Turkey on April 23 marked the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with authorities allowing limited participation to only official ceremonies.
Officials attended ceremonies held at the current parliament, the first parliament building and Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Ataürk.
Since his election as president in 2014, Erdoğan has not attended the April 23 ceremony held in Anıtkabir, and this year has not been any different.
Daily Sözcü reported that main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has been the only political party leader that has participated in the April 23 ceremony in Anıtkabir.
Education Minister Ziya Selçuk visited the monument with children and wrote in the "memorial notebook," whereas Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop left a wreath of carnations.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan attended a flagpole ceremony held at Istanbul's Çamlıca Hill later in the day. Standing among children more than a dozen children, he pressed the button to raise a giant Turkish flag on the country's tallest flagpole of 111 meters.
"We are in an effort to leave our republic, which is approaching its 100th year, to the next generations by growing and strengthening it in every field. We are in an effort to reach the 2023 targets," he said during the ceremony.
In past years, April 23 was marked with parades, celebrations and schoolchildren acting out ministerial roles.
Atatürk called for an election amid the war of independence after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I. On April 23, 1920, the Grand National Assembly held its first session.
On April 23, 1929, upon Atatürk’s proposal, the parliament decreed April 23 as a national holiday dedicated to children. Thus Turkey became the first country in the world that celebrates an official Children’s Day.