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Brochure (inside)

An International Two-Day Conference - April 19-20, 2013
Organized and Presented by: The Light Millennium and
Stevens Institute of Technology

Dated: May 18-19, 2013

REPORT On the Day-Two - April 20, 2013
A Two-Day International Conference
Speakers of the High Level Panel of the Pioneer of the Millennium Development Goals: Atatürk International Conference
From left to right:
Rev. James Bestman, Dr. Sebahattin Devecioglu, Dr. Gül Çelkan, Müjgan Hedges, Prof. Christopher Vassillopulos (back row), Mirat Yavalar (center) Bircan Ünver, Sally (Salwa) Kader, Prof. David Cuthell, Ceren Olga Sayan, Prof. Edward Foster.

REPORT BY: The Light Millennium

REPORT April 19, 2013 FULL REPORT - April 19-20, 2013 CONCERT Program
SUMMARY PROGRAM - Final (with bios) FLYER


On Saturday, April 20, the conference brought in a diverse and multi-cultural group of academics, students, independent authors/researchers and non-governmental organization representatives. Geographical participations were from Liberia, Turkey in four universities such as Kadir Has, Maltepe (Istanbul), Firat (Elazig) and Anatolian (Eskisehir) universities as well as from Atlanta (Middle Georgia State College), W.DC, Virginia, Connecticut (State University), Toronto (Carleton University), Michigan (NGO), New York (Columbia University), and New Jersey (Stevens). Selected, and all previously announced papers presented.

The morning session of the second day was dedicated to the “Empowerment of Women and Gender Equality, and Universal Education” moderated by David C. Cuthell, Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University. 

Sally Shatila Kader, Co-Founder and President of the United States Federation for Middle East Peace presented her speech titled “Women Empowerment and Gender Equality from the Middle East and Global Perspective” as well as from the non-governmental organization perspective.

She said the USFMEP strives to educate citizens of the world as we believe that education is essential for students, society, and the world. The Federation aims to mobilize ordinary members of societies in all regions of the world, particularly women and youth, in contributing to the establishment of a lasting peace in the world. We believe that women and youth are under-utilized members of society whose potential could be harnessed and channeled towards effective peace efforts.” She added “We strongly believe in a peaceful solution to even the most difficult situations”.

In her presentation, Mrs. Kader emphasized women suffering and pain in the Middle East, and referred to the Arab Spring that she hoped, it might have been a solution but it has failed.

She also introduced her NGO as follow: “The USFMEP Non-Governmental organization with consultative status with ECOSOC and associated with the Department of Public Information at the United Nations based in the United States, with branches in Four Continent. Its offices are at the United Nations Regional Headquarters in Geneva (ECE), Addis Ababa (ECA), Beirut (ESCWA), Bangkok ( ESCAP) and at the United Nation office in Vienna (UNOV)”

Hüdai Yavalar, Founding President, and Mirat Yavalar, Founding Member and Treasurer, Atatürk Society of America, authored a paper “Ataturk’s Reforms Empowered Turkish Women and Set an Example for the World.” Ceren Olga Sayan presented it. The Atatürk Society of America is a leading organization promoting Atatürk’s vision and principles in the U.S. It was one of the two sponsors of the conference. In the co-founders’ comprehensive paper, Atatürk is introduced as follows:

As the first president of the new Republic, Kemal Ataturk led one of the world's most effective modernization campaigns ever. He was well ahead of his time; he prepared an extraordinary reform strategy to the finest detail, in order to create the new modern and secular state that exists today. He said that “As an advanced and civilized nation, we will live in the midst of contemporary civilization... Those nations which insist on the maintenance of irrational traditions and irrational beliefs, do not progress”. As part of his strategy, he launched a program of revolutionary social, political, cultural, and judicial reforms. These reforms included the separation of religion and state affairs (secularism); introduction of modern, contemporary education; co-education for boys and girls; a new alphabet; equal rights for women, and the introduction of Western legal codes, dress, and calendar.

A great statesman, leader and reformer, Kemal Ataturk converted a backward, illiterate, Islamic
society to a modern, secular (laic), educated and progressive State, governed by the rule of law. He pursued a foreign policy of neutrality, establishing friendly relations with Turkey's neighbors. Atatürk´s Turkey became an example of hope towards independence for many emerging nations around the world. He was admired as a pioneer of national liberation. 29 nations around the world followed his example and gained independence. And today, in 2013, Ataturk´s principles and reforms still represent the most suitable social and political enlightenment movement which can contribute to the future of Muslim countries.

