Opening Remarks by Ambassador Selçuk Ünal at the Troy War Epic Show staged at the Earl of March Secondary School
Thank you very much for having us here today. It is a great pleasure to be with you.
Troy is an ancient city, a historic place embracing the cultural treasures of the east and the west, brought to life by the ancient epics. With over five thousand years of timeless history, it has been an inspiration for literature and thus gained immortality by its features on power, victory, war and love.
It is one of the 16 cultural heritages of Turkey in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. Troy is situated some 30 kms from Çanakkale, northwest of Turkey, at the famous straits connecting two continents known as the Dardanelles. The history of the city goes back to 5000 BC (Late Neolithic Age).
It is not famous only because of its archeological findings, but also due to the "Iliad" of Homer - famous poet from Izmir, Anatolia-Turkey. The first excavation has started in 1871 by the German Professor Schliemann who caused a lot of damage during the excavation. He also illegally smuggled the findings to Germany.
After the Second World War, it took some years for the Soviet Union to admit that the Troy treasures were taken to Moscow as war bounty. There were other Troy pieces smuggled out illegally and today are dispersed among 50 different museums. In accordance with the UNESCO principle - which stipulates that "every historic treasure should remain in its native country", Turkey is still in a constant effort to take back its cultural heritage, the Troy treasures back to where they were born, and where a Trojan Horse is still there.
Due to the importance attached to protect this cultural heritage, Turkey has declared 2018 as "The Year of Troy" on the occasion of the 20th year anniversary of its recognition by UNESCO.There will be many cultural events, academic conferences and exhibitions to be held in Turkey and overseas on Troy.
Historically, it has always been a very strategic passage point between east and west, north and south. Because of its strategic location, it has once again became a theatre of war - this time in 1915. The area also known as Gallipoli, faced a big naval and land invasion of the Allied forces to push through, then occupy Istanbul - the capital of the Ottoman Empire - and connect with Russia who was in great difficulty. The Newfoundland Regiment, the only participating unit from north America to the Gallipoli Campaign, showed bravery like all other combatants. It was a war where commanders like Mustafa Kemal asked his unit "I am not ordering you to attack, I am ordering you to die. In the time that will pass, there will be others filling in our trenches." Maybe the civilizations followed the Trojan War could not draw the necessary lesson of peace from wars throughout centuries. However, it was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the same commander that led the Turkish forces in Çanakkale and then the first President of the Republic of Turkey who underlined this message of peace.
The Year of Troy will be another opportunity for all to underline the message of peace, harmony and cultural interaction.
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