year speech. I remember crying. People were shouting, “Long live Mustafa Kemal.” They were singing. Everybody stayed up all night that day. It was a bright day,” she recounted.

She said, as a woman, she was grateful to Ataturk, who “always emphasized the equality of men and women” and encouraged women’s education. “He always placed importance on education and helped founding new schools. We had few schools back then but now, we have universities everywhere,” she added.

Erdogan inaugurates 1st Turkish national car plant

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday inaugurated the long-anticipated massive manufacturing plant that will be building Turkiye’s first domestic car brand, Togg.

The Turkish public witnessed another milestone on Saturday, as the opening ceremony in the northwestern province of Bursa, coinciding with the 99th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, marked the official start of the mass production for the car that is expected to hit the road by the end of 2023’s first quarter.

The event, which has also seen Togg’s first all-electric SUV being rolled off the assembly line with President Erdogan in the driver’s seat, puts Turkiye and President Erdogan closer to fulfilling a long-held dream of building the country’s first national automobile.

The Turkish leader has long pushed industrialists to build a domestic automobile as part of his vision for making Turkiye an economic powerhouse.

“We are witnessing fulfillment of 60-year dream into reality… Wherever you go you can see Turkish brands… Togg will grace the roads of many countries around the globe as well, as a prestigious Turkish brand,” Erdogan said.

“Everyone is wondering when Togg will grace the roads… We will see Togg on our roads at the end of the 1st quarter of 2023,” he announced. “Our citizens will be able to pre-order Togg models near the end of February… (At which point) the pricing will also be announced.”

The vehicle is being produced by a consortium of five Turkish companies called the Automobile Initiative Group of Turkiye, or Togg, in cooperation with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkiye (TOBB).

Construction of Togg’s engineering, design and production facilities began in mid-2020, almost two years after President Erdogan unveiled the consortium, which is led by former tech-giant Bosch executive Mehmet Gurcan Karakas.

The plant has been built on an area of 1.2 million square meters (12.92 million square feet) in Bursa’s Gemlik district.

Bursa is dubbed the country’s automotive capital as it is home to manufacturing facilities of many foreign brands, including the Turkish-French joint venture Oyak Renault and Tofaş, a joint venture of Turkiye’s Koç Holding and Italian-American carmaker Fiat Chrysler.

In December 2019, Erdoğan unveiled SUV and sedan prototypes of Togg, both fully electric and C-segment models.

The SUV is expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2023 and will be the first electric sport utility vehicle produced in continental Europe by a nontraditional manufacturer.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the inauguration of the plant for Turkiye’s first national automobile, Bursa, Turkiye, Oct. 29, 2022. (AA Photo)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the inauguration of the plant for Turkiye’s first national automobile, Bursa, Turkiye, Oct. 29, 2022. (AA Photo)

Togg will be manufacturing five different models – SUV, sedan, C-hatchback, B-SUV and B-MPV – through 2030. Mass production of the SUV will be followed by the sedan.

The brand aims to produce 1 million vehicles across five different segments by 2030.

The car was designed by Italy’s Pininfarina design company, which has created models for Ferrari and California-based electric carmaker Karma.

Togg has opted for advanced lithium-ion battery technology company Farasis as its business partner for the battery. The homegrown car is expected to reach 80% charge in under 30 minutes with fast charging. It will have a range of between 300 kilometers to 500 kilometers (186 miles to 310 miles).

The track tests showed it will take the car about 7.6 seconds to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h with 200 horsepower, and under 4.8 seconds with a 400-horsepower engine.

The Togg consortium is Turkiye’s second effort to produce a Turkish-made automobile. During the 1960s, a group of Turkish engineers built prototypes of a car called Devrim, or Revolution in English. The project was later abandoned.