Turkish Ambassador Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Türkiye Republic and Deepens Bilateral Ties with Sri Lanka

Turkish Airlines started its direct flights between Istanbul & Colombo
Turkish Airlines started its direct flights between Istanbul & Colombo

The Turkish Ambassador to Sri Lanka, R. Demet Şekercioğlu, celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Türkiye with a remarkable speech, highlighting the historical significance of this milestone. The celebration also coincided with the 75th year of Sri Lanka’s independence, making it a significant moment for both nations.

In her address, Ambassador Şekercioğlu emphasized the visionary leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded the Republic of Türkiye a century ago and laid the groundwork for a strong, democratic, and modern nation. Contrary to common misconceptions, Atatürk’s goal was not to imitate Western civilization but to create a unique and progressive state while preserving Turkish heritage.

Türkiye has achieved remarkable progress in the past century, becoming a member of the G20, the second-largest army in NATO, and establishing a robust national defense industry. It has also emerged as an energy hub and a humanitarian leader, providing shelter to millions of refugees and offering generous humanitarian aid.

The ambassador highlighted Türkiye’s commitment to its founding principle of “Peace at home, Peace in the world,” as the nation works tirelessly to resolve crises, establish peace, cooperation, and shared prosperity in the region and beyond. Türkiye plays a crucial role in finding peaceful solutions to conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, as well as addressing atrocities in Palestine.

Additionally, Türkiye is actively engaging in international diplomacy through its “Asia Anew” initiative to strengthen ties with Asian countries, building upon its historical relations with many nations.

Ambassador Şekercioğlu also noted the historic relationship between Türkiye and Sri Lanka, which predates diplomatic ties established in 1864. Türkiye was among the first countries to recognize Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948. 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of the Turkish Embassy’s presence in Colombo and Turkish Airlines’ flights connecting Istanbul and Colombo, which have now become direct, further enhancing bilateral ties.

On this momentous occasion, Turkish Airlines’ inaugural direct flight to Colombo landed in Sri Lanka, a development expected to significantly boost tourism and enhance economic relations between the two nations.

As Türkiye celebrates its “Türkiye Century,” Ambassador Şekercioğlu expressed her confidence that the strong people-to-people ties between Türkiye and Sri Lanka will continue to prosper, reflecting the resilience and support exhibited during challenging times, such as the earthquake that struck Türkiye earlier this year.

Full Speech

Address by Ambassador R. Demet Şekercioğlu on the occasion of the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Türkiye

Hon. Chief Guest Wijedasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms (Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka)

Hon. Guest of Honor Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Education and President of the Sri Lanka-Türkiye Interparliamentary Friendship Association

Esteemed Dignitaries, Honorable Ministers, Parliament Members,

Excellencies, Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Kıymetli Vatandaşlarım,

Ayubowan, Vanakkam, Good Evening, İyi akşamlar,

It gives me immense pride and honor to welcome you all tonight, to celebrate a monumental milestone in the history of modern Türkiye.

A hundred years ago, on 29 October 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish War of Liberation, surrounded by his comrades and parliament members, proclaimed the Republic, declaring that “the sovereignty unconditionally belongs to the nation.”

Through his visionary reforms, the military genius who also proved to be an exceptional statesman laid the foundations for a strong Republic, which a century later emerges as a pillar of strength and stability in a turbulent region.

Contrary to popular belief, Atatürk did not seek to replicate Western civilization but to build a strong democratic, secular, and modern state while preserving the unique character of the Turkish nation.

Today, Türkiye:

  • Is counted among G20 countries.
  • Emerges as the second-largest army of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Has built a strong national defense industry.
  • Steadily becomes an energy hub.
  • Provides shelter to millions fleeing war-affected regions.
  • Stands as the most generous country in terms of humanitarian aid compared to her GDP.

In brief, Türkiye pursues an enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy in line with her founding principle, “Peace at home, Peace in the world,” in order to resolve crises, establish peace, stability, cooperation, and share prosperity in her region and beyond.

She tirelessly works to find peaceful solutions to the wars in Syria and Ukraine and spares no effort to stop the unprecedented atrocities in Palestine.

While consolidating her strategic locations around the world, Türkiye, through her “Asia Anew” initiative, also looks forward to strengthening her cooperation with Asian countries, many of which she has historical relations with.

In fact, it is well-known that relations between Turks and Sri Lankans go back long before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Ottoman Empire and Ceylon in 1864 when the First Honorary Consul of the Ottoman Empire was appointed in Colombo.

Later on, the young Republic of Türkiye was among the first countries to recognize the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948.

So, 2023 is not just a year individually important for Türkiye and Sri Lanka, as we respectively celebrate the centenary of the Republic of Türkiye and the 75th year of the independence of Sri Lanka; it is also an important milestone in our bilateral relations.

Indeed, 2023 also marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of our Embassy in Colombo and the tenth anniversary of the launch of our national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines’ flights between Istanbul and Colombo with a stopover in Male.

On this historic occasion, I am proud to announce that Turkish Airlines’ first direct flight landed in Colombo this morning.

I am confident that this new arrangement will make a significant contribution to the Sri Lankan tourism market at a very crucial time and contribute to further developing our economic relations.

As we embrace the “Türkiye Century” I also firmly believe that our people-to-people ties, which have proven their strength by supporting each other during challenging times, most recently during the earthquake that struck Türkiye earlier this year, will continue to prosper in the years to come.

Long live Türkiye-Sri Lanka Friendship!


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