Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu penned an article for Karar Daily on the 97th anniversary of the Republic, “heading for the centennial of the Republic, we must build up a Turkey that we will be highly proud of. We must set out for the path with ‘a New Enlightenment Period’ spirit; Turkey is ready for this. Fully independent Turkey means not only a Turkey that enlightens itself but also contributes to the rest of the world; a country which the whole world is content to have as a part.”

Today we are celebrating the 97th anniversary of the Republic which will soon have its centennial. Our Republic will enter its second century. With its good days and bad ones, the century we have experienced will be evaluated. More importantly, with the lessons learned from the first century the second century will be designed. It was the leader of Republican People’s Party CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu who had announced “Second Century Call Manifesto” declaring the arguments for the second century of the Republic to the people.
While listening to him at the general congress, I had started thinking; how should we pave the way for the second century? What kind of a country, what kind of a society will we be on the path to 2123?

PLANNING TOMORROW, STARTS FROM TODAY

Then we should start by looking at today. The global pandemic continues its impact. No one can tell how long the pandemic will continue with certainty today yet. Many experts believe that this pandemic is the messenger of a change of order. Perhaps they are not wrong. The economic crisis that started in 1873 and lasted for 23 years is cited as one of the reasons of the First World War. Similarly the 1929 Great Depression caused the Second World War…
So, would this pandemic lead to a similar result?
What would Turkey do if it did?
I personally see Turkey as the luckiest of countries whether it is a global crisis or local one. We are lucky because we have a guide whose light continues to enlighten our path even after a century.

THAT GUIDE: MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATÜRK

Our main goal on the way to the second century should be to follow his light. It must be to ensure our absolute full independence as a country, this is important. Full independence for some might mean an excluded country that has only limited relations with the rest of the world. However, a fully independent Turkey means a Turkey that enlightens itself but also contributes to the rest of the world; a country which the whole world is content to have as a part.
From industry to technology, from agriculture to space race a national entity that is integrated with the rest of the world; I mean empowering a solidarist mentality on the side of the people, I am speaking of a true people’s sovereignty not a pseudo sovereignty. I am speaking of the ballot box which is an incredibly significant part of democracy but not the sole meaning of it. I am speaking of re-establishment of the national sovereignty, which was the basis of Turkish Grand National Assembly, the decision making center even during the time of Independence War.
On the way to the second century, we must establish a Turkey we will be incredibly proud of. We must establish a Turkey in which the journalists are not imprisoned, television screens are not darkened with one order, thought is not considered a crime, a Turkey that has separation of powers, that enriches its region with a strong secular mentality, that does not sacrifice its workers, pensioners, public officers to wild markets, a Turkey that assumes the cunning diplomatic maneuvers like Atatürk did, not giving up on its rights; instead of the ‘brute’ foreign policy that changes on a daily basis and contradicts itself. From Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits to the province of Hatay joining the motherland, there are many practices inherited from Atatürk to us today.
We only need to ‘want to see’.
We are now the individuals who must shoulder a significant responsibility to write a new history, looking at all these experiences. From antiquity to today there are critical thresholds for the struggle of enlightenment in these lands. Those days have come now. Even writing ‘2023-2123 Period’ makes one feel the gravity of our responsibilities. Our responsibility is great because we will be designing the life of future generations too. If we are losing the very well trained youth for obvious reasons to other countries, our duty will be much harder. We will open the way for a productive youth that keeps developing, and a youth that designs new generation innovations; we must open the way for them. We must never forget that the youth is dedicated to their rights and liberties. They do not like pressure and prohibitions. To encourage them for creative productivity will not be possible only through constructing modern-technological buildings or enable them in earning ‘a good wage’. We must give the youth a country where they can actualize themselves and live their ideals freely. For a youth not working as a ‘semi-skilled worker’ but as the ‘essential laborer’, not as the contractors but as producers for the world…
To develop a path for a hundred years… We must set out for the path with ‘a New Enlightenment Period’ spirit, with an integrated working model, working very hard based on the goal-oriented rules. Turkey is ready for this, the nation is ready. We can do this with our 83 million people, united to be the heroes of 2023-2123, we must achieve this. We have no other choice…
We will succeed together, and we must believe ‘everything is going to be alright’.
 
 
Translated by Gürkan Özturan.