Status of Turkish Women Before Ataturk’s Reforms: His Philosophy and Ideals; The Change from a Theocratic and Religious to a Democratic and Secular State: The New Turkish Republic; Women’s Rights and Equality; Rise and “Relative” Decline In the Status of Turkish Women; Ataturk’s Reforms and Other Islamic Countries are subsections of the Atatürk Society of America’s comprehensive paper, which concluded with: Ataturk’s Ideals and Reforms Empowered Turkish Women and These Will Continue to Set Example for the Developing World, in the 2000s and Beyond. The following section is taken from the conclusion:

A great leader, reformer and a brilliant statesman, Kemal Ataturk converted a theocratic, backward and illiterate Islamic society into a modern, secular, and progressive new nation: the Turkish Republic. Ataturk’s primary goal of “elevating people to the level of contemporary civilization” was a dynamic, non-ending objective and process. He believed that civilization was universal in which all nations participated, and it was dynamic. Modern education and science, and intellect and rational thinking were the elements of contemporary civilization. These would set aside religious disagreements and conflicts, and bring peace and continuous progress to the world. Secularism, therefore, was essential to eliminate the influence of religion and dogma, on education and state affairs. Similarly, democracy, the rule of people, would assure individual freedoms and liberty, and people’s own participation in the nation’s governance.

Judy Light Ayyildiz presented her speech titled “Ataturk, His Incredible Gift to Inspire: a New Nation Built on Equality and Justice—an Enduring Spirit for the Future.” Ayyildiz’s paper is summarized as follows:

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s progressive visions, humanitarian teachings, straightforward examples, and his leadership in implementing laws of justice and equality for both women and men established the course for the Turkish Republic. Among Ataturk’s incredible abilities, none was more important than his gift to inspire his citizens to commitment and fortitude. In my epic novel, Forty Thorns, the heroine, Adalet, is a symbol of the generation who took Ataturk’s spirit into their hearts and minds. Thus, they accomplished the most astounding social and political revolution of the twentieth century.

Forty Thorns is framed within the documented history of the rise of modern Turkey. It is based on the oral memoir of a 91-year-old progressive Turkish woman, Adalet, a foot soldier in Ataturk’s army, marching toward progress and peace. “I’m not important, but my story is,” she said, although her life parallels the nation’s journey.

Women like Adalet breathed the life in Ataturk’s words on a daily basis. They laid the foundations for the future. Out of the ashes of total ruin into an ordered government built to enhance, educate, and enlighten the masses, their new republic grew as a flat-out miracle.

A classical hero himself, Ataturk’s republic became an enduring example of triumph of the human spirit. Like Adalet, many of her generation outlived trial and loss with remarkable hope—believing in ideals greater than themselves. Ataturk instilled in his men and women the courage to walk toward the future as equals. Only then could society be whole, centered, and joyful.

M. K. Ataturk’s ability to inspire greatness into the spirit of the millions of individuals like Adalet is at the heart of the journey of the Turkish Republic. In today’s world of war-torn and hopeless masses that dream for freedom, Ataturk’s accomplishments are a universal hope.

Ayyildiz gave a very personal, insigtful history through her involvement with Turkish culture and her Turkish mother-in-law’s story. She indicated that there are numerous similar stories that are not known outside of Turkey as indications of early feminism and women rights in the U.S. She indicated that when the followers of the feminist movement in the U.S. read Forthy Thorns or hear about her mother-in-law’s story, they are surprised and very impressed.

Dr. Gül Çelkan, Middle Georgia State College, Atlanta presented her paper titled “Turkish Women From Past to Present”. The Abstract to Dr. Çelkan’s paper is as follows:

It was the Turkish women who benefited most from the adoption of the Swiss Civil Code following the proclamation of the Turkish Republic; through this, women were placed on the same social level as men, in contrast to the position hitherto reserved for them. In this way women became, in Turkey, an active element in the evolution of the Republic and in national life.
In fact there exists today no difference between the formerly captive Turkish women, and women of countries which are the most socially advanced in the world. Feminine emancipation is one of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s most brilliant humanitarian victories.
During the War of Independence, the women of Anatolia became fellow workers with their men, as they had been in ancient times; they worked the land, served in hospitals and carried ammunition. The creaking of the “kağnı”, sacred song of liberty, sounded only to the rhythm imposed by those fearless peasant women who, without ceasing to look after their small children, followed the treacherous roads which led to the front.
Ataturk gave a special place amongst his plans for reform to the emancipation of women, who had proved their vitality and patriotism before his eyes. In February 1923, he spoke in Smyrna of the necessity for both sexes to take part in progress, since a society was composed of two sexes both of which were indispensible, and if one of them remained backward, society and the country would be incurably weaken. “Women’s original duty consists of motherhood,” he said. “Let us remember that it is our mother who gives us our first education, and let us recognize the importance of that, at its true value. Our women will be taught all the sciences, and will pass through all the grades of instruction that the men do. The women will go forward to the future together with the men, and will work with them. I was say to our mothers that it is their duty to make us perfect beings; they have achieved their mission in the way they have been able, but from now on we shall need men endowed with another mentality, men who are perfected in a different way. It is the mothers of the future who will educate these men.”
In August 1924, he said publicly: “I must categorically declare when speaking of civilization, that family life is the basis of progress and the source of strength. It is necessary that the male and female elements which constitute the family enjoy their natural rights, and are in a condition to fulfill their duties in the family.”
Turkish women happily entered the new way of life; thousands of women took employment in various enterprise. When the Civil Code was adopted in 1926, women felt the protection of the law within their homes and outside them. This event marked the free and final collaboration with that precious factor that women truly represent in the life of civilized peoples.
After five more years of observation, Ataturk was confident that women could be admitted to the Grand Assembly. They were therefore given the right to be elected to it and vote in it, and in 1936, 20 female members took their seats in Parliament, not as representatives of their sex, but of the various electoral districts which had voted for them.
Any talk that focuses on the emancipation of the Turkish women would be incomplete without referring to the first female aviator, one of the adopted daughters of Ataturk, Sabiha Gökçen who had followed the course of the ‘Türk Kusu’ (The Turkish Bird), with complete success, and also the courses of the School of Military Aviation.

