Turks and Australians in Melbourne gathered to remember the fallen Anzac troops of the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 at a memorial service on Sunday.
The event organized by the Victoria Returned and Services League (RSL) Turkey sub-branch marked the 103rd anniversary of the first landing by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops on the Gallipoli peninsula.
Former Defense Minister Kevin Andrews attended the ceremony to represent Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, while Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott, Turkey’s Consul General in Melbourne Mehmet Kucuksakalli, parliamentarians, businessmen, representatives of NGOs and citizens were also present.
“A wonderful relationship has developed out of conflict and war where people come together due to mutual respect,” Scott told Anadolu Agency during the program.
He added: “There is a deep respect for Turkish soldiers and Turkish people. And there is a deep respect for Australians and New Zealanders in Turkey.”
Ramazan Altintas, President for Victoria RSL Turkey sub-branch, said that their ancestors fought against each other “courageously” and performed their duty at Gallipoli.
“If we are eating at the same table here today with our Australian friends, it is because our martyrs and veterans have fought courageously in Gallipoli,” Altintas said.
The unsuccessful eight-month campaign saw more than 44,000 British, Irish, French, Australian, New Zealand, Indian and Canadian troops and nearly 87,000 Ottoman soldiers killed.
The day is commemorated in Australia and New Zealand as ANZAC Day and Gallipoli is seen as one of the defining events that ushered both countries towards nationhood.
The battle also forged links between Turkey, which emerged as a modern state shortly after the war, and the ANZAC countries.