Speech Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal on the occasion of the Commemoration Ceremony for Colonel Atilla Altıkat and Fallen Diplomats

Selçuk Ünal 27.08.2016

Honourable Senators and Members of Parliament,

Excellences, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Army,

Members of the Turkish-Canadian community,


I want to thank all of you for joining us for the commemoration of fallen diplomats who lost their lives while serving their countries abroad and particularly Colonel Atilla Altıkat, Military Attaché of the Turkish Embassy who was assassinated 34 years ago on this very spot by an Armenian terror organisation ASALA.

Unfortunately, over the past three decades we have witnessed an increase in the violence and terrorism in all forms also targeting diplomats. That is why, we believe it is even more important to continuously condemn terrorism in all its forms, on every occasion.

Dear Friends,

It is a tragic irony for diplomats to be targeted by terrorism. Because our main responsibility is to preserve and promote peaceful relations between countries and nations. Colonel Altıkat was one of more than 40 Turkish diplomats whose lives were taken by terrorism in a series of planned attacks between 1973 and 1986 in different countries. However, it was the first of its kind in Canada, which took life of a foreign diplomatic representative. It was not only against a Turkish diplomat, but also against all Canadian values.

We condemn and deeply regret that the planners and murderers are still at large.

Unfortunately, it was not the only attack towards Turkish diplomats in Canada. Today we also remember our Commercial Counsellor Kani Güngör, who was paralyzed after being shot in front of his house in 1982 and our Embassy personnel, including the family of the Ambassador who were held hostage when our Embassy was ambushed in 1985 where a Canadian security guard, Claude Brunelle, was murdered. Those attacks stopped only after a foiled attempt against the Toronto metro.

The unveiling of this monument, and the commemoration ceremony in September 2013, unfortunately, coincided with another tragic event – ayoung bright Canadian diplomat Annemarie Desloges killed by Al-Shabab terrorists in the shopping mall attacks in Kenya, a day before the ceremony. Since then, this monument and this ceremony have gained another dimension for all of us. Her family was not able to join us today since they have been out of town. We always remember the cherished memories of Annemarie whenever we gather here.

We also would like to show our solidarity with all the countries who have lost diplomats in attacks all around the world. To name just a few; the unfortunate losses of Glyn Berry in Afghanistan in 2006, the US Ambassador and members of the US Embassy in Benghazi in September 2012, the UN diplomat who was killed at the hotel attack in Mogadishu in March 2015 are some of them. And the 22 UN aid workers who were killed by a bomb attack at the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. As you know, that day was declared as the World Humanitarian Day by the UN General Assembly in memory of those 22 who were there only to save lives.

There is unfortunately a long list. They all made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries as a public servant, a diplomat, an international officer in pursuit of peace. We will remember them.

Dear Friends,

The terrorist attacks took many lives and injured hundreds of others during the past year in France, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, US, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and other parts of the world. A recent terror attack in Gaziantep, Turkey which was carried out by a 14 year old child who was deceived by DAESH, targeted a wedding ceremony and took lives of more than 50 people.

Availing of this opportunity, I express my condolences and deepest respect to all those who lost their lives in terror attacks. These attacks by DAESH and PKK, which target the values of democracy and peace, can never reach their goal as long as we stand together.

Turkey faced another terror attack last month. A group infiltrated into the military, the police forces and other government institutions, attacked the freely elected parliament and government. This coup attempt by Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETO) not only targeted the Constitution, but all Turkish citizens. On thisoccasion, I also pay our deepest respect to the memories of 246 Turkish citizens who were killed and 2,200 wounded to defend democracy.

Dear Friends,

We wish that this monument will stand from here to eternity for peace and friendship. It is a relief for us to commemorate this day with the attendance of a larger community every year.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to the National Capital Commission, the Turkish Canadian community of Ottawa and Montreal, in particular the Council of Turkish Canadians who organized this commemoration, our Turkish and Canadian friends for their efforts to bring this monument into life. Sincere thanks also go to the Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Army. Thank you.

I now would also like to say a few words in Turkish to our fellow Turkish Canadians.

Değerli Vatandaşlarım,

Askeri Ataşemiz Albay Atilla Altıkat’ı, ülkemize yönelik haince terör saldırılarının arttığı bir dönemde, bir kez daha saygıyla anıyoruz. Hepimiz bu törenin gerçek anlamını biliyoruz. Şehit Albayımızın ve görevleri başında hayatını kaybeden tüm şehitlerimizin aziz hatıralarının yaşatıldığını görmekten şeref duyuyoruz. Zira, şehitlerimiz için en büyük acı, yaptıkları fedakârlıkların unutulması olacaktır.

Bugün burada Şehit Albayımız Atilla Altıkat ve son aylarda ülkemizde şehit olan, başta güvenlik görevlilerimiz olmak üzere, tüm vatandaşlarımızı da anarken terörü lanetliyoruz. 15 Temmuz gecesi Fethullah Gülen Terör Örgütü mensuplarının düzenledikleri kanlı darbe teşebbüsü sırasında şehit olan ve yaralanan aziz vatandaşlarımızı da bu vesileyle saygıyla anıyoruz. Terörün acısını bugünlerde derinden hisseden bir milletin fertleri olarak, terörle omuz omuza mücadele ederek başarıya ulaşacağız.

Bu vesileyle, bugün Kanada’nın farklı şehirlerinden buraya gelerek şehidimizin şahsında tüm şehitlerimizin aziz hatırasına sahip çıkan tüm yurttaşlarımıza içten saygı ve teşekkürlerimizi sunuyorum. Albay Atilla Altıkat olmak üzere tüm şehitlerimize Allah’tan rahmet diliyor, aziz hatıraları önünde bir kez daha minnet ve hürmetle eğiliyoruz. Teşekkür ederim.

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