Dr. Celkan’s paper discussed how the current Millennium Goals are actually founded on the principles set forth by Ataturk since his emergence as the liberator of the Turkish nation.

Professor, Dr. E. Nezih Orhon, and Research Asst. Gözde Efe, Anatolian University, Eskisehir, Turkey jointly authored the paper entitled “A Different Approach to Education: The Village Institution Experience of Turkey and the UNMDGS.” Research Asst. Gözde Efe presented it at the conference. Below is the summary of this speech:

Following the acquisition of the War of Independence in the year 1922 and proclamation of the Republic, approximately 80% of Turkish population acquitted from the protection of the Ottoman Empire was dwelling in villages. Only 5% of the population was literate while most of Anatolians were without schools and teachers.
There was need of an institution, which would help support society in development of its own power to bring education to children in villages and to train the teachers. This institution, which was configured to serve in rural regions in many fields was ' Village Institutes'.
Village Institutes of Turkey were founded by a law enacted on April 17, 1940. Village Institutes, provided education to farmers' children who could not go to school because they had to work in fields, helped to increase literacy rates among adults, empowered women through education in these institutes and trained peasants in agriculture to win environmental awareness therefore ensured most efficient use of the farmlands. Atatürk’s work with Village Institutes which he initiated towards the mid of 1930s ensured success 73 years ago of what is in today’s United Nations 2015 Millennium Development goals of universal education, gender equality and women's empowerment, as well as the provisions of environmental sustainability.
This study, led by Ataturk's efforts to implement Village Institutes of Turkey served between 1940-1954 can serve as the example for the realization of United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The study offers an analysis of Village Institutes within the framework of providing Universal Primary Education, achieving Gender Equality, Empowerment of Women and Sustainability of Environment, which are in the objectives of United Nations Millennium Development goals.

The co-organizers are very pleased by Seden Anlar’s participation. She is 19 year old, multi-talented student from Maltepe University, Istanbul, Turkey. Anlar concluded her paper presentation with a song that she wrote and sang for women rights. Her presentation gave a brief overview of “The Women’s Movement in Turkey: From Tanzimat towards Ataturk’s reforms.” A summary of her speech is as follows:

Firstly, we should take a trip in the history of Turkish societies to understand life conditions of Turkish women in which they lived throughout the centuries.

In old Turkish states of Central Asia women were equal with men and had many important roles in the society. Turkish women were not only independent also respected by the society. They had rights for ownership and inheritance. Most importantly some women had an impact on politics; sometimes they had governed the country with their husband. So especially those women in social life were much apparent than their contemporaries in other societies.

The birth of a daughter was a very happy incident for Turkish families. There was no difference between having sons or daughters. Daughters were just as valuable and cherished as sons and they had also the right of inheritance. It is a fact that women in pre-Islamic Turkish society were equal participants with men in the family and in almost all parts of social life: mother at home, farmer on the ground, merchant in the market and even soldier in the war. Furthermore, the influence of women over social and political life was so apparent.

After adoption of Islam by Turkish people, Islamic Law became the main element for the structure of social life. The new religion made many changes in the society and these changes affected women and their status in the society. However, the changes were not striking the status of women. In the Karahanid state, founded in 840 by the Turkish tribes and in the Seljukid Empire, a Turkish-Islamic state has ruled over the parts of Central Asia, Middle East and Asia Minor between 11th and 14th centuries, women have maintained their role in social and cultural life even though their participation and influence on social life has considerably eroded.

Additionally, women lost their equal status of inheritance. Although Islam advices monogamy, it also approves polygamy in the cases of illness, infertility. This meant a loss of status for the Turkish women who had been equal with men and had not taken part in polygamous household.

Dr. Sebahattin Devecioglu, Assistant Professor, Fırat University, Elazig, Turkey presented his paper titled “The Birth of the Celebration of Youth and Sports and the U.N.’s Agenda for Youth and the Encouragement of Sports.” He focused on Youth and Sports within the UN frameworks, and proposed it to be included into the “Beyond 2015” Agenda. He illustrated Ataturk as also being pioneer and visionary of Turkey’s “May 19th Youth and Sport Celebration” as part of official annual holiday since the Atatürk Era as well as investing in education and emphasizing importance of Youth and Ataturk’s full trust in them.

