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Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Mustafa Kemal Ataturk the founder of the Turkish Republic and its first president stands as a towering figure of the 20th century Few great leaders have achieved so much in so short a time Emerging as a military hero in 1915 he became the charismatic leader of the Turkish national liberation struggle in 1919 Following a series of highly impressive victories against all odds he led his nation to full independence on October 29 1923 On that date Mustafa proclaimed the Republic of Turkey The new nation-state stood in sharp contrast to the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire out of whose ashes it arose Atatrks Turkey dedicated itself to the sovereignty of the national will - to the creation of in Presidents words the state of the people The Republic quickly got after putting an end to the so-called Capitulations or the special rights and privileges that the Ottomans had granted to some European powers The New Turkeys ideology was and still remains Kemalism later known as Atatrkism Its basic principles underscore the republican form of government representing the power of electorate secular administration nationalism mixed economy with state participation in many of the vital sectors and modernization Atatrkism introduced to Turkey the process of parliamentary and participatory democracy One of the most difficult things to change in a society is the language Most leaders would never dream of attempting to change it but when they do they do it slowly Under his leadership Turkey took the worlds most swift and extensive language reform In 1928 he decided that the Arabic script which had been used for thousands of years should be replaced with latin He asked the experts How long would it take Most of them replied At least five years We shall do it Atatrk said within five months Within a short time Turkey had fully and functionally adopted language
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