Turkish president arrives in ‘Turktown’

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TURKISH President Abdullah Gül has arrived in Gosport on a visit to the town’s naval cemetery.

President Gül and his wife Hayrünnisa are attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the Royal Haslar Hospital, where there are many graves belonging to Turkish sailors.

They will then be taken on a tour of the Turkish cemetery within the Haslar hospital’s grounds.

The 26 graves are those of some of the crew of two Turkish ships welcomed to Gosport in the 1850 - and ever since the town has been coloquially known as Turktown.

The President laid a wreath at the Turkish enclosure in Haslar’s Royal Naval Cemetery.

Imam Asim Hafiz is the Muslim chaplain to the British armed forces and he conducted the ceremony.

He said: ‘This ceremony is to mark the co-operation and respect between two nations.

‘I think it was a fantastic celebration.

‘It is a very interesting history.’

After placing flowers at the graves of each Turkish sailor, President Gul met with members of Gosport’s Turkish community who had gathered to meet him inside the cemetery.

Afterwards, President Gül will go to Portsmouth Naval Base for a tour of one of the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 Destroyers, HMS Dauntless.

His wife will be shown around the HMS Victory Museum and they will both have lunch on board the ship.