Prime Minister Erdoğan receives Palestinian excellence award

October 25, 2011, Tuesday/ 18:07:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has received the Palestinian International Award for Excellence and Creativity (PIA) 2011 for his contribution and support to the plea of the Palestinian people for the establishment of a sovereign state of Palestine, the Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday.

Although Erdoğan was not able to attend the award ceremony in the West Bank, he conveyed a message expressing his gratitude for the award he said he was accepting on behalf of his country with joy through Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem, Sakir Özkan Torunlar, who received the award on Erdoğan’s behalf at a ceremony held on Tuesday, Anatolia reported. The plight of Palestine is the fight to keep up and protect the pride of humanity that some want to trample, Erdoğan said in the message, and added that it was not only the plight of Palestine but rather the fight of all people who side with human rights and freedoms and humanitarian values, regardless of their faith or religion.

Erdoğan also pledged solidarity with the “brotherly people of Palestine,” saying they would never have to stand alone and that “Turkey and the Turkish people will always be beside their Palestinian brothers.” The Turkish prime minister also reiterated support for the “rightful demands” of Palestinians for a sovereign state and expressed the hope that “Palestine claims the place it deserves in the international community as a UN member.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad relayed the Palestinian gratitude to Erdoğan and the people of Turkey for their strong support and solidarity with his people, as he handed out the award to Torunlar. Fayyad also noted that it was the first time the award was distributed to an international figure.

PIA is a prestigious award project by an independent, non-profit organization, the Paltel Group Foundation, established in 2008 to respond to the growing needs of Palestinian society, the group’s social network page stated. The award is an initiative by a philanthropist, Sabih Taher Al-Masri, and was made into an annual event to “honor creative and dedicated individuals in recognition of their important achievements.”

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