In his paper, Dr. Devecioglu captured the following:

“If we look into life quality and values in the present time, it is seen that Millennium Development Goals (MDGS for 2015), which haven’t targeted beyond the “social protection floor” yet!

Recommendations/opinions regarding developing- improving Youth and Sports Activities in Turkey on the basis of main failures and deficiencies in implementations parallel to their pioneership at `regional and international level`, it is presented in an analytical perspective after evaluating the conditions pertaining to pre-Ataturk, late period of Ottoman Empire, (1900-1922) Ataturk period in the first years of Turkish Republic (1923-1938) and post-Ataturk period.

In Dr. Devecioglu’s paper, the following is argued: “By means of various examples and sources, that goals and policies of Ataturk related to youth and sports, his activities, organizations and studies were among the influencing factors for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which were accepted and taken to national development program by 193 countries and two observers; Palestine and Vatican. This observation is especially a true fact, in particular, within the context of `the least developed”, and “developing countries.

In addition, this study emphasizes the meaning and importance of 19 May Youth and Sports Day and the Republic, presented by Ataturk to the youth, within the development period of Turkish Republic and highlight that contribution and leadership of Ataturk to youth and society is a significant need and an exemplary model across the world.

As a result of assessing the data obtained in this study together with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2015), it is recommended that Youth and Sports be included as a new goal for the Beyond 2015 Agenda of the Millennium Development Goals.”

Robert M. Weir, Writer, Author, Editor, Speaker, Michigan, sent his speech as a power point presentation entitled “Educational Paradigms in Earth’s Global Village.” Weir creates an interesting connection in between Turkey and India and from the global perspective in reference to the MDG#2 Universal Education. Below is a summary of his presentation:

“It takes a village to raise a child,” says an African proverb. “The world is a global village,” many declare. “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime,” Confucius taught. Yet, with the world illiteracy rate at 16.3 percent, the global village is not following this wisdom. We are not adequately educating Earth’s people.

Children enter the world with curiosity, and they learn from their families and neighbors.
At the global level, world leaders strive to eradicate illiteracy. The United Nations’ #2 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is to “Achieve Universal Primary Education” by 2015. Education is part of MDG #4 to “Reduce Child Mortality” because children of educated mothers “are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education.”

UNICEF is “committed to ensuring that all children … realize their right to a quality education.” So, why can 163 people out of every 1000 still not read even their native languages?
Statistics and stories indicate the problem occurs within legislative jurisdictions where geographic breadth is too large to foster individual care and political viewpoints are too narrow to care about the world at large.

Colonizing cultures deprived indigenous people of land, language, and customs and made slavery a staple of their empires’ economies.

International interference with education is happening currently in Tibet where the occupying Chinese forces are obliterating the Tibetan Buddhist language, culture, and religion.
In various nations, governments have banned and burned books to inhibit free thought.
Fortunately, history also provides us with uplifting stories.

One of those is of educational advocate Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881–1938), founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. When Ataturk took office in 1923, his goal was to modernize Turkey through education, which he regarded as the force that would galvanize the nation in social and economic development. Under Ataturk’s leadership, education was declared to be free, secular, co-educational, and compulsory for all children from grade school through graduate school.

On April 23, 1929, the Turkish Grand National Assembly acted on Ataturk’s proposal and decreed that day as a national holiday for children, making Turkey the first nation to celebrate an official Children’s Day—a tradition that continues today.

India is one of eight nations in the world where over two-thirds of the world’s 793 million illiterate adults, most of them women, reside. The illiteracy rate in India is more than 25 % overall, with 18 % of men and 35% of women unable to read. In 2007, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assessed the country’s university system as being “in a state of disrepair.”
Yet many global villagers from developed countries bring educational materials and expertise as well as humanitarian services for underprivileged peasant children.

I see philosophical discussion as the foundation to education, an elevated, thought-provoking method of teaching and learning. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk taught in Turkey’s public places. Socrates and Plato initiated conversation under trees. Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, Ramakrishna, Confucius, and Lao Tzu freely spoke their parables. In our own way, the monks and I did likewise.

Our ability to read and to express oral histories are humanity’s connection to our past, the continuation of our living traditions, and the foundation for our fulfilling future. Education is our tool through which we—all of us in our global village—can raise ourselves and everyone to a higher level of information-sharing and understanding.

David C. Cuthell, Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University presented the paper titled “Against All Odds: Atatürk’s Legacy and Its Impact on Contemporary Turkey.” Abstract of Prof. Cuthell’s paper is as follows:

Mustafa Kemal, better known as Ataturk is often view as the father of modern Turkey. Monuments, buildings, airports, monuments and a host of other civic structures are named after him. Most Turks associate him with military victories dating from World War I and even earlier. His mausoleum in Ankara is the focal point of millions in their pilgrimage to honor his memory. It is therefore ironic that Ataturk is better known as the Turkish George Washington than as the man who led a broad and deep series of social reforms in Turkey. This paper explores the life of the man as well as how the reforms, including women’s rights, educational and legal reform as well as language reform was politicized after his death and how contemporary Turkey is rediscovering not only the process of reforms as they were intended but also the complexities of Ataturk’s genius as a man made of flesh and blood and not a bronze figure.

