Speech Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Şakir Özkan Torunlar, Consul General of Turkey in Jerusalem, on the Occasion of the Inauguration Ceremony of the Turkish School in Qalkiliya, 1 December 2010

Şakir Özkan Torunlar 01.12.2010
Your Excellencies the Ministers of the Palestinian Authority,
Mr Governor,
Mr Mayor,
My dear Palestinian brothers and sisters,

Today, it is a great pride and honour for all of us who gathered here for the inauguration ceremony of the newly built Turkish School in this beautiful Palestinian city of Qalkiliya. On this occasion I would like to extend all my thanks and appreciation to those who didn’t spare any energy and efforts from both the Turkish and the Palestinian Governments to put this school in the service of our Palestinian friends. I especially would like to thank my friend and colleague Mr. Ahmet Refik Çetinkaya, the Head of TİKA Reprentation in Palestine, who together with his partners did their best to have this and many other schools be completed as examplary monuments of Turkish-Palestinian friendship and cooperation.

As you know, this Project is the part and parcel of Turkish Government’s commitment of 150 million Dollars assistance to the Palestinian Authority. The construction started last year. It costed a sum of slightly over one million Dollars. 460 students will benefit from its 11 classrooms, library, computer rooms and other facilities.

Your Excellencies,
Dear Friends,

Turkey, as a brotherly country and nation attaches utmost importance to the state building programme of the Government of His Excellency Dr. Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of Palestine. This school that we will open today, is one of the schools that we have constructed in Palestine. Recently one school in Tulkarem and another one in Jenin were completed and handed over the authorities. Stonelaying ceremony of another school in Al Bireh/Ramallah will take place next week. For the year 2011, we are scheduling the construction and completion of two more schools, one in Nablus and the other one in El Halil. I am glad to share with you that Turkey, in addition to these, in the education sector, has contributed to the renovation and upgrading works carried in the Anata Orphans School and the Darul Eytem Vocational Training School. The total cost of works only in education sector in the last 12 months have already exceeded 3 million Dollars. The number of Government scholarships in Turkish universities were doubled in the last years, totalling nearly 100.

For us the best investment in a country is the investment in its human resources. With its young and dynamic population, having received high quality education, we believe that our Palestinian brothers immediately will take their already deserved seat in the international community when its independence will be registered in the United Nations.

Mr Governor,
Mr Mayor,

I also personally hope that, the young Palestinians who will receive their education according to the Palestinian curriculum in the schools that are built by their Turkish brothers will one day have the opportunity to continue their university education in their second home, in Turkey. When I was a student in the university in Turkey, - I am talking about 30 years ago-, I had many Palestinian friends. Those were the years where TV was only one channel, but having no internet or mobile phones. However, through those friends, we learned the plight, the bitter life in Palestine, the occupation, and the struggle of our brothers in their own land. Today, when you go to any town, any school or university in Turkey, you will immediately witness the high esteem and sympathy of the Turkish people towards their Palestinian sisters and brothers. Perhaps, these were the motives behind hundreds of Turks, men, women and little children who took part in aid convoy, together with people from 32 different nations of the world to extend a helping hand to the Palestinian families and children in need living in Gaza. Unfortunately, nine of them were murdered and lost their lives in the international waters of Mediterranean, on their way before delivering the toys, school material and food they were bringing along with them, just few months ago.

Before to conclude, I would like to remind to all present here, that Turkey with its people and Government is and will always be with Palestine and Palestinians as was the case for centuries.

Thank you.

Ahmet Rıza Demirer Consul General