Turks honour Gallipoli dead as passion for Ottoman past grows

Turks mark the Canakkale war on 100th anniversary, 2015

(Reuters) – Turkish jets flew overhead and warships cut through rough waters in the Dardanelles Straits on Wednesday to mark the centenary of one of the Ottoman Empire’s final victories, as fascination with the imperial past flourishes under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Record numbers of Turks have flocked to these headlands in recent years to pay homage to the defence of the Dardanelles during the Gallipoli campaign of World War One.

The area has long drawn visitors from Australia and New Zealand, whose ANZAC forces fought here under their own flags for the first time, and who honour their nations’ fallen in graveyards halfway around the world every April 25.

Turks mark what they call the Canakkale war on March 18, when Ottoman forces repelled an Allied assault on the Dardanelles — the sole maritime outlet for arch foe Russia — sinking a French battleship and destroying British warships.

“The fates of many peoples were determined in this strait, on this soil, but none more so than our fate as an empire collapsed,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a crowd of officials, soldiers and veterans from later Turkish conflicts as winds whipped the tip of the peninsula.

“Our people fought shoulder to shoulder on these sacred lands to protect the heart of the people and the state. A hundred years later the Turkish state stands against those who seek to divide our people”…

Related: Turkish PM says brotherhood key legacy of Gallipoli on 100th anniversary

Don’t forget that by allying with Germany in WW I the Ottomans lost the war. This is an attempt to put a positive spin on a disastrous defeat.  

Note the reference to ‘those who seek to divide our people’ — no doubt more about Gülen, ‘interest rate lobby’ and other alleged conspiracies.