1 March 2011 // Kabul, Afghanistan

Excellencies, dear colleagues, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to greet you on the occasion of the First March Turkish-Afghan Friendship Day. It is all the more important that this Day is celebrated for the first time today. I wish first of all to express my most sincere congratulations to the Governments and the peoples of Afghanistan and Turkey. With the excellent initiatives of their esteemed leaders these two countries have set a significant and timely example of international brotherhood by declaring their Friendship Day. This Day commemorates the first Friendship Agreement which was signed on First March nineteen twenty-one and seals their friendship forever. This Day evokes innumerable memories of a shared history that can be traced in all fields of life and in the heritage of their peoples. This Friendship Day revives these memories for the reference of all peoples and for the knowledge of coming generations. I pray to Allah Almighty for the happiness, welfare and prosperity of our two countries, for the achievement of their economic development, for peace and harmony in their regions and around the world.

Dear colleagues,

International cooperation over shared concerns about contemporary problems is a major attribute of our time on global scale. To this aim, reference to shared history and cultural exchange between countries and peoples is a most objective and accurate method that helps to build and reinforce such cooperation. From shared history and cultural exchange we draw the elements that make up friendships and that further strengthen existing ones. In this regard Afghanistan and Turkey possess a very rich treasure of joint historical and cultural heritage. Their bonds of friendship date back for more than two millenniums. Throughout the Islamic period eminent Muslim scholars have emerged from their centers of interaction such as Jalaluddin al-Rumi and Ibn Sina, who were born in Balkh, and Sultan Mahmud, who is from Ghazne. Centuries later, in the twentieth century these two countries lead their independence and development processes around the same periods.

With all these considerations IRCICA prepared the exhibition titled Turkish-Afghan Friendship in Historical Photographs which highlights part of this treasure. It presents photographs dating back to different moments of the recent past which were symbols or landmarks of the reinforcement of friendship between the two countries. I can say that the exhibition is a glimpse at visual documents of the heritage and the processes that culminated in the celebration of this Friendship Day.

As most of you already know, IRCICA is an intergovernmental organisation with fifty-seven-member states and subsidiary of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference – OIC. Since its establishment in nineteen-eighty, the Centre undertakes research and publishing. It collects references and documentation, organises congresses, exhibitions, competitions of art and architecture and has a specialised library and archives. Until now IRCICA held seventy-four congresses on history and civilization in the following regions: Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Caucasia, Central Asia, Volga-Ural region, the Balkans, Southeast Europe, East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa. It organised two hundred and thirty exhibitions of arts, architecture, photographs, publications. It published one hundred and thirty editions of books in different fields of research. Among them are Bibliographies of Translations of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, facsimile editions and studies on oldest copies of the Holy Quran, studies on the scientific contributions of Islam to universal civilisation, books on the history of Islamic civilisation and Muslim nations in various regions of the world, albums of historical photographs of the Member States, among others.

Within the framework of its archival services IRCICA maintains an archive of historical photographs. This archive contains seventy thousand photographs in total. Among them is the collection named the Albums of Sultan Abdulhamid the Second or Yıldız Palace Albums. These albums include thirty-six thousand photographs taken all around the world but mostly on Ottoman geography between the dates eighteen fifty and nineteen sixteen.

Besides providing references for IRCICA’s projects the archive is presented for the use of the OIC member states, universities and researchers. This is done by organising exhibitions and by publishing albums. Until now we published albums of historical photographs of the following cities and countries: Al-Quds, Egypt, Istanbul, Erzurum, and also from the same archives, an album on the Friendship Between Turkey and Yemen and an album on the Japanese-Turkish Friendship. Other albums are in preparation.

The present exhibition glimpses at diplomatic relations, architectural heritage, social life, and other aspects of recent history. As a permanent outcome of the exhibition, we published its catalogue, with a larger number of photographs than the exhibition. I believe it will be a valuable addition to library collections.

I would like to conclude reiterating my congratulations and expressing my appreciation to the governmental authorities and all institutions of Afghanistan and Turkey for marking this important Friendship Day with cultural functions and commemoration activities. I thank all the guests and participants for their interest. I greet you all with my best wishes.


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