I shall now describe to you what happened at Angora on Monday, the 29 th October
With your permission, Gentlemen, I shall now describe to you what happened at Angora on Monday, the 29 th October:
On this day the group of the People s Party assembled at 10 o clock in the morning under the Presidency of Fethi Bey, President of the leading Committee. A discussion was opened with regard to the election of the Cabinet,
“The leading Committee,” said the President, “has drafted a list of Ministers to present to you, which is not of a definite character. It is for you now to decide. If you will allow, the list will be read to you.”
After having said that he presented a list to the Assembly at the head of which was the name of Fuad Pasha, Djelal Bey (Smyrna), designated as candidate for the Ministry of Economy, spoke and proposed that he be not elected by pointing out the importance of the Cabinet. Above all he said the following:
“The persons whose names are quoted on this list are not more important than those who have resigned. The nation demands from us that we put them in a favourable position and carry through reforms. The new Ministers must in any case have stronger per sonalities than the old ones. Let us not be in a hurry with the elections. Let us think above all of the election of the President of the Council.”
Saib Bey (Kosan) expressed the opinion that Fethi Bey should be elected President of the Assembly and Ismet Pasha President of the Council.
Ekrem Bey (Lazistan) : “Will the Cabinet be able to fill the void which the old one has left?” Might His Excellency the Pasha inform us about this?” (I had not yet arrived at the sitting.)
Zulfi Bey declared that as this task belonged to the competency of the Superior Council of the party the election did not appertain to the leading Committee and finally demanded the convocation of this Council.
MehmedEffendi(Bolu): “The new Cabinet that we are going to elect will not be able to remain in power for a month. These repeated elections bring the country and nation into a painful situation. Unless the Cabinet clearly explain the reasons for their resignation I shall not participate in the election of any Cabinet. We must know the reasons and can only elect afterwards.”
Faik Bey (Rodosto): “The persons mentioned in the list do not possess greater authority than the former Ministers. The Superior Council of the party must meet to solve this question.”
Wassif Bey (Saruchan), after having spoken of Ismet Pasha s services, continued as follows: “Why does he abandon the country and the nation? Our leaders have not informed us of the state of affairs. Why does our honourable President (referring to me) not enlighten us on this subject?”
Nedjati Bey (Smyrna): “We cannot allow the persons who are the support of the nation to abandon us in this manner. Our honourable President must enlighten us. A Cabinet strong towards the interior as well as the exterior is an absolute necessity.”
Fethi Bey, the President, believed it necessary to explain that the list was neither proceeding from me nor the Cabinet, but was elaborated by the leading Committee.
Dr. Fikret Bey (Ertogrul): “I join in the opinion of Wassif Bey and Nedjati Bey. The country is not in a very calm state, and an election made at haphazard is inadmisisble. A Cabinet must be elected which consists of personalities possessing authority.”
Redjeb Bey: “Our colleagues must first finish the explanations which they have to give us, so that afterwards His Excellency the Ghazi-Pasha can speak.” (I had not yet arrived.)
Ilias Sami Bey (Musch) : “We beg our honourable President to give us his views. It is better to avert the crisis on the day of its birth. To postpone the solution would result in accentuating the crisis still more. Let us elect a President of the Council and grant him a delay of 24 hours for the election of his colleagues. We must have a strong Cabinet in power.”
Abdurrahman Sheref Bey (the late delegate of Constantinople): “Some of our comrades are alarmed although crises of this sort have occurred in all countries. The aim of all us is the welfare of the country. It is true that we are not successful in creating a mechanism which can work according to our wish. But how shall we arrive at having a strong Government? How shall we find the reason for the evil? Let us study the Constitutional Law and determine the author ities of the Government. The Assembly must declare themselves with regard to their opinions and convictions. His Excellency, our Pre sident, will on his part tell us his views, so that we can come to a solution. Everybody is fit for work and must be used accordingly. Do not let us occupy ourselves with personalities. We are united in the higher aims. Let the Pasha- President give us his opinion.”