The afternoon session was also dedicated to Millennium Development Goal #8, “Global Partnerships and International Peace”. This session has aimed tied in and contribute to the Inaugural session from the academia, civil society/non-governmental organizations and independent thinkers perspectives as the other indispensible component of the “Global Partnership and International Peace”. This session is moderated by Gül Çelkan, Associate Prof. Dr. Middle Georgia State College.

The afternoon session began with a paper by Sevinç Özer, Professor, Çanakkale University, Çanakkale, Turkey, titled “Peace vs Pact: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's Concept of Peace”. On behalf of Prof. Ozer, her paper was presented by Prof. Edward Foster. Abstract of Prof. Özer’S paper is as follows:

Atatürk knew that a permanent Peace is not something to be maintained or preserved through pacts, alliances, blocs, unions or in any form of treaties. His vision, as always, went far beyond the surface of the mere conceptualizations of many arrangements of peace-making. His concept of peace, as far as I can see, rises basically on the following four tenets:
1. Turning to and demythologizing ancestral origins (His famous Nutuk/The Speech based on the method of Old Turkic, Göktürk/Orkhon Scripts)
2. An enlightenment idea of freedom and independence of peoples (as a natural reaction to human suffering based on the knowledge of slavery and class distinction) 
 3. A humanitarian belief in the equality of nations (a great respect for man as man)
 4. An Emersonian urge for activism for the protection of the future of the world as a whole (secularism, education, women's rights)

Starting out from the messages sent to the Turkish government on the occasion or after the death of the great visionary leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, her paper illustrated how he has wrought a permanent influence on the future national projects and the policy-making of the various leaders and intellectuals of the world as they appear in these messages. It is also
redefined of Leadership with reference to Atatürk's stance in the face of wars and domination putting an emphasis on his concept of Peace."

Augustine G. Johnson, Executive Director; Martin T. Tumoe, Chairman and Pauline Tonnelle, Project Director of LCA-Global Initiative (Liberia Cultural Association) in Liberia authored the following paper, “Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger through Universal Education.” The LCA-Global Initiative’s Executive Director in New York, Rev James Bestman, presented the paper on behalf of his organization in Liberia. The summary of the paper is as follows:

The government of Liberia is at a crossroads. After almost 15 years of civil conflict, local and international non-governmental organizations have surveyed the social economic and educational landscape opportunities to assist in sustainable development projects in Liberia.

It is an established standard that no government has all the resources of ideals and finances to meet the needs of its citizens. We need the collaboration of global partners of strong vibrant force to reach out to us and to help our government, through the Liberian Cultural Association-Global Initiatives Inc, a non-governmental organization to utilize our manpower energies in the most efficient way.

Economic stability and the revitalization of Liberian’s infrastructure must go hand in hand with our education and food reforms which to a large extent forms the basis of our hope and expectation upon which our children of this generation and the destitute and underprivileged and jobless will find a glimmer of light. As we deliberate during this conference, it is our hope that strategies will be developed for a long-term sustainable goal in our country, Liberia.

We command these distinguished custodians, knowledgeable of the tireless and immeasurable support of the international community to our rebuilding process, I feel a ray of hope for our democratization and economic sustainable efforts.

We sincerely urge our international partners to closely work together with us to substantively address Liberia’s sustainable needs, as we count on representative groups of conference participants to help implement the strategic plans.

We shall now proceed to address the objective of our goals featuring our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges.

The paper focused on Liberia, but also covered the region and referred to Turkey in relation to the MDG#2.The conclusion of the paper suggests that Universal Education is/will be the key to combat hunger and poverty. LCA Global Initiative also presented both as a civil society organization as well as a voice from one of the least developed countries and its struggle to achieve the MDGS.

Hamid Akin Ünver, Dr. Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey, presented his paper titled “Sovereignty and Legitimacy as the Basis for Peace: Atatürk’s Principles and the future of the Arab Spring.”

Dr. Ünver, started his presentation responding to one of Dr. Cuthell’s statement that during Atatürk’s Era, there were merely one-two democratic leader(s) in the world as we understand today. Dr. Ünver viewed the concept of the conference through lens of the Arab Spring. Summary of Dr. Ünver’s presentation is as follows:

In 1918, at the end of World War I, the breakaway states of the collapsed Ottoman Empire faced two choices of nation building and modernization; that of Amir Faisal – the leader of the Arab Revolt, whose democratization/modernization model prescribed a strong British presence and oversight, and that of Atatürk, who argued that countries can only modernize and democratize if they are completely sovereign and independent, with no outside oversight or mandate. The Arab countries that followed Faisal’s model fell into an insurmountable legitimacy deficit, never able to fully modernize or democratize, being hubs of anti-Western thought. Turkey on the other hand, was the only country emerging from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire fully independent and sovereign, making an unprecedented progress in modernity and establishing a representative political system, also being a close ally of the West and a part of NATO.

