Fall 2010, Issue#24
-BROCHURE (inside)
Highlights: Second Annual Ataturk Symposium - Ataturk: Leader of a Nation
" Ataturk: Leader of a Nation" United Nations, December 7, 2010
"Peace at home, peace in the worl

ertugrul_apakan mehvec_sonmez umut_uzer
Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, Permament Mission of Turkey to the United Nations
Mehves Sonmez, Program Director of the Second Annual Ataturk Symposium
Prof. Umut Uzer, Ph.D., Moderator, University of Utah
"There would be no Turkish state if Ataturk did not achieve what he accomplished”.

Highlights and Photos by:
Sirin CENGIZALP, Lightmillennium.Org

The Second Annual Atatürk Symposium, "Atatürk: Leader of a Nation" program's director Mehves Sonmez, and former president of Istanbul University Alumni Association of U.S.A., made a welcoming remark at the United Nations, Conference Room 2 on Tuesday, December 7, 2010, and thanked to each of the speakers of the symposium, namely to Prof. Arnold Reisman, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Ambassador Robert P. Finn, Former United States Ambassador to Afghanistan and Prof. Heath W. Lowry, Princeton University.

Then, Ms. Sonmez thanked to Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations for sponsoring the "symposium" at the United Nations. She also thanked to Young Turks Cultural Aid Society for co-organizing the Symposium with the Istanbul University Alumni Association of U.S.A., and also co-sponsors of the program. The symposium was moderated by Prof. Umut Uzer, University of Utah.

In her remarks, Ms. Sonmez described of Ataturk with these words, “Mustafa Kemal Ataturk an exceptional leader, and outstanding soldier, statesman and extraordinary political genius of the last century. His vision and his way of thinking were so far into the future that we can still feel his thoughts lighten our way ahead.” Ms. Sonmez stated that she hopes that this symposium will enrich our knowledge about the brilliant personality of the high human mind behind Ataturk’s philosophy and its effects on building the basis of modernization today and tomorrow.

"Ataturk was ahead of his time, therefore his influence has gone far beyond his life.."

Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan opened his speech emphasizing “there would be no Turkish state if Ataturk did not achieve what he accomplished”. He continued his speech by explaining how Ataturk got his name; the title, Ataturk, given to him by the Turkish parliament and it literally means “the father of the Turks”. And that’s why for the people of Turkey, Ataturk is much more than statesman. He represents our idol of independence, nation of unity, and modernity. In that sense, he has completely transformed our nation’s conscience leaving behind the reflexes of the old times and bringing the Turkish people to the light.

Ambassador Apakan shared his own comprehension of Ataturk with the attendees of the program as follow: "I picture Ataturk as a brilliant commander that successfully directed the struggle of his people against the occupation. I visualize a revolutionary and reformist who created a modern and secular republic from the ashes of an empire through far reaching social, political, economic and cultural reforms. I see a leader that gave equal rights and right to vote to women, at a time when this was unconceivable not only in developing countries but also in the entire world. I think a leader that after achieving full independence of his country wanted to make peace with his former enemies saying that the most important achievement in politics is peace at home and peace in the world. I imagine a progressive mind that wanted his people to catch up with modern civilization through the pursuit of knowledge and science. Ataturk was ahead of his time, therefore his influence has gone far beyond his life, and continues to guide our nation today. He has taught us many virtues such as perseverance, creativity, nationalism, peace and pursuit of happiness for our own people and others. Ataturk is the leader whose ideas took our nation to the 21st century."

During his presentation, Prof. Arnold Reisman (right) stated that there are more
women as professors in Turkey than there are in the United States.

- For brief biographies of the panelists

In the entire Arab Countries 10,000 books published in a millennia..
In Turkey, this was only achieved within 10 years (1940-1950)...

As the first panelists of the Second Annual Ataturk Symposium, Prof. Arnold Reisman, in his speech consentarated on the achievements of Ataturk such as introducing a language which is a new Turkish alphabet based on a Latin alphabet, and building up an education system, which is co-education, secular, and free. Prof. Reisman emphasized that according to the New York Times’ article of April 30th, 1928, it was the first time that any country change its alphabet. Before the new alphabet was introduced literacy in Turkey was less than 9%, and those who could read many of them did not understand what they were reading because that was because of the religious aspects of learning how to read. Later Prof. Reisman showed a book cover, which was one of the first books in Turkish that written by Latin alphabet, and focused on the cover picture of the book. The reason why he particularly focused on the cover picture was because it was the picture of a girl and a boy studying in the same classroom, which, according to Prof. Reisman, was symbol of modernity.

