Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said Turkish schools abroad are the largest non-state project Turkey has ever seen, noting that the schools' value will only increase in the future.
Organizers and participants in the 10th International Turkish Olympiads presented the Karamanoğlu Mehmet Bey Turkish Language Award to the president, who frequently visits Turkish schools when traveling abroad. A short video was screened that depicted the Turkish president's contributions to Turkish schools and the Turkish language.
Following the screening, Olympiads organizing committee Chairman Mehmet Sağlam said Gül deserved the award for his contributions and that the organizing committee unanimously agreed to present him with the award this year.
The 10th International Turkish Olympiads, which brings together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools established throughout the world, kicked off with splendid ceremonies in cities around Turkey on May 30. A total of 1,500 foreign students from 135 countries came to Turkey for the Olympiads, organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER). This year’s competition, which will end on June 14, will be held predominantly in Ankara and İstanbul, but there will also be activities in 41 other Turkish cities.
President Gül said while children from all over Turkey come to Ankara on April 23 to attend the celebrations as part of National Sovereignty and Children's Day, the Turkish Olympiads bring children from all over the world. He said he is pleased to host the competition participants in Turkey.
He added that the award is very precious for him and thanked the organizing committee for the honor. Noting that a language is a primary element of culture, Gül said Turkish Olympiads are probably the largest event serving the Turkish language.
“I can say that this project is the largest non-state project. ... This is one of the biggest services to the Turkish state,” Gül said. He recalled that students from 140 countries vied to come to Turkey and that currently there are 1,500 representatives from 135 countries.
Gül said when they were discussing opening embassies in countries that have no diplomatic relations with Turkey, they realized that many of those countries already had Turkish schools. He lauded Turks who travel abroad and promote Turkish culture. He also called participants in the Turkish Olympiads “goodwill ambassadors” of their countries.
Gül noted that these activities will result in very strong bridges between Turkey and those countries and that he thinks the value of Turkish schools will only increase in the future.