“Inspired by our deep-rooted history and ancient values, we are endeavouring to prepare our Republic for its new century by further strengthening it” – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Edited by Anna Popper

The Republic of Türkiye, founded on 29 October 1923, marked its 100th anniversary, proclaimed by the great and visionary leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The centenary was celebrated with a grand and culturally rich diplomatic reception, organized by the Turkish Embassy in Budapest at the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts, which houses a temporary exhibition of Renoir’s works, at Heroes’ Square in Budapest. In honour of the historic occasion, the entire building was illuminated in the colours of the Turkish flag, creating a visually stunning and symbolic atmosphere.

The festive event was attended by more than 700 guests, including high government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the cultural, business and academic life, mayors of Hungarian cities, Turkish nationals and friends of the country on two continents. The Guest of Honour was the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Péter Szijjártó.

The celebration started with the Turkish and Hungarian national anthems, performed by the student choir of Maarif International School in Budapest.

In her opening remarks, H.E. Ms. Gülşen Karanis Ekşioğlu, Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to Hungary, greeted the audience in Hungarian and said:

Honourable Foreign Minister, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends of Türkiye, welcome to our National Day Reception!

It is indeed a great honour to host you all on the centenary of the proclamation of the Republic of Türkiye. Today we feel a great sense of pride and joy. The founder and first President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, declared the Republic on 29 October 1923. And it is indeed a distinct privilege for all Turkish Ambassadors, including myself, around the world to celebrate our 100th anniversary.

Welcoming our friends here in Budapest, however, gives me a great pleasure. This is because Hungary is one of the few countries that made significant contributions to Türkiye’s development in the early Republican years. Just look closer to the long list of “firsts” in the early years of modern Türkiye and you will recognise the handwriting of Hungarian engineers, experts and academics. As young Türkiye prospered, Hungarians from different walks of life came at Atatürk’s invitation to design new buildings, set-up public institutions, construct factories, build farms, studs, and much more throughout the country.

Of course, we have come a long way in the last 100 years… We have one of the most stable and durable democracies in a volatile and turbulent region. We have one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We have young and dynamic population that is well-trained and highly skilled. Today, we all strive to surpass our achievements with a new “Century of Türkiye” vision elaborated by our President Erdoğan and realise Atatürk’s principle of “peace at home and peace in the world”.

Yet, we do remember the contributions of our Hungarian brothers and sisters during the early years of the Republic. Just as we still cherish the memories of the leaders of the Hungarian independence movement from the Ottoman era. If you visit Tekirdağ, İzmit or Kütahya, you will come across the footprints of Rákóczi Ferenc, Thököly Imre and Kossuth Lajos. As a matter of fact, today you walked past their statues in Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) on your way to our National Day Reception in this beautiful venue.

Our Hungarian friends did win our hearts and minds not only in the past. Most recently in February, during the devastating earthquakes in south-east Anatolia, they proved once again that “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. Hungarian search and rescue teams were among the first to rush to our rescue and the last to leave. We were all touched by the display of solidarity here in Hungary. Donations literally poured into our warehouse and our relief campaign.

We are grateful to Madame President Novák, Prime Minister Orbán and to you personally, Honourable Foreign Minister, for visiting us to express your solidarity and support at difficult times.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Turkish-Hungarian friendship, solidarity and cooperation is not an empty rhetoric, built on our past encounters. It is a living and evolving body of partnership. We have had a recent track record of high-level visits. So far in 2023, along with you, Honourable Minister and Madam President, we also hosted Prime Minister Orbán and other cabinet ministers in Türkiye.

On our side, our foreign ministers and almost half of the cabinet visiting Budapest. We also had some high-level military visits, including at the level of the Chiefs of General Staff and force commanders. For November only, we are working on the visits of the Turkish Ministers of Defence and Industry and Technology as well as the first meeting of the newly-established Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) in İstanbul.

In August, President Erdoğan was here to attend the celebrations of the State Foundation Day and the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. And he will be here again soon in December, when we will have the “High-Level Strategic Council” meeting and upgrade our relations to the level of an “enhanced strategic partnership”. Given the current depth and breadth of Turkish-Hungarian relations, such an upgrade was long overdue. “Enhanced strategic partnership” means widening the scope of our collaboration, while focusing on carefully selected areas of high significance, including trade, energy and defence industries.