EyubSabriEffendi(Konia): “We see ourselves in any case tinder the pressure of an election. It is striking that the former Cabinet have decided not to take over the Government again, even though they were re-elected. The High Assembly must move the destruction of this resolution.” Redslieb Bey (Konia): “I am going to speak of three essential points: firstly, of the form; secondly, of the lack of activity; and thirdly, of the breach of our moral coherence. If the form is faulty, there is no satisfactory result. We are ignorant as to when and under what conditions the comrades of value, who are mentioned on the list, will work. The chief thing is that a person possessing authority should form a Government by indicating its members himself,”
(Then Redsheb Bey gave long declarations especially with regard to the last point.)
Talaat Bey (Ardahan) : “Redsheb Bey and Abdurrahman Sheref Bey have well explained the situation. What is the task of the Pre sident of the Council? We have not yet adopted the authorities and responsibilities of the Ministers. We beg the Ghazi-Pasha to en lighten us.”
Thereupon the President put the motion for the closing of the debate to the vote. Several orther motions were read, Kemaleddin Sami Pasha s being adopted.
According to the contents of this motion I was commissioned by the full sitting to solve the question in my capacity as President of the party.
During these discussions, I was at my house at Tshan Kaya. Following Kemaleddin Sami Pasha s motion I was called to the meet ing. Immediately after my entrance into the hall I ascended the speaker s tribune and made the following short proposal:
“Gentlemen,” I said, “y u see that opinions regarding the question of the election of the Ministers are divided. Grant me an hour s time. I will then submit to you the form of the solution which I shall have found.”
Fethi Bey, the President, put my proposal to the vote, and it was accepted.
Gentlemen, I used this hour of delay to convene in my room the persons who were in question, showed them the minutes of the draft of the law prepared in the night of the 28 th to the 29 th October, and came to an understanding with them.
At 1.30 in the afternoon the party held another general meeting again under the Presidency of Fethi Bey. I was the first to speak, and ascending the platform I gave the following declarations:
“Dear Comrades, I believe that all our colleagues are clear as to the reasons which have led to this difficult question which you have to solve. The fault, the evil, lies in the system and in the adopted form. It is a fact that each one of us finds himself obliged to par ticipate in the election of the Cabinet and the Ministers every time we undertake to form a Cabinet according to our Constitutional Law.
“The moment has arrived to do away with the difficulties which we have to face in this regard. During the previous periods of legis lation we had also felt the same difficulties. You see therefore that this system often gives rise to numerous disagreements.
“Your High Assembly having charged me with the solution of this difficulty I have just now settled the form which I have arrived at guided by the conviction I have expressed before. I will submit it to you. If you approve of my proposal it will be possible to form a strong and solid Government. We must elucidate certain points of our Constitutional Law, which determines the form and character of our State and the integral application of which is the aim of all of us. This is my proposal.”
Then I left the platform handing over the draft to one of the secretaries to read. As soon as the contents of my motion were made known the discussion about it began.
Sabit Bey (Ersindjan) said: “I am a supporter of the system of the Cabinet. But it is impossible to settle the present crisis through the proposition of modifying the Constitutional Law.
“Let us elect for the moment a President of the Cabinet. We shall later on think of this amendment.”
Hasim Bey (Nigde) made the following observations: “Can we elaborate a Constitutional Law? I belive not. Even if we would be justified in doing so we could not proceed to do it within the party. Nobody ventures to speak in public meeting when a question has already been discussed in it previously. I can by no means agree that the laws concerning the vital interests of the nation will be finally settled here. The subject must be discussed freely in public meeting. Above all we must solve the crisis.”
Junus Nadi Bey answered Hasim Bey as follows: “In all countries which had for the first time to elaborate a constitutional law a con stitutional assembly was formed, whilst it had not been foreseen by us to convene a constitutional assembly in such case.”
There have at all times been reasons for such amendments.
The Grand National Assembly which preceded us has worked to this end. We have a right to it. There is no time for hesitation on this point. We have left the trouble of solving the Ministerial crisis to His Excellency the President, and he puts before us this motion.” “All comrades, one after the other, have thought of the system which is recommended in this motion. The question now is to for mulate it. By the way, such a formulated proposal is already in existence. We must give it greater clearness and a definite character.”
Vechbi Bey (Karassi): “Up to the present moment we have not been informed of the Constitutional Law which it is said has been discussed here. It is true that we have read such reports in the news papers; but is that sufficient? We must therefore first of all solve the Ministerial crisis with the reservation of discussing the proposal later on en bloc.”
