UPDATE – Erdogan marks 80th anniversary of Ataturk's demise

UPDATE WITH MESSAGE OF PARLIAMENT SPEAKER

By Kemal Karadag and Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu

ANKARA (AA) – The Turkish president on Friday commemorated the 80th death anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, "the founder of our republic".

In a commemorative message marking the day, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "Gazi [Veteran] Mustafa Kemal, who managed to unite our nation around a common ideal in the difficult path he took with endless confidence and belief in the nation, has crowned our war of independence with the foundation of our republic."

According to the president’s office, Erdogan said in his message: "While Turkey keeps on strengthening and growing in stability as we celebrate the 95th anniversary of our republic, we should never forget that our ancestors always overcame all obstacles for unity and solidarity, that they sustained the national and spiritual values under all circumstances, never gave up what they believed in and always protected their independence and future at the cost of their lives."

Parliament Speaker Binali Yildirim said in a message: "Turkish nation and republic is determined to walk on the path set by him and targets pinpointed by him, with a new government structure and thought."

He said that Ataturk was not only the leader of Turkey but all nations "that suffered exploitation by imperialism."

Ataturk was born in 1881 in Thessaloniki, in what was then the Ottoman Empire. He made his mark in the military in 1915 when he led forces to repel the allied invasion in Canakkale, known in the West as the Dardanelles.

Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the World War I, Ataturk led the Turkish War of Independence, which defeated European powers. When he became president, Ataturk transformed the former empire into a modern and secular country.

Ataturk passed away in Istanbul on Nov. 10, 1938, at the age of 57.

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