Speech Delivered By H.E. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal On The Occasion Of The Commemoration Ceremony For Colonel Atilla Altıkat And Fallen Diplomats (27 August 2015, Fallen Diplomats Memorial)
Honourable Senator Ann Cools,
Senators and Members of Parliament,
Associate Deputy Minister of Veteran Affairs Ms. Ellis,
Assistant Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Venner,
Acting Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Gwozdecky,
Fellow Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives of the Turkish-Canadian community,
Mr. Michel Desloges,
I want to thank all of you for joining us on this meaningful day and place.
33 years ago today Colonel Atilla Altıkat, Military Attaché of the Turkish
Embassy was assassinated by the Armenian terrorists at this very junction. It
was an act of terror. Unfortunately, our world still continues to be a scene to
terrorism and violence. We are once again gathered here to commemorate Colonel
Altıkat and all fallen Turkish and international diplomats who lost their lives
while serving their countries abroad as well as to condemn terrorism in all its
Terrorism is a menace to humanity. It does not differentiate its targets by
religion, ethnicity and geography. Likewise, it cannot be associated with any
religion, race or nationality. No one and no country is immune. So it needs to
be condemned without any “if”s and “but”s.
We diplomats live our lives in chapters. In many countries, we also become
target to terrorism although our main responsibility is
to preserve peace and be
a bridge between peoples. The terror attack which was the first of its kind in
Canada, took life of a foreign diplomatic representative. It closed the chapter
for him. It was not only against a Turkish diplomat, but also against all
Canadian values. It is regrettable that the killers and planners are still at
large. Justice is not done. That is why, we did not and we will not close his
Of course, it was not the first and last time a diplomat targeted by
terrorists. Colonel Altıkat was one of more than 40 Turkish diplomats whose
lives were taken by a coward terrorism in a series of planned attacks between
1973 and 1986. Everybody in Ottawa remembers our Commercial Counsellor Kani
Güngör paralized and died after attacked in 1982 and the Embassy ambush in 1985
where a Canadian guard Claude Brunelle was murdered. Actually in 1979 exactly
today, Turkish Airlines office in Frankfurt was bombed by the same groups.
The first anniversary of this monument, and the commemoration ceremony in
September 2013, unfortunately, coincided with another tragic event – a young
Canadian diplomat Annemarie Desloges killed in the shopping mall attacks in
Nairobi, Kenya, a day before the ceremony. Since then, this monument and
commemoration ceremony have gained another meaningful dimension for all of us.
We remember her dear memories whenever we gather here. That is why, I would like
to thank Mr. Michel Desloges, the father of Ms. Annemarie Desloges for being
here today. We have shared pains.
We share those pains with many. We would like to show our solidarity with all
the countries who have lost diplomats in attacks all around the world. To name a
few; the unfortunate losses of Glyn Berry who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006,
the US Ambassador and members of the US Embassy to Libya in Benghazi in
September 2012, the UN diplomat who was killed at the hotel attack in Mogadishu
in March 2015. Last week on August 19th, we remembered another tragic incident.
22 UN aid workers were killed by a bomb attack at the UN Headquarters in Baghdad
in 2003. 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.
All these and many others which I cannot count now, made the ultimate
sacrifice that a public servant, a diplomat, an international officer can do for
their country and values. Any recognition effort for their sacrifices will not
be enough to their memories. That is why, we shall remember them.
In such incidents, the victims, families and law enforcement agencies deserve
separate, but equal attention.
The esteemed spouse of Colonel Altıkat whom I spoke before organisation of
this ceremony kindly asked me to express her thanks to all present here
We know that there is great pain and emptiness in our life for our losses
that will never fade away. However, for a better future we should not feed any
animosity towards any nation or any person. We believe that souls of all fallen
diplomats and camaradie could be relieved if this monument stands for peace, not
for hatred. The only way to build a joint future is sharing all pains and paying
respect to all lost lives in history. Commemoration of the Gallipoli Campaign
after 100 years shows that we chose to confront our painful histories bravely,
while continuing to honour the memories of the fallen. We succeeded in turning
the tragedies of this war into a friendship among all those nations who never
forget the past, but embrace the future for peace. We can only bury hatred when
we mourn together for all of our sorrow, and cherish the memories of the ones
We also should be grateful to all who are trying to protect the public. Once
again our special thanks go to the brave Ottawa police officers Superintendent
Tyrus Cameron and Michelle Prudhomme who were the first reacting force in the
Embassy ambush on 12 March 1985 thus saving many innocent lives.
In the same vein, recent terrorist attacks that we have been encountering in
Turkey, show another face of this global issue. These terror attacks can never
reach their ultimate goal. This is not just a statement of rhetoric, but a
long-lasting determination to combat all forms of terrorism. Availing of this
opportunity, I express my condolences and respect to the members of all law
enforcement agencies who lost their lives by terrorist attacks.
We wish that this monument will be standing from here to eternity for peace
and friendship. We will 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, in particular the Council of Turkish Canadians, our
Turkish and Canadian friends who paid efforts to bring this monument into life.
I want to especially thank Özerdinç brothers for their valuable contribution to
construct this monument, to erect the plaque last year, and to have the monument
cleaned once again.
I would like conclude by paying my deepest respect to the noble memories of
all fallen diplomats and camaradie who sacrificed their lives in line of duty.
Allow me to say a few words in Turkish to our fellow Turkish Canadians.
Terörden en fazla etkilenen, acısını en derinden hisseden ve bugünlerde
maalesef bir kez daha bu acıyla yüzleşmek zorunda kalan bir milletin fertleri
olarak, hepimiz bu törenin gerçek anlamını biliyoruz.
Askeri Ataşemiz Albay Atilla Altıkat’ı ülkemizde ve bölgemizde bugün çeşitli
yüzleriyle görmekte olduğumuz haince bir terör saldırısında kaybetmiştik. Ancak
bizlere düşen, şehit Albayımızı ve görevleri başında hayatını kaybeden tüm
şehitlerimizi layıkıyla anmak ve aziz hatıralarını yaşatmaktır. Zira,
şehitlerimiz için en büyük acı yaptıkları fedakârlıkların unutulması olacaktır.
Bu nedenle yarın akşam “Turkish Association of Canada” adlı diğer derneğimizin
yapacağı düzenleme için de teşekkür ediyoruz.
Bugün burada Şehit Altıkat ve son günlerde ülkemizde hayatlarını kaybeden tüm
şehitlerimizi anarken terörün her türlüsünü şiddetle lanetliyoruz. Ancak bu
hiçbir zaman dostluk ve barışa olan inancımızı etkilemeyecektir. Terörün
beslendiği nefret ve düşmanlığı sona erdirmek amacıyla, birlikteliğimize ve aynı
paydada birleştiğimiz yüksek değerlere ısrarla ve sıkıca sarılmalıyız.
Bu vesileyle, bugün Kanada’nın farklı şehirlerinden buraya gelerek
şehidimizin şahsında tüm şehitlerimizin aziz hatırasına sahip çıkan tüm
yurttaşlarımıza içten saygı ve teşekkürlerimizi sunuyoruz. Çanakkale Zaferi’nin
100. yıldönümünün anıldığı bu yılda başta Albay Altıkat olmak üzere tüm
şehitlerimize Allah’tan rahmet diliyor, aziz hatıraları önünde bir kez daha
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