A key turning point in Turkey's history

Published 10.07.2018 01:45

As time flows like a raging river, we tend to forget many a day's passing by. Other days, however, set the stage for great events that don't just impact one's own life but they represent a turning point in history, on which their future depends. Some of those days I will never forget.

When I was 8 years old, I heard the midday news on the radio at the coffeehouse on my way to school. It was May 1950. The top story of the day was the election of Celal Bayar as Turkey's third president. All of a sudden, the patrons at the coffeehouse stood up and started applauding the announcement.

Turkey's first civilian president was elected on one of those memorable days in my life. Over the course of the following years, I received news that President Celal Bayar was taken into custody by the Presidential Guard Regiment, which was supposed to protect him. I witnessed the execution of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and two members of his Cabinet in the aftermath of a coup d'état on May 27, 1960.

The following decades brought new military interventions, elections and faces to Turkish politics. Süleyman Demirel, Bülent Ecevit and Turgut Özal were some of our nation's most memorable leaders. In particular, it would be impossible for anyone to forget Turkey's transformation under President Özal, who opened up the country to the world and implemented key market reforms.

At the turn of the century, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) took the stage. Early on, there were times when we thought that this new movement was quite similar to those that came before it. Then came a closure case against Erdoğan's party, the so-called Republican rallies powered by the establishment, and a series of steps by Fetullah Gülen's terrorist group (FETÖ) to overthrow Turkey's democratically elected government.

The threat against our nation became crystal clear on the evening of July 15, 2016. Over the course of several hours, everything we thought we knew about Turkey's public institutions was proven wrong. It became clear that the Turkish Armed Forces, once hailed as a Kemalist stronghold, was under the influence of FETÖ. President Erdoğan's partnership with Devlet Bahçeli, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman, was born out of the Democracy Rally in Yenikapı, Istanbul in August 2016 and evolved into the People's Alliance ahead of the June 24 elections. Step by step, Turkey got where it is today with determination, sacrifice and hard work.

Yesterday was a day that will be etched in our memories. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who took the oath of office and attended a historic inauguration ceremony, will serve as Turkey's first head of state under the presidential system. July 9, 2018 will be remembered as one of the turning points in the decades that followed our republic's creation on Oct. 29, 1923.

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