Delivered on March 20th, 2015 at ATA Alliance ANZAC Centenary Dinner

ANZAC Centenary Dinner

“Celebrating 100 Years of Friendship”

Delighted to be joining you this evening at this ANZAC Centenary dinner, organised by the Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance.

2015 is a special year for our three countries.

In April 1915, Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the shores of Gallipoli, to fight a people we knew little of and with whom we had no real quarrel.

From the cauldron of war, an historical and unshakeable bond between our three countries was forged.

But Gallipoli has significance for both New Zealand and Australia in other senses too. It was in Gallipoli that our young nations began to become of age.

It was from here that we began to think of ourselves as not just servants of the British Empire, but as distinct national entities. Out of catastrophe, both our nations emerged with a new sense of certainty about our own destiny and our place in the world.

It was in Gallipoli that the special Anzac bond between New Zealanders and Australians was first forged, as we clung to that small peninsula far from home. These days our soldiers serve together in the cause of peace across the globe.

Our government’s recent decision to contribute to training Iraqi Security Forces was taken in close consultation with Australia, and reflects our two countries’ determination to contribute to the international fight against terrorism.

For Turkey, too, Gallipoli was a turning point. The invasion was repelled, albeit at great cost to human life. The commander responsible for the defence of Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was to rise within a few short years to be the founding President of modern Turkey. His legacy to his people has been immense.

This year our two Prime Ministers will lead official delegations to the centenary commemorations of the ANZAC landings in Gallipoli, Turkey. They will join over 10,000 Australians and New Zealanders, remembering and honouring our citizens who have served and died, not just at Gallipoli, but in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

We are extremely grateful to the Turkish government for the resources it commits every year to hosting of the thousands of Australians and New Zealanders that travel to Turkey, and to Anzac Day, each year. We are working together to ensure that the centenary commemorations are undertaken safely, and with respect for the fallen.

But at heart of the relationship is one between peoples. Gallipoli demonstrates how – even in the face of death and disaster – courage, honour and respect between adversaries can provide a foundation for reconciliation and true friendship.

In New Zealand, as in Australia, we will never forget Atatürk’s famous message of reconciliation to us after the war:

“You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom, and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

One hundred years after Gallipoli, those words retain their poignancy and importance for us today.

by Hon Todd McClay
Associate Minister  for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand