Turkey marked the 96th anniversary of the first season of its Grand National Assembly on Saturday, also celebrating National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.
Senior politicians, including Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman, Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli, visited the mausoleum of the republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara.
“Our aim is to preserve our people’s independence, state’s sovereignty and move beyond level of contemporary civilization,” Kahraman wrote in the mausoleum’s memorial book.
In a statement, Davutoglu said: “Our independence struggle, which was conducted under the leadership of Gazi Mustafa Kemal, reached its goal with the opening of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the liberation of our country and the declaration of the republic.”
Davutoglu later received a group of children at Cankaya Palace, where they followed the annual tradition of taking the seats of Cabinet ministers.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also welcomed children to the presidential complex. "The most important national holiday was consigned to you," he told them.
The April 23 celebrations focus on children after Ataturk, the first speaker of the parliament, dedicated the day to children as the nations future.
The Grand National Assembly met for the first time in Ankara in 1920 during the War of Independence to lay the foundations for an independent, secular and modern republic.