Speaking of trade, we are proud of more than 500 Turkish companies operating in Hungary to reach our joint target of a trade volume of $6 billion. We are also proud that they are building new production lines for global giants here in Hungary. Let me also take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Turkish businesses for their strong support at our National Day Reception.

We have specifically scheduled President Erdoğan’s visit for 18th December. Because on the very same day in 1923, our two countries signed the Friendship and Cooperation Agreement. It was the first agreement that Türkiye signed after the proclamation of the Republic. As such, it signifies the Centenary of Diplomatic Relations between our two countries. We will commemorate this joyous occasion with the opening of the “2024 Year of Culture between Türkiye and Hungary”. 

Next year you will hear more of us and the Turkish culture here in Budapest and throughout Hungary. We would like to celebrate the centenary with special events that would span the entire year. We plan to organize “100 events for the 100th anniversary” and the closing event will be held in Ankara at the end of 2024.

Honourable Minister, Dear Friends of Türkiye,

Recently I made use of a particular expression to describe our relations and allow me to elaborate on it here too:

We consider Hungary as a distant relative; maybe not so close in terms of lineage, but definitely among the fondest family members in terms of our feelings towards one another. An example of this is our strong collaboration in the Organization of Turkic States.

We consider Hungary as a neighbour; we might not share a common border, but we share similar perspectives on issues of mutual concern in our neighbourhood. One example is Turkish and Hungarian police patrolling the borders together against irregular migration.

We consider Hungary as an eternal partner; maybe not so much when we were separated by the Iron Curtain, but we have generally managed to stand together. It does not mean that we always see eye-to-eye on all issues. But the bottom line is, when our analyses converge and interests align, we choose to join forces.

Thank you, Honourable Minister, for being with us on this special occasion. In your presence today as well as that of all our guests, we also pay our respects to Atatürk and his comrades-in-arms who fought for the independence of the Turkish nation. We are eternally grateful to all our ancestors who also contributed to our homeland over the last century.

Happy 100th Anniversary!

In his address, Minister Szijjártó highlighted that global security today is at its worst since the Cold War, as evidenced by the fact that armed conflicts are occurring in more than 30 areas around the world. The biggest pressure on global security is the war in Ukraine and Israel, one in Hungary’s neighbourhood and the other in Europe. Hungary is committed to peace and diplomatic settlement of conflicts. “The conditions for making peace are better today than they will be tomorrow and worse than they were yesterday,” he underlined.

Hungary highly values those states that provide security and stability to entire regions. “And if there is a country that can be described in this way, it is Türkiye” he said. He praised Türkiye for being at the forefront of challenges facing the international community and recognised its substantial contributions to addressing irregular migration. He mentioned Türkiye’s pivotal role in initiatives such as the Black Sea Grain Corridor Agreement. The minister also touched on the issue of energy supply security, emphasizing that Hungary is highly dependent on the source of energy carriers and transport routes, and highlighted Türkiye’s crucial position in diversifying energy routes that are of great importance to Hungary. Within this context, he underscored that fostering Turkish-Hungarian cooperation is an eminent priority of Hungary’s foreign policy and stated that Turkish-Hungarian relations will be elevated to the level of “Enhanced Strategic Partnership” during the upcoming Turkish-Hungarian High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting on the 18th December in Budapest.

Additionally, Minister Szijjártó pointed out that next year will mark the Centenary of Diplomatic Relations between Türkiye and Hungary. This significant milestone will be celebrated through a series of diverse cultural activities, encapsulated within the broader framework of the 2024 Türkiye-Hungary Cultural Year.

Concluding the official part of the evening, it was a meaningful gesture to witness a musical performance by the renowned Turkish pianist and composer Sabri Tuluğ Tırpan, who played some parts of his musical “1923”, which holds historical and cultural significance related to the founding of the Republic.

The invitees enjoyed the reception offering a large selection of specialities from the Turkish gastronomy in the adjacent Romanesque Hall of the Museum.

The presentation of Turkish calligraphy gifts by Yıldırım Beyazıt Baylak, added a personal and artistic touch to the event. Calligraphy is an integral part of Turkish artistic heritage, and sharing it with the guests was a thoughtful way to showcase the cultural richness of Türkiye.

The Turkish Community in Hungary held a Group Art Exhibition at the Budapest Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Center, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic and showcasing the talent of various artists, providing visitors with an immersive experience.

Source: Embassy of the Republic of Türkiye in Budapest

Photos by the Embassy of the Republic of Türkiye and DPA