Halil Bey: “It is our prerogative to elaborate a new Constitutional Law and to alter the existing one. But it depends on the discussions as to whether these alterations are actually of a nature to guarantee the welfare of our country and nation. The lawyers among our com rades must enlighten us on this point. As long as this question is not made clear I am not of the opinion that we can solve it at this meeting.”
One of the members: “The Constitutional Law cannot be altered by a stroke of the pen.”
Hamdullah Subhi Bey (Constantinople) : “Four years ago I em phasised the inconveniences of individual elections. I repeat the same to-day. With regard to the motion of the Ghazi-Pasha, the pro posal is not new but contains rather clearer expression of a law which was adopted four years ago. Those who would like to contradict this assertion should explain their views. But time does not permit us to hesitate in long expectation.”
Ragib Bey (Kutachia): “The best laws are those which are made through events and necessities. The necessity has now arrived. We must perfect the Constitutional Law by making it clear.”
“Let us enter immediately into a discussion about the proposal.”
SeyidBey(the deceased Minister of Justice): “The proposed form is nothing new; it only aims at giving more clearness to the law. Necessities and not theories dictate laws. The time and events are stronger than everything. The law of development is an unalterable law. The proposed form does not include any innovation. When we render the already existing form clearer and more explicit we shall surely have acted in a manner that more nearly corresponds to the interests of the country and the nation.”
In reply to the observations of Seyid Bey, Abidin Bey (Sarujan) proposed first to solve the crisis.
Eyub Sabri Effendi (Konia) was of the following opinion: “We have elected His Excellency the Ghazi as arbitrator. To say that we are deprived of the right to alter the Constitutional Law would be equal to admitting our illegitimacy. It is quite evident that the Assembly is competent for the alteration of this law. It is necessary that the form of our Government should be a Republic.”
Then Ismet Pasha spoke and expressed the following:
“It is absolutely necessary to accept the motion of the leader of the party. Everybody knows that we are discussing the form of Government to be adopted. If we do not succeed in coming to the ned of these discussions and formulating the result, we shall perpetuate the crisis and the chaos. Allow me to tell you my experience. The European diplomats have drawn my attention to the following point: The State has no chief, 5 they said; in the present form of your Government the President of the Assembly is the chief, which means that you are waiting for another.
“This is the point of view of Europe, but we ourselves do not see things in this light. The nation is actually mistress of her own destiny; it is sovereign. Why do we hesitate to give a legal expression to the real facts? The proposal of electing a Minister of the Council without there being a President of the Republic would undoubtedly be illegal. The motion of His Excellency the Ghazi must receive legal force so that the election of the President of the Council can be made legal and possible. It is absurd to prolong this state of affairs which is causing the general weakness. The Party must act according to the requirements and the responsibilities which they have assumed to wards the whole nation. 55
The declarations made by the unforgettable Abdurrahman Sheref Bey, following Ismet Pasha, ended with the following words:
“It is useless to enumerate all the forms of Government which exist at a moment when you say that the sovereignty belongs to the nation without reserve or restriction. With whomsoever you speak he will answer you that this signifies the Republic. That is the real name of the new creation.
“What does it matter if this name displeases some of you?
Yussuf Kemal Bey who followed him on the platform gave a long explanation of the necessity of bringing the motion immediately to the vote and proposed to endow it with the legal formalities.
In spite of the objection raised by Abdullah Asim Effendi, who said that the question being evidently important the discussion must be continued, the latter was regarded as being sufficient. The motion was then read and put to the vote, at first with regard to the whole of it, and afterwards article by article.
The sitting of the party was closed and the meeting of the Assembly immediately opened. It was six o clock in the evening. Whilst the Commission of the Constitutional Law carefully examined the motion and prepared their report, the Assembly deliberated on certain other questions.
At last Ismet Pasha, the Vice- President, who presided, declared: The Commission of the Constitutional Law urgently proposes to discuss the motion for the amendment of this law.