While Turkey maintained its independence and legitimacy since its foundation, Arab countries have been plagued by repeated regime-changing movements, lack of state-building consolidation and poor democratic record.

In his presentation, Dr. Ünver eloquently dealt with how Atatürk’s ideas and practice on sovereignty shaped Turkish modernization and democracy, contrasting this progress with that of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Specifically, his metrics of comparing Turkey to Egypt, Syria and Iraq are:
- Regime legitimacy as the basis for domestic peace,
- The role of the military as a domestic suppression tool in the Arab countries versus its role as a deterrent factor in Turkey, as the basis of Turkey’s less problematic relations with its neighbors during Atatürk period,
- Modernization as a pre-requisite for good inter-state relations. (The case of Atatürk and Pahlavi period Turkish-Iranian relations),
- Secularism as a bridge between states with different religions and how to maintain cooperative structures in regional systems with more than one religion.
In conclusion, Dr. Ünver’s presentation compared Turkey’s record to that of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, discussed why Atatürk’s principles on sovereignty, modernization and secularism are currently the most relevant models for the post-Arab Spring in the Middle East and why such model is a serious framework for any supranational structure aiming to achieve international peace.

Christopher Vassillopulos, Professor of Political Science at Eastern Connecticut State University, presented his speech titled “Ataturk: Homeric Hero.” In his paper, Prof. Vassillopulos compared on the personnel level both Homer and Atatürk. Summary of Prof. Vassillopulos’s paper is as follows:

Ataturk is arguably the greatest soldier/statesman of the 20th century and perhaps has only a handful of peers throughout all history. Less well known is his capacity for friendship, forgiveness and reconciliation. These profound and underappreciated values were an important part of his personality and were inextricable from his extraordinary success in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

Prof. Vassillopulos’s paper illustrated this proposition with an analysis of Homer’s greatest hero, Achilles, who can be seen as the ancestral archetype of Ataturk. Prof. Vassillopulos concluded his presentation by quoting of Atatürk in the following lines (Speech at Cankaya Pavilion, 29 October 1933):

“Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

On behalf of Mehmet Özay, Professor Emeritus, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, Bircan Ünver presented a brief summary of his paper titled “The UN Millennium Goals in Gandhian and Ataturkist Perspectives” as the concluding presentation of the Paper presentations.

Prof. Özay presented Ataturk as a nation-builder who is still very much relevant today in achieving global peace, prosperity and development.

The UN Millennium Development Goals (UN MDG), focused on Human Development Indicators (HDI) are very much Ghandian.  HDI were established in 2000 under the intellectual leadership of Amaratya Sen, a Nobel Laureate in Economics of Indian origin with strong Ganhdian roots.  Considerable progress has been achieved since 2000 in implementing the MD Goals, but in two specific areas MDG strategy has failed: (1) It is little known beyond the specialist development community, and (2) development aid has been declining, owing, among many factors, to world financial crises.

Looking beyond 2015, when a new strategy of MDG will be designed and implemented, it is argued that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk can show the way forward. He needs to be globalized. Globalizing Ataturk, making him relevant to the Third World today, one is amazed at how much similarity there is between him and Ganhdi. Ataturk’s Golden Era, from 1923 to 34 stands out as a magnificent example of social and economic development: democratic, egalitarian, pro-rural and generally peaceful.

During this period, after winning military victories, Ataturk embarked on a fury of social and economic reform, peaceful and radical ...just like Ganhdi in India. Both leaders, contemporaries, fought Western imperialism. Both sought national independence through mobilizing mass support for national independence and then reform to empower the citizens. Ataturk travelled all over Anatolia, the Turkish heartland, (just like Gandhi on his marches), mobilizing, educating and showing by example the way to modernity, development and democracy. In his dress reform, adoption of surnames and European calendar, the introduction of the Latin alphabet, his agricultural experiments, village institutes, and gender equality, Ataturk believed in social justice.

Ataturk wanted to make the peasant and the villager “the master” of the Turkish Republic. He believed in democracy. For him sovereignty emanated from the grass-roots. “National sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people” that is the motto enshrined in Turkish  Parliament today. Mass education conquered ignorance and paved the way for secular democracy based on “one man/woman, one vote.”

Finally Ataturk’s vision of a prosperous Anatolia is coming to pass, some seven decades after his death, as the Turkey’s center of economic gravity moves to such growth centers as Kayseri, Konya, Gaziantep, Adana, Manisa, etc. Next, hopefully it will expand into Diyarbakir and southeast regions of Anatolia.

The Anatolian peasant is empowered through education and socio-economic development...but much yet remains to be accomplished. Of course, there are major dissimilarities as well between Ataturk and Gandhi. They fought and won against Western Imperialism, Ataturk militarily, Gandhi through non-violence.  As well, Ataturk did not hesitate to borrow from the West in his secular, modernizing project, whereas Gandhi was guided by Hindu spiritualism and religion. But they both had an abiding belief in the nobility of the peasant, a deep confidence in the dignity of the individual, and in the peaceful pursuit of human development (civilization). What our divided and conflict-ridden world needs today are leaders like Ataturk and Gandhi.  

The Conference concluded with a concert by the celebrated musicians Dr. Aysegul Durakoglu, pianist and professor of music, College of Arts and Letters, Stevens Instituteof Technology, and Yigit Karatas, violinist. Prior to Dr. Durakoglu's performance, she presented a paper titled, "Ataturk, Creating a Universal Language in Turkish Musical Culture”.

In Dr. Durakoglu’s paper, she has focused on Ataturk’s reforms in the development of music to transform Turkish musical culture. Summary of Dr. Durakoglu’s presentation is as follow:

Ataturk, who stated that culture was the foundation of the Turkish Republic, advanced cultural reforms in conjunction with the political, economic, legal, social and educational reforms needed to further the newly formed Turkish Republic. His principal ideal was to create a nation with a background steeped in the artistic and cultural traditions that would be developed to a high level of refinement. Music, in particular, holds a special place in Ataturk’s ideals to advance the Turkish culture. Ataturk was a leader with a vision who knew that music served as a unifying element at all levels of society and that it functioned as a medium for expressing individual and collective feelings and aspirations. He also thought that music existing in Turkish culture was the music of an exalted civilization, and he felt the need to bring it to higher standards by using western techniques combined with traditional elements.

Ataturk was aware that the Turkish nation had great potential in music, and he aimed to improve it by using Western polyphonic techniques fundamentally influenced by Turkish Folk Music. Atatürk was always fond of Turkish music, and never criticized Turkish music. However, he enjoyed listening to Western music as well, and opened a society unaccustomed to Western sounds through an instructional approach of playing it on radio stations. For that, he was strongly criticized by Turkish music experts, saying that Ataturk was trying to ban Turkish music from the radio stations.

Right after the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Ataturk did not wait at all! In such a devastating time, following the Independence War, there were 13 million people, almost no budget, no schools, hospitals, or restaurants in Turkey’s capital Ankara. Meanwhile, Ataturk was sending young musicians to abroad for musical training and planning to establish music institutions such as conservatories, orchestras, and opera houses. These were the efforts of a leader who believed the necessity of showing the power of Turkish music to the western world by using the national and international elements integrated with Turkish cultural values and musical traditions, and wished to take the new nation to a different place in the world.

The first generation of Turkish composers called “Turkish Five” was sent to Europe by Ataturk on state scholarship to receive their music education in Europe’s finest music schools. After they returned to Turkey, they conducted research on the modal and rhythmic structures of Turkish folk music, and recomposed them with Western techniques. They aimed to add a polyphonic character to the monophonic structures of Turkish melodies. This is how they were able to create a universal language that was based on Turkish musical tradition. Among these composers are Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Cemal Resid Rey, Necil Kazim Akses, Ferid Alnar, and Ahmed Adnan Saygun. Now, in today’s Turkey there had been at least three generation of composers who continuously grow in numbers and who have been internationally recognized as well.

As the third crucial component of the conference, Dr. Durakoglu’s paper was conceptually linked with Ms. Susan Bilello’s presentation at the Inaugural Panel that culture is one of the key elements to advance countries. Dr. Durakoglu’s paper was followed by an excellent piano performance from the first period of Turkish polyphonic composers. She was accompanied by violist Yigit Karatas, brought in a new angle and dimension into the conference as well as completed to its full spectrum presentations as the conference was initially designed and announced.

The co-chairs of the conference, jointly signed and Bircan Ünver presented “Appreciation for Participation” certificate to each of the Paper presenters of the second day of the conference.

Permanent Representative of N. Cyprus to the United Nations, Ambassador Mehmet Dana, and Third Secretary Sertac Guven were present at the Inaugural session, and the President of Turkish-American Federation Ali Cinar briefly attended the morning session of April 20. Several representatives of civil society and NGO representatives, faculty members and students as well as general public attended the two-day conference, and lecture-concert.

MEDIA: Anatolian News Agency (Cahit Oktay), Hurriyet News Paper (Razi Canikligil), Turkish Press Atache (Islam Dogru) and HaberTurk (Gulzade Ozgur) were present at the High Level Inaugural session of the conference.

Estimated total attendees for 2 days (April 19, 20 and including the concert session) about 150 -160.

The conference was sponsored by Ataturk Society of America and the ONE UN New York.


The two-day international conference has immensely contributed to the discussion of the Millennium Development Goals on the ambassadorial, United Nations, academic, non-governmental levels as well as among independent thinkers and students. Atatürk’s development agenda on all levels for Turkey was examined extensively during the conference, and showed that they are more advanced than targeted MDGS for the 2015 for the world.

During the conference, through aforementioned diverse presentations, one of the most accomplished world leaders of the 20th century and founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's (1881-1938) visions, principles, and his development agendas and their implementation from the 1920s on until his departure in 1938, which are nailed down as the pioneering acts on the multiple level and dimensions with the UN Millennium Development Goals for 2015! Further, the conference is also brought in several proposals to be considered for inclusion into the Beyond 2015 Agenda of the MDGS.

Afternoon session of the second day of the conference presented “Global Partnership and International Peace”, at this time from the academia, NGOs and independent thinkers that also acted as the counterpart of the Inaugural Session. At the conference, along with his visionary leadership and outstanding futuristic personalities, Ataturk was also profiled and highlighted as a humanitarian who believed in the equality of girls-boys, youth, women, peasants, peoples at large and nations, and his urge for activism for the protection of the future of the world as a whole (secularism, education, women's rights).

Overall, the conference’s deliverance also illustrated a very interesting spectrum in amongst different presentations and three components of the conference. In this context and based on the each Statement or Paper’s focused goal on MDGS; each has created a conceptual connection and interaction with one to another that also functioned as if the counterpart of the dedicated theme(s) on the regional as well as global level.

Further, the organizers aim the conference’s proceedings in a book when the conditions met.

The conference was reported in over 100 media outlets including print, on-line, and television both in the US and Turkey. For the conference related news and announcements along with 2 photos from the conference, please see the following link :

Hande Subasilar, Prof. Edward Foster, Prof. Mehmet Ozay, Dr. Aysegul Durakoglu and Prof. Sevinc Ozer.

This REPORT may be reproduced under the following conditions only:
1. A paragraph or Introductory section or only one section of the report could be reproduced with permission and should included full credit is as follow: “This REPORT of the PIONEER OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: ATATÜRK” International Conference was originally e-published by The Light Millennium”
2) Below hyper link to the actual REPORT should be included:
3) As the full Report, please refer to its original link or not permitted for re-production. It also will be part of the planned BOOK publication.
4) Summary of the Conference may be fully re-produced with its following full credits:
5)The conference’s video-recording for a mini television series (4+1 Highlights) or 6+1 parts) NEEDS to be edited in order to be scheduled on QPTV.Org, MNN.Org, and on the web in Fall/Winter 2013. To that end, The Light Millennium (with tax-exempt 501c3 status) seeks for sponsorships/funders for its post-production. If you are interested to be one of the mini-television series sponsors, please email to: Thank You.
6) Timeline of the Book Publishing: Depending on availability of sponsorship, in Fall/Winter 2013 or Spring 2014.
7) ALL the presented PAPERS during the conference will be available on The Light Millennium's website.

PROGRAM (FINAL-full) – April 19-20:
FLYER (Final):

International Conference: (Google research April 24-26, 2013) (as of March 20, 2013)

Facebook page of the Conference:

Co-Chairs: Bircan Ünver, The Light Millennium; and Prof. Edward Foster, College of Arts and Letter at Stevens 
Members: Figen Bingül (Editing), Dr. Sebahattin Devecioglu (Outreach and Social Media), Dr. Gul Celkan (Outreach), Dr. Aysegul Durakoglu (Outreach), and Mujgan Hedges (Outreach & hosting a speaker from Turkey). Special Thanks to: Ülkü Ünsoy for her contribution into the Sponsorship Package.
VOLUNTEERS (alphabetical order): Erman Sener (4/19), Xia Hau (4/19-20), Erkan Senses (4/19-20), Ya Sun (4/19), Khady Sylla-Ba (4/19-20) and Elizabeth (Liz) Lennon (4/19).
Volunteer & Coordinator (Stevens): Erkan Senses
OUTREACH SUPPORT: Radyo Turkum, Ataturk New York Art Cultural Center, Erkan Senses, Associations of Turkish-American Federation –FTAA, International Networking, Ataturk Society of United Kingdom, and through several social media groups.
VIDEO PRODUCTION CREW: Rene Valdivia (Technical Director, Camera), Richard Graziano (Lighting, Camera), Cora Fernandez (Production Assistant)
PHOTOGRAPHY: Cora Fernandez, The Light Millennium

Thank you, to ALL for all your given support and being part of this conference... B.Ü.

Concept Related links:
1921 Constitution
1924 The (First) New Constitution of Turkey
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly [without reference to a Main Committee (A/55/L.2)]
55/2. United Nations Millennium Declaration
2000 Millennium Development Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly:
Millennium Development Goals for 2015:
BEYOND 2015:
34th Session of the General Assembly – Official Document – 19 December 1979
UNESCO - Turkey, Profile of Education:
UNESCO Centenary of Ataturk’s birth - The Executive Board (Page: 21) November1979
The Unesco COURIER - November 1981

REPORT April 19, 2013 Full REPORT - April 19-20, 2013 (pdf) CONCERT Program
SUMMARY PROGRAM - Final (with bios) FLYER

- Reformatted & Updated on May 27, 2013.

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