|Speech by Mr. Jacques Chirac,former President of the French Republic at the Galatasaray University upon receiving a doctorate honoris causa – Istanbul, Tuesday, May 11, 2010.Download the speech of President Jacques Chirac (pdf)|
President of the Republic, dear Süleyman Demirel,
President of the Galatasaray Educational Foundation
Director of Galatasaray High School,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a tremendous honor to receive here in Istanbul, the doctorate honoris causa from the University of Galatasaray.
An honor nourished by your university’s global prestige, your invaluable work with Francophonie, and your institution’s role in Turkey’s history.
I stand amonst you today, proud of the University of Galatasaray, of which I am now graduated.
This insitution wsa born of the mutual desire of our two countries expressed at the highest level. The cooperative agreement establishing its creation was indeed signed in the presence of both Presidents of the Republic, Mr. Turgut Özal and Mr. François Mitterrand, 18 years ago, on April 14, 1992. It was unanimously ratified by Turkey’s Grand National Assembly.
By creating a Francophone University on the Bosphorus, the Turkish government turned once again towards France.
The first time was in 1868 when the Galatasaray High School was founded. This great idea was born of a meeting between the Sultan Abdülaziz and Victor Duruy, Napoleon III’s minister of education.
Galatasaray University is already showing exceptional results.
It has been designated a “university of excellence”.
It attracts the best students in Turkey, thanks to a highly selective recruitment process.
It has thus been able, in just a few years to attain the level of the prestigious, century old High School, which has trained many of Turkey’s finest ministers, ambassadors, parliamentary officials, distinguished intellectuals, university professors, writers, journalists, and artists, many of whom are among us today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What audacity, vision, and tenacity it took to achieve this impressive result that you have both acheived and witnessed!
I would like to take advantage of the honour you are bestowing upon me to pay special tribute to my predecessor, President François Mitterrand, who was highly committed to this project. He stated in these very halls, “Turkey honours our culture and our French language by choosing it as an instrument of modernization and openness to the world”.
The Galatasaray University thus perfectly fulfills the goals of modernization set by Ataturk.
This ambitious project, which many European countries are currently imitating, would never have seen the light of day had it not been for visionaries and pioneers, many of whom honor us with their presence. However, for it flourish and attain its current scope, the university had to fulfill three conditions, a challenge it has successfully acomplished.
First, was the need for a solid foundation with an innovative institutional structure.
I would especially like to commend the High Committee of Franco-Turkish Sponsorship, which brings together leading figures in the fields of politics, culture and French academia. It is currently chaired by my friend, former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, Mayor of Bordeaux, who accepted the responsabilities after the passing of Raymond Barre, the committee’s previous head.
To train Turkey’s future leaders, the faculty had to be outstanding. The French Ministry of National Education understood this need very well and has sent its best elements every year.
I know the Turkish government shares the same concern and has sent its brightest teachers to your University.
Distinguished professors, you are key links in the intellectual chain that every year, produces graduates who are an honor to the “Galatasaray tradition”.
Finally, to make your university what it is today, a strong political will was indispensable.
When I took office as President of the Republic, I was highly committed to always ensuring the smooth functionning of your institution, which is one of the most precious jewels of the relationship between our two countries.
Dear Chancellor, President of the Galatasaray Education Foundation, distinguished alumni of the college and university, members of the Alumni Association, but also of the Friends of the University, you are, each and every one, eminent representatives of an intellectual society that has promoted intellectual knowledge to a cardinal virtue.
This establishes between all of you, an unflagging, fraternal link.
It is this relationship that has allowed me to enter the closed circle of your great university’s honorary doctors.
Allow me to slaute in particular Mrlnan Kiraç, chairman of the Galatasaray Education Foundation, and doctor in 2007.
Dear Kiraç Inan, you are the symbol of Galatasaray’s finest.
You are also an unfailing, ardent, and demanding activist for the ongoing friendship between Turkey and France.
