On Sunday the 29th October, Turkey celebrated 100 years since the formation of its Republic.
But why is this day so important for the Turks and how did the once Ottoman Empire become the Republic of Turkey?
The Ottoman Empire had been in decline ever since it lost its territories in Africa and in the Balkans, in the late 19th century, and the various failed attempts at reforming the Empire.
Things aggravated in WWI when the Empire joined the Central Powers and entered the war against the UK, France and Russia, fighting on multiple fronts.
One of the most salient campaigns for the Ottomans, was the battle of Gallipoli, against the British, where they triumphed under the command of the great general Mustafa Kemal, who would later be known for the instauration of the Republic.
Despite the victory in Gallipoli, the other fronts were not doing so well. In the South, the British helped the Arabs to revolt against the Ottomans, where they promised independence and sovereignty to them ( although it was not what happened ), while in the Caucasus, Ismail Enver’s campaigns failed miserably.
Together with the defeats of the other Central Powers in WWI, the Ottoman Empire was subjected to heavy losses in terms of land under the treaty of Sèvres that Sultan Abdulhamid II had to abide by. At this point, the Sultan became a puppet in the hands of the Western powers.
The conditions of the treaty were not accepted by the Turkish people, who were angry at the Sultan for agreeing to such terms. He was seen as a traitor by his people and so came Mustafa Kemal, who managed to call for a national revolt against the treaty of Sèvres and the Sultan himself.
He was ready to risk being executed by the Sultan in order to save the Turkish integrity from its occupiers and therefore, the Turkish war of independence, a campaign of several battles, led by this ambitious and charismatic leader against Britain, France, Armenia and Greece, started.
Most of the adversaries were easily defeated by the Kemalist troops, however Greece was still experiencing huge wave of nationalism. Greeks sought to expand in the Anatolian peninsula and even wanted to make Constantinople its capital city, under the “Megali Idea”.
Mustafa Kemal would not allow for that to happen, and in the summer of 1922, he launched a huge scale attack against the Greek settlements in Anatolia and finally defeated them, in Izmir and Thrace.
Following this victory, in October 1923, the allied forces signed a treaty with Mustafa Kemal and the Sultan was forced to resign; the Ottoman Caliphate had been dissolved and the Turkish Republic was born.
Mustafa Kemal remained president of Turkey until his death, and his legacy and political reforms changed and modernised efficiently Turkish society, inspiring polititians of Turkey and filling the minds and hearts of the Turkish people to this very day.
10 years after his death, he was even given the nickname “Atatürk”, which means father of the Turks.
Cumhurivetin 100 ili kutlu olsun!
(Best wishes for 100 years of republic) to the Turkish people!