Somehow it became a patriotic duty for everyone to become literate, and as a result almost 600,000 adults, who were illiterate, learned how to read between 1928-29. One of the very important facts Prof. Reisman stated was, there are more women as professors in Turkey than there are in the United States. Interestingly enough Prof. Reisman raised the question of “What if Turkey didn’t change its alphabet and what if Turkey still has French as its second language?” In order to answer this question Prof. Reisman used the data of the countries where still Arabic alphabet is in use. As a result of the comparison it showed that if Turkey didn’t change its Arabic alphabet for sure Turkey would be less secular, less modern, and might have hard time to maintain a connection with the Western world.

Last but not least, in order to prove his point Prof. Reisman presented the data that in the years between 1940-50 there were 10,000 translations in Turkey while there were over all 10,000 translations during the last 1000 years in Arabic speaking countries.
For Prof. Reisman's full speeches in 4 parts, please click>

In Ambassador Robert P. Finn speech, he extensively focused on "Ataturk's World Vision", and his ideas do not belong only to Turkey and the young people of Turkey but to the world as a whole. Ataturk realized that being modernity does not mean to giving up our own personalities, and he underlined the fact that individuality would be preserve the universal communication, would not eliminate personal pride and national self sufficiency, but that in fact national pride contribute to universal communication. Mr. Finn also talked about the movement of Genc Kalemler (Young Pens), which was a leader in the modernization and simplification that started in Salonika. Along with this the presence of Jewish community in Salonika provided an opportunity for young Mustafa Kemal to experience the religious tolerance of the Ottoman Empire, which melted together many religions ‘ people. Later, Mr. Finn emphasized that Ataturk rejected Communism because he believed that Communism and other authority regimes deluded the people. Furthermore, Ataturk believed only democracy let administrations to bring together the necessary strength to protect the people from domestic and external pressures. For the full speech, please click>

Prof. Heath Lowry
presented an illustrated talking on Clarence K. Streit’s visit to Ankara and his meetings with Mustafa Kemal Pasa. During the speech Prof. Lowry showed photos from Streit’s book called Snapshots of Life in Anatolia (1921). The book includes photos from Streit’s visit to Turkey in order to meet with Mustafa Kemal. During his trip, Streit visited places like tobacco plant where he saw Greek, Turkish, and Armenian women were working together. According to Prof. Lowry, Streit says about his interview with Mustafa Kemal that, “I had been told that Mustafa Kemal didn’t like being interviewed and took the precautious of submitting him a list of 19 questions and his answers were written in French filled 9 type pages. Later he received me with Turkish hospitality and offered me cigarettes and coffee. I was surprised how easy to interview with him. He talked freely with me two hours and answered all my questions. Few men have impressed me as favorably as did this Turkish George Washington. He has a gift for quickly inspiring confidence in himself. He is the kind of man that man would die for. Physically he is handsome, his forehead shows his high intellectuality, and his mouth and chin shows that he is the man of an action and a fighter. He has the eyes of a dreamer who makes his dreams come true.”

Questions & Answers
ataturk_q_a ataturk_q_a2

Q: When was the law of Prohibition repealed?
A: (Heath Lowry) Probably, 1924. What happens is this; it was past when Mustafa Kemal was not the part of it. Interestingly enough not one voter who voted yes was elected to the parliament in 1924.

Q: What happened to the Central Asian republics in Soviet Union and when did they change their alphabet?
A: (Arnold Reisman) In the Soviet Republics where the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted and because of their educational system the literacy rate jumped very high to almost 98%.

Q: Would you please elaborate Village Institutes (Koy Enstituleri) and how it contributed to both Ataturk's vision and modernization and democratization of Turkey?
A: (Arnold Reisman) Village Institutes are created in order to provide education in every small town throughout the country. People were given freedom from serving in the military so they can go out and teach the kids. These Village Institutes taught not only how to read and write but they created things such as sculpture, sculpture of human beings that was totally unknown under the Ottomans because of religious prohibition.

ataturk_audience shalman_bunver
(Left) Attendees of the "Ataturk: Leader of a Nation" titled symposium, United Nations, December 7, 2010.
(Right) Seniha Halman (with glasses) and Bircan Unver, The Light Millennium.

Highlights and Photos by: Sirin CENGIZALP, Lightmillennium.Org

- For brief Biographies of the panelists

Full version of the speeches from the Symposium on the Lightmillennium.Org:
- Ataturk's World View, by Ambassador Robert P. FINN
- Some Current Ramifications of Turkey’s Alphabet Change in 1928, by Prof. Arnold REISMAN
- Some Current Ramifications of Turkey’s invoking English as the second language by Prof. Arnold REISMAN
- Transfer of Western Knowledge to Turkey: Institutionalized Policy of Translaiton and Library Building, by Prof. Arnold REISMAN
- Are Kurdish and Turkmen minorities more literate in Turkey than in other countries? by Prof. Arnold REISMAN

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