Remarks By H.E. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal On International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January 2015, Ottawa City Hall)

Selçuk Ünal 27.01.2015

The Honourable Holocaust Survivors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we mourn millions of Jews and other minorities, who were murdered during the Nazi regime. The Holocaust is the most incomparable, unique crime perpetrated against humanity. 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz–Birkenau which represented unparalleled vision that denied a common humanity and global intent to all non-members of the “master-race”, we remember those men, women and children who were sent to death just for being Jewish.

Turkish Government is represented today by H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the commemoration in Auschwitz. The commemoration of the
Turkish Jewish community in Turkey is being held in the presence of H.E. Speaker
of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Mr. Cemil Çiçek in a university in
Ankara. Speaker of the Turkish Parliament also attended the Holocaust
commemoration activities held by the Czech Parliament in cooperation with the
European Parliament yesterday in Prague.

During the Second War, many Turkish citizens in Europe, most of whom of
Jewish origin, also lost their lives in concentration camps. Some Turks in the
Balkans were mixed with them in their march to death. Today, we also remember
the memory of the Turkish diplomats who served in many European countries during
that dark period. While many countries were dispatching hundreds of thousands to
extermination camps or simply refusing them entry, Turkish diplomats risked
their lives, and of their families, to save not only our citizens of Jewish
origin, but also many other Jews in Europe from the Holocaust. Taking their
respectable place in Yad Vashem, we remember them with honour.

But this was not extraordinary for us. Because Turkish territories have
traditionally been a land that offered a safe haven to many people irrespective
of religion, ethnicity and language throughout history. This tradition having
its roots in the 15th century with the Sephardic Jews fled from Europe to
Turkey, continues today with millions of Syrians. And of course, Jews including
German and Austrian scientists escaping from Nazism to Turkey were no exception.

With this commemoration, we also condemn all kinds of practices of
intolerance and violence against individuals or communities based on their
religious beliefs and ethnicity, no matter where they are perpetrated. This
commemoration should raise consciousness particularly among the young
generations about the Holocaust and crimes against humanity. We see all the
necessity to remember the Holocaust to face the challenges of today:
intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Contributions of Turkey in “International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
(IHRA)” as the only Muslim country represented and as an active observer since
2008 will further continue. We carry out a number of activities aimed at raising
awareness about the Holocaust and we reinforce our efforts in this direction
with a variety of educational activities. Therefore, I would also like to
underline the importance of continuing to work together to leave a better and
peaceful world to the next generations.

Turkey will resolutely pursue its principled stance on the prevention of
racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the future as it has done
until now.

I once again respectfully commemorate all victims of the Holocaust.

Thank you.


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