Within the scope of the project carried out in cooperation with Union of Turkish World Municipalities (TDBB), Zeytinburnu Municipality and the Kazakhstan Embassy in Ankara, the old station square which was located in the center of Zeytinburnu was named as “Abay Kunanbayev” who is a poet and also considered as the founder of Kazakh written literature, intellectual and politician. The opening ceremony of the Kunanbayev Street and placement of the bust of Abay Kunanbayev was held on 18 March 2021.

The opening ceremony was attended by Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Ekrem İmamoğlu, Mayor of Zeytinburnu Ömer Arısoy, TDBB Secretary General Fahri Solak, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Ankara Abzal Saparbekuly, deputies, representatives of NGOs and several guests.

Mayor of Zeytinburnu Ömer Arısoy, in his speech at the ceremony, expressed that poets are the key actors in their major roles of establishing the cultures and the languages. Arısoy also posited that the poems, works, translations, compositions and folk music knowledge of Abay Kunanbayev made a great contribution in the Kazakh literature and Kazakh people; in that way he is one of the founders of Kazakh literature. Arısoy also put forward as follows: “We admire Abay Kunanbayev as much as we do for Yunus Emre and Mehmet Akif in Turkey. Abay Kunanbayev who died in 1904 made a significant impact on Kazakh literature with his great works. We believe that great artists are not only the cultural heritage for their home country but also for the whole world. Therefore, in order to show our respect to his legacy and to greet the great poet Kunanbayev with our Kazakh fellow citizens, we named a school, a street and lastly one of our squares of our district in Zeytinburnu after him. We wish that Abay Kunanbayev Street will be beneficial for everyone”.

Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Ekrem İmamoğlu, in his speech at the ceremony, stated that I believe that the worldwide reputation of Abay Kunanbayev both in Kazakhstan and in the whole world stemmed from his way of thinking which is far ahead of his time, and added that “The subjects he addressed in his works embraces all universal values”.

Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mukhtar Tileuberdi said that, “I am very glad to meet all of you at this great event today. Since the time of our independence, Turkey has always supported us in all aspects. Within this time frame our friendship between Kazakhstan and Turkey was strengthened further. Today, our cooperation topics cover almost all areas. Within the framework of this visit, I met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu for the further cooperation of our relations. Today, I have come together with you in the heart of Istanbul for this significant opening ceremony. Istanbul has always been a very important city for Kazakhs. In this blessed city, there is a large diaspora of Kazakh people. A large number of Kazakh citizens work in here and many of our students take their education here. Today, we have come together to open the monument of Abay Kunanbayev that also gives his name to this beautiful street. Abay has always encouraged people to head science, humanity and art in his works. Abay’s works are very compatible with the works of Mehmet Akif. Hereby, I congratulate all Turkish people for the 100th anniversary of the Turkish national anthem written by Mehmet Akif and I also congratulated the 106th anniversary of the victory of Dardanelles War. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this opening and I thank everyone here wishing that the friendship of Kazakh and Turkish nations will be forever”.

After the speeches, the opening ceremony of the street and the bust was completed.

About Abay Kunanbayev

Abay Kunanbayev was born on 22 August 1845. Abay has always been very important for the modern Kazakh literature. Abay received his primary education with private teachers. Then he studied madrasa in Semey city. He examined Arabic, Persian and Russian literatures in very detail. He also interested in classical Ottoman poems. He wrote lyrical poems by examining the lives of the Kazakhs. He leaded the Kazakhs to a contemporary education, encouraging them to abandon the nomadic life and to switch them the new professions. People in the Kazakh steppes know his poems very well. He expressed his ideas not through poems but by prose. Most of his prose collection was in a book called Kara Sözder (Folk Words) was written in the 1890s. Muhtar Avezov (1897-1961), one of the famous writers of the Kazakhs, named his great novel of 4 volumes as “Abay Road”. Abay passed away on the Balaşakpak plateau on the ridges of Chingiz Mountain on 23 July 1904. His grave is located in Abay district of Semey province.

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