Shouts of approbation were heard; the report was read and put forward for discussion. Finally the law was accepted after speeches by different deputies who were greeted with shouts of “Long live the Republic 1″
Thereupon the election of the President was put to the vote. Ismet Pasha announced the result in the following words:
“One hundred and fifty-eight Deputies have participated in the election of the President of the Republic. By 158 votes they have unanimously elected His Excellency the Ghazi Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Deputy for Angora, President,”
Gentlemen, you must have read in the protocols the declarations which I then made before the Assembly. I shall, however, repeat them here to recall to your memory this historic event. They were as follows:
” Honourable comrades, following the vote of the draft of the law submitted to your approbation by the competent commission for the purpose of making more clear certain articles of the Constitutional Law a valuable document which actually confirms the awakening of our nation in view of extraordinary events of world-moving im portance the character of the Turkish State, which is already known and ought to be known to the whole world, shall be defined under a denomination to be universally spread. As a natural con sequence of this event you entrust to me, under the title of President of the Republic, the same task which had already been imposed upon me in my capacity as President of the Assembly. On this occasion also you give me a new proof of the sincere affection and confidence which you have hitherto shown to me, and you manifest thereby the fact that you know how to appreciate highly the services rendered by me. With the deepest sincerity of my soul I express to you my cordial thanks for this sign of your affection. “For several centuries the oppressed Nation of the Orient, the innocent Turkish Nation, was considered as being without any of the inborn qualities which distinguish it.
The capacity, the aptitude and the intelligence which our people have shown during these last years distinctly prove that those who judged them in this way were superficial and blind men, incapable of judging rightly. Thanks to the new title of their Government our nation will better succeed in manifesting before the eyes of the civilised world the qualities and merits with which they are endowed. The Turkish Republic will know how to demonstrate by deeds that they are worthy of the position they occupy among the nations.
“Comrades, the victory which the Turkish Nation, creator of this High Assembly, has been able to gain in the course of these last four years will also in future bear multifold results. So that I may prove worthy of the confidence which I have just received, I think it ne cessary to emphasise one point which I regard as being very essential and which constitutes for me a great need.
This need consists in the fact of perpetuating the confidence, the kindly feeling and the support of your Assembly towards me. It is only thereby that, with the help of God, I shall succeed in fulfilling the task with which you have entrusted me as well as that which you shall entrust me with in future.
“I shall work constantly and sincerely hand in hand with my comrades without for a single moment believing that I could dispense with their personal help. Supported by the love of the nation we shall march forward together. The Turkish Republic will be happy, prosperous and victorious.”
The resolution containing the proclamation of the Republic had been carried in the Assembly on the evening of the 29 th October, 1923, at 8.30.
The resolution containing the proclamation of the Republic had been carried in the Assembly on the evening of the 29 th October, 1923, at 8.30. Fifteen minutes later, that is to say, at 8.45, its President was elected. The event was brought to the knowledge of the whole country the same night and was announced after midnight every where by a salute of 101 guns.
As is known, the first Cabinet was formed by Ismet Pasha and Fethi Bey was elected President of the Assembly.
The proclamation of the Republic was enthusiastically received by the nation. This enthusiasm was manifested everywhere by brilliant demonstrations.
Kemal Pasha 42 Only two or three newspapers in Constantinople and a few persons who were still united in this town hesitated to participate in the sincere and general joy of the nation. They felt uneasy about it and began to criticise those who had intervened for the purpose of securing the Republic.
In order to recall to our memory the way in which the news papers and persons to whom I have alluded received this proclamation it is sufficient to take a glance at the publications at this time.
Even the articles which appeared under the heading of “Long live the Republic” affirmed that the way in which the Republic had been decided upon and proclaimed was strange, and that we had proceeded in a manner that meant “putting a pistol to the head of the nation.”
The writer of this article expressed himself in the following way:
“. . . The fact that the Constitutional Law had been modified within a few hours and that it is said on the other hand that this or that would be done, constitutes to use a very harmless expression at least a very uncommon act.”
Our conduct “was not the fruit of a reasoning born from the spirit of persons who had studied civilisation and acquired the ne cessary maturity for governing.”
The Assembly was criticised because they had accepted the pro clamation of the Republic by acclamation and the nation because they had celebrated it with the joyous salute of guns. “The Republic,” they said, “could not live on acclamations, prayers, festivals and illuminations. It is not a talisman. The Assembly had been hyp notised and bewitched. It was not to be expected that things would arrange themselves in future, and that the remedy for all evil would present itself on its account.”
Should alleged republicans be allowed to speak and write in such a manner on the very day of the proclamation of the Republic?
Those who pretended to be convinced that the Republic is an ideal form of Government said now that they did not like the expression “Republic” as being an “idol.” What did these words mean? What had they in view?