In spreading the use of French, Galatasaray is one of the pillars of a certain French identity that transcends boundaries, overcoming political, cultural, and religious divisions.
Each language has its genius.
The one we share shapes a certain vision of the relationship between individuals and communities.
A vision inspired by solidarity and fraternity, that is to say, values derived from human rights.
Your University, a member of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, the Galatasaray high school, as well as all French high schools in Turkey are an important link in a group that unites the five continents and more than 750 million people .
As an ardent activist of Francophonie, I am especially pleased and proud to find in Turkey such eminent advocates of cultural diversity and equal dignity for all cultures.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The unique friendship France has maintained over centuries with Turkey supports our statement of a community of fate between our two nations.
It behooves us to keep this community of fate alive.
This common goal is enriched by substantial political dialogue, fruitful exchanges between our societies, and shared efforts to promoting peace in the world.
The Franco-Turkish political dialogue has been significantly enriched in recent years. It will undoubtedly be called upon to further strengthen owing to Turkey’s increased presence at both the regional and international levels.
I am pleased that Turkey has been elected as non-permanent member of the United Nations’ Security Council, with the support of France. Moreover, Turkey’s presence in the G20, which confirms your country’s voice in the concert of nations, will allow for close cooperation, particularly in view of the French presidency of the G20 in 2011.
Finally, whichever link will unite Turkey with the European Union in the years to come, and you already know my position on this subject, my firm belief is that it must be as strong as possible. Turkey and the European Union clearly share the same destiny.
Franco-Turkish relations are also evident in the ties forged between our two societies.
Both of which have learned over time to better understand and appreciate each other.
Many actors are involved in this movement: French nationals from Turkey, Turks living in France, institutions, the business community, and non-governmental groups.
The role of intellectual purveyors that you embody, Galatasaray alumn and friends, as intellectuals and connoisseurs of our two cultures, is that much more important.
Let us work together so that our two countries may continue to strengthen and bring ever closer their mutual ties, as dictated by history and their common fate, which reflect the democracy and secularism they share.
The Season of Turkey in France, which has just ended, was a striking demonstration of the relevance of this goal, of the wealth of our bilateral relations, and the wide range of possibilities to increase these ties that still exists.
I personally decided to organize the Turkish Season in France when the project was presented to me at the end of 2006. I am delighted that this ambitious project was confirmed by the President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy and supported by the President of the Republic of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, as well as by the Prime Minister Erdogan. The multitude of events throughout our territory, allowed President Gul to make, at the start of this season, in October 2009, the first official visit by a Turkish Head of State to France since President Suleyman Demirel’s trip in 1998. The closing ceremonies in early April, also allowed Prime Minister Erdogan to officially visit France for the first time in six years.
I would like to thank and congratulate all the Turkish and French participants in this project. They have contributed to its success.
This season has utterly fulfilled its role by helping to raise awareness of contemporary Turkey in France. Your country has acquired a modern image, living, dynamic, ambitious, in short, a more accurate picture of Turkey in France.
Finally, our common fate is expressed by a shared concern with promoting peace in the world.
In theaters of operations abroad, Turkish and French soldiers are present. In Afghanistan and Lebanon, they work side by side to maintain peace.
I hold dear anything that advocates for peace, because war is never a solution. This is why, as part of the foundation I inaugurated nearly two years ago, I have created a Conflict Prevention Prize. Indeed, peace too can be built or maintained through individual commitment.
The Prize I created is designed to reward all those who engage, often covertly in mediation and conflict prevention.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to conclude with these wise words the General de Gaulle stated on this very spot: “When France, first of all Western states, recognized the government of Ankara, it is certain that the value of an elite that we knew well deeply influenced the confidence we entertained from the outset for modern Turkey.
It is up to us to bring these words to life. This confidence in the future of Turkey and its relations with France, as with the European Union, is more than ever necessary.
Strengthened by the honor you have bestowed upon me today, allow me to reassure you of my commitment and loyalty at your side.
Thank you for your attention