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29 October 2021, 16:04

98 years on: Founding of Turkish Republic


The Treaty of Lausanne, signed by Turkey on July 24, 1923, on one side, and Britain, France, Italy, Greece, and their allies on the other, recognized the modern Turkish state.

Two months later, on Oct. 13, the second term of the parliament, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, convened, and Ankara became the country's capital. Then the name of the current regime had to be given in all clarity and the head of the new state had to be elected.

Until the election of the head of the new state, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk executed the role of the presidency.

'Tomorrow we will declare a republic'

On the evening of Oct 28, 1923, Ataturk hosted a dinner attended by his colleagues Ismet Inonu, Ali Fuat Pasha, Halit Pasha, and Kemalettin Sami Pasha.

Ataturk's book Nutuk (The Great Speech) describes the dinner like so:

"During the meal, I said: 'Tomorrow we will declare a Republic.' The friends who were there immediately agreed with my thinking. We left the meal. From that moment on, I drew up a short program on how to act and assigned friends. You will see the implementation of the program I made and the instructions I gave."

'Long live the republic'

That night, Ataturk and Inonu prepared a draft law that changed some of the articles of the 1921 Constitution.

"After the speeches made in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on the bill containing the provision of the 'The form of government of the Turkish state is the republic' article, at 20.30, the proclamation of the Republic was accepted with the votes of all 158 members who attended the session. The proclamation of the Republic was greeted with applause and calls of 'Long live the republic'."

Then a vote took place in the assembly, and Ataturk was unanimously elected the first president of the Republic of Turkey.

In his victory speech, Ataturk said: "The Republic of Turkey will be happy, successful, and victorious."

The way to form a government was reorganized. Under the new parliamentary regime, the president would appoint the prime minister, who in turn would choose his ministers and submit them for the president's approval.

National holiday since 1925

While Inonu was assigned to form the first government, Fethi Okyar was elected parliament speaker.

The Turkish people celebrated the proclamation of the republic on the night of Oct. 29 as well as Oct. 30. Under a decree published on Oct. 26, 1924, it was decided to commemorate the proclamation of the republic with a 101-gun salute.

On Feb. 2, 1925, the Foreign Ministry proposed that Oct. 29 be a national holiday, and the next April parliament passed a law to this effect.

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