''Ayla'' Special Screening / Speech of the Ambassador

Selçuk ÜNAL 17.03.2018
Mr. Yusur Başer, Chairperson of the Turkey-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group, Member of Parliament from Yozgat,
Director General of the Canadian War Museum,
Ambassadors, Esteemed President of the NCC,
Councillors, Friends, Guests,

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of our diplomatic relations and the Turkish Martys Day (March 18) our Embassy has the pleasure to bring in the Turkish movie “Ayla” for a special screening in cooperation with the Canadian War Museum, Turkish Ministry of Culture, Turkish Airlines and of course the producer company Dijital Sanatlar (Digital Arts).

I would like to specially thank Mr. Başer, who is visiting Canada, for being our guest of honour not only for this occasion, but attending the March 18 commemorations herein Canada organised by our community.

2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Canada. Our relations started in the midst of the Second World War. However, relations have a longer history, including the Royal Newfoundland Regiment’s participation in the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War in 1915 where Turkish forces were commanded by Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who later has become the first President of the modern Republic of Turkey. The Gallipoli campaign has a significance for turning tragedies of the war into friendship between Turkey and the nations which took part in the campaign. It has also been true for Turkey and Canada, which have been close allies during the past 75 years within NATO.

In the Korean War, where Turkey played a key role, our two nations fought shoulder to shoulder for the first time and defended democratic ideals. The code name of the Turkish Brigade was the “North Star” (Kuzey Yıldızı – Şimal Yıldızı). The Turkish troop contribution and casualties was fourth after the US, UK and Canada. The Brigade at the end received the American Distinguished Unit Citation, the South Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the South Korean Order of Military Merit. A “blood brotherhood” was born between Turkey and South Korea. After the war, it was also an interesting coincidence that on September 21, 1951, NATO Council recommended NATO membership of Turkey herein Ottawa.

I will not talk about the movie. It talks about itself. However, I would like to underline a few points. It was the official candidate of Turkey in foreign language category in Oscar. It is totally based on a true story. It is about motherhood and fatherhood, friendship and unfortunately the ugly face of war. That is why, it earned a lot of prizes in several festivals and is still continuing. The main character in question, NCO Mr. Süleyman Dilbirliği, unfortunately has just passed away. However, he saw the movie. We have another Korea Veteran herein Canada. Mr. Vahe Bedrossian - known as Vahe Amca - who is residing in Toronto. So far, he attended all our Victory Day celebrations driving from Toronto to here. He was able to attend to a special screening of “Ayla” at the margins of TIFF. I called him the other day. He sends his greetings to you all.

I just would like to thank all the sponsors and stake holders including the Canadian War Museum who participated in this effort. Speaking of the sponsors, I would like to make another announcement. You all have heard about the ancient city of Troy. It is a historic place embracing the cultural treasures of east and west. With over five thousand years of history, it has been an inspiration for literature and gained immortality by its features on war and love. It is one of the 16 cultural heritages of Turkey at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. It is not famous only because of its archeological findings, but also due to the "Iliad" of Homer - famous poet from Anatolia, Turkey. 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 including Ottawa, Toronto and St Johns’, Newfoundland. That is why, before viewing this amazing humanitarian story, we showed a short trailer about the Year of Troy at the reception.

Bu anlamlı gün vesilesiyle sadece Kore şehitlerimizi değil, Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ve silah arkadaşları, 15 Temmuz hain darbe girişimi ve Zeytin Dalı Harekatı’nda şehit olanlar dahil tüm şehit ve gazilerimizin aziz hatırası önünde bir kez daha hürmetle eğiliyoruz.

I now would like to invite Ms. Pınar Ercan representing the Digital Arts Company for her remarks.

Thank you.

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