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Republic Day celebrated across Turkey amid COVID-19 pandemic

Republic Day celebrated across Turkey amid COVID-19 pandemic

This year’s celebration of Republic Day was unprecedented, but the fervor was still there. Across the country, streets were adorned with Turkish flags and ceremonies were held in every city and town on Thursday. Donning masks and respecting social distancing under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish public marked the 97th anniversary of the country’s declaration of sovereignty following its War of Independence.

Instead of crowded events, celebrations were limited to small-scale wreath-laying ceremonies and parades in memory of the republic’s founders, including Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the country’s first president and commander during the War of Independence.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accompanied by government ministers and opposition leaders, paid a visit to Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum, in the capital Ankara where he laid a wreath on the founder’s grave. Speaking before signing a guest book at the mausoleum, Erdoğan said in an address to Atatürk, “We commemorate your excellency, all heroes of our War of Independence and honorable martyrs.” The president went on to say that “internal and external attacks” to stop Turkey’s progress only strengthened their resolve for struggle and determination. “We will continue walking toward our shared future in unity, togetherness and fraternity by drawing courage from our glorious past full of victories,” he continued. Erdoğan wrote in the book that his administration is working hard for the progress of the republic “you entrusted to us,” along with: “Turkey today is achieving accomplishments in every field from democracy to freedoms, from defense to economy, from health to foreign policy.”

Erdoğan later hosted guests at the Presidential Complex for celebrations, from ministers to generals and ambassadors.

All across the country, local administrations organized concerts, light shows, parades and other events to mark the day.