By Betul Yuruk
Visiting New York City on Friday, Turkey’s premier stressed how valuable a friend Turkey is to its allies worldwide, as well as to the oppressed and downtrodden.
Marking the 79th anniversary of the passing of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, at the Turkish Consulate in New York, Binali Yildirim evoked Ataturk's famed principle of "Peace at Home, Peace in the World".
"With that principle, Turkey stands before all injustices, opens its arms to the oppressed, pays a huge price for the regional and global peace of humanity, and hosts millions of displaced people, sharing our bread with them.
"Those who put the blame on us should first look at what they have done and what they have not done for the suffering in the world, then decide," he said.
On recent strains in Turkish-U.S. relations, he said, "The issues we are facing today with the United States of America are temporary.
“Turkey's friendship is always important and valuable for all of our allies."
He called on Turkish citizens living in the U.S. and worldwide to "feel comfortable" and "keep their heads up," explaining: "Turkey has never deviated from its path to democracy, and development, nor will it ever do so."
'New York is as safe as Istanbul'
The premier also said the world is going through a "very troubled period," with no country in the world safe from threats.
"New York is as safe as Istanbul. Washington is safe as Ankara," he said.
He also urged all Turkish-Americans to increase their representation in government and other community institutions.
"Boosting our representation in federal and local institutions will contribute significantly to making our voice heard. The work you do in social areas carries a separate importance. Work in that field not only enhances the solidarity between our people, but also contributes to peace and serenity in the communities you live in at the same time," Yildirim said.
Yildirim is on the last day of a four-day visit to the U.S., during which he visited with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the White House, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Ataturk, who is deeply revered across Turkey, was born in 1881 in Thessaloniki, then part of the Ottoman Empire.
His distinguished military career included repelling the Allied invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915 and then rallying Turks to withstand the Allies’ attempt to carve up Turkey after World War I in the War of Independence.
As Turkey's first president, he transformed the country through a wide-ranging series of modernizing reforms.