By Esin Isik, Ilkay Guder, Sinan Uslu, Baris Gundogan and Yasemin Kalyoncuoglu
ANKARA (AA) – Turkish president received young people and athletes at the presidential complex in Ankara on Friday to mark the May 19 Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they are determined to include more young people in all administrative bodies, reminding that his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party reduced the minimum age limit to be parliamentarian and mayor to 18 from 30.
The age of candidacy in Turkey has been lowered to 18 from 25 last month after the constitutional change, as it was 30 until 2006.
Stating that the priority of the government has been young people and education, he said: "We increased the budget of the Ministry of National Education from 7.5 billion liras ($2 billion) to 85 billion liras ($23.7 billion), the largest share in the national budget."
Erdogan invited young people to actively participate in political, cultural, social and sports fields, saying that he is proud of hearing victories from athletes in tournaments, wishing more success.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also addressed young people and athletes, saying that they have "destroyed the walls between the youth and the state."
He said that they established the Ministry of Youth and Sports to provide more opportunities to youngsters, as the population of age group between 15 and 24 is nearly 13 million in Turkey.
Noting that the government has removed many obstacles to equal opportunity in education such as tuition fees in state universities, he said the number of universities has been increased to 183 from 76 since 2001.
"We, as the government, as the state, will always be with you and we will continue to support you with all our means," he added.
Speaking at the meeting, Youth and Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic said that young people in Turkey have many opportunities to be successful in their lives as the government has undertaken facilities and projects across the country.
"We want one thing, use the facilities well," he stated.
May 19 Youth and Sports Day, a national holiday, marks the beginning of Turkey’s War of Independence, and the emergence of modern Turkey, which is celebrated through official ceremonies across the nation.
May 19, 1919, was the day Mustafa Kemal, later to become Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul to organize the war that saw the remnants of the Ottoman Empire transformed into modern Turkey four years later.