Pronouncing the false idea before public opinion that a Cabinet, even if in possession of the confidence of the Assembly, could be over thrown when the Assembly was not sitting, it was also pretended that this right “had even been refused to the Padishah. Would it be accorded to the President of the Republic?” To whom was this question addressed? And what was the reason for it? Was the aim pursued by the writer of these articles to get the public to love the Republic or to make them understand that it was not an adorable idol? “Will the Republic bring us a change of mentality simultaneously with the change of the governmental system?
“Will it endow every member of the Cabinet with the brains of a statesman?” Could it be that the alleged republicans were trying from the very beginning to discredit the Republic and to depreciate its value?
Was it possible that the creation which ought to have been pro tected from the slightest breeze was being tormented in this manner by those who pretended to promote it?
On another page of the newspaper which contained these con templations was another article under the heading of “The Pro clamation of the Turkish Republic.” Amongst others the following passages appeared therein:
“The Turkish people have arrived at a point: will they be able to rest there and make a long halt?
“Will this point mean a source of strength, vitality, welfare and happiness for them?
“Will this point be suitable to form a compass that can com prise their entire social organism without entailing decay? Or will the Republic be nothing but a shelter behind which they can take refuge from the harshness of the events for lack of a better one?”
Was this a suitable moment for using such discouraging language?
This person doubted whether the Republic could give hope, rest and happiness.
What was the source from which they expected these blessings? How was it that the thought of the probability that the Republic would entail the decay of the social organism of our nation could take root in the mind of the supporters of the Republic?
Another journalist also began to sound the alarm. “You proceed too quickly, Gentlemen,” he said, and he denounced us to the nation with the following words: “Instead of solving the crisis in a normal way by the election of a new Cabinet, this crisis, on the contrary, has had the effect of broaching in a positive, categoric and very hasty manner the question of the Republic, of which nobody believed that its proclamation was impending, in spite of all rumours which had been circulated during these last days.
“It was not only public opinion which did not believe in it. Certain official persons in very important positions also did not think of it.”
Through such articles they admitted that all the rumours of these last days had been circulated for the purpose of preventing the pro clamation of the Republic. Those who pursued such an intention had naturally to be of the opinion that we had been too hasty “in coming to resolutions.” But it was an error to believe that public opinion shared this view. The editor who filled his newspaper with bad jokes and humdrum flashes of wit such as: “The balloon has been let loose! But apparently they have lost the string! … The wheels of the mill turned under the pressure of the water, but in which direction?” continues his criticism as follows: “You are right, Gentlemen, in giving the State a name; but will you be able in the same way to arrange its affairs?”
The lines which began with such diatribes ended as f ollows : Our only desire is that one begins to work in the interest of the nation. If the dignitaries and the supporters of the Republic proclaimed yesterday believe themselves strong enough to realise this work, we shall say to them: May your Republic bring you luck, Gentlemen!”
The editor who congratulated us so ironically in this phrase did not make the Republic his own and declared that he had no share in it.
In a critical article published on the same occasion another jour nalist expressed himself as follows: “We are dejected with regard to our National leaders. Even strong souls have not been able to resist the temptation of acquiring personal power and authority.”
And after having supported his thesis by quotations from my speeches he related how Washington, the hero of American Independ ence, had retired to his farm, and he observed that the American Parliament, without regard to personality and only thinking of the general good, had worked out the Constitution in a period of six years in order to elect Washington President afterwards. The jour nalist disapproved of my having been the promoter of the alteration of our Constitutional Law to its present form.
We should be very simple minded if we believed that this jour nalist and his like were sincere in the criticisms to which they aban doned themselves for the purpose of emphasising the defects which they believed to have discovered either in the way the Republic was proclaimed or in the law settling the principles which referred to the Republic.
If these journalists had loyally accepted the Republic on the day of its proclamation instead of beginning with their alarm, if they had published articles which were aimed at not driving public opinion 66i
into uncertainty, but rather at inculcating the idea that the Re public was useful and that its proclamation was a wise measure, they would have been able to maintain the sincerity of their later criticisms. But their procedure was quite a different one.
At the same time Rauf Bey also had an interview with the jour nalists. I had read in the “Watan” of the I st November, 1923, an interview with him which gave his opinion of the Republic as well as his conceptions with regard to the National sovereignty.