After Parliament passed legislation last week awarding the southeastern city of Şanlıurfa the Medal of Independence for the bravery and heroism shown during the Turkish War of Independence from 1919 to 1923, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced during the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting on April 5 that the Cabinet meeting, slated for Monday, will convene in Şanlıurfa. Monday's Cabinet meeting is considered highly significant because it will be held outside of Ankara for the first time in 13 years and the Medal of Independence will be awarded. The prime minister is traveling to Şanlıurfa late Sunday night for a program that will include various meetings after the Cabinet meeting as well as the award ceremony.
The last Cabinet meeting held outside Ankara occurred on Sept. 4, 2003, when then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held the meeting in Sivas in honor of the anniversary of the Sivas Congress incident. The meeting marked the assembly of the Turkish National Movement that united delegates from all Anatolian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In this respect, Davutoğlu will be in Şanlıurfa on the anniversary of the province's independence.
On April 11, 1920, during the War of Independence, the military in the city of Urfa fought French soldiers trying to occupy the city. In 1984, Urfa was renamed Şanlı (Glorious), and later Urfa, in recognition of its heroism. Two other southeastern provinces were awarded the Medal of Independence in 1925 and 2008: Maraş, which was later named Kahramanmaraş (Heroic Maraş), and Antep, later named Gaziantep, a name that includes the honorific title "gazi" (war veteran) in honor of the soldiers.
The War of Independence was fought between Turkey and a long list of Allied Powers, including Greece on the western front, the U.S. to the east, France to the south and, along with the French, the U.K. and Italy in Istanbul. The war broke out after Turkey became occupied and partitioned following the Ottoman Empire's defeat in World War I.