Statement On Turkey’s Official Position Regarding The 2015 Centenary Commemorations Of The Çanakkale Land Battles
The year 2015 will mark the Centenary of the Çanakkale Land Battles, which shaped the course of the First World War and changed the destiny of many nations around the world, including Turkey.
The Çanakkale Battles present unique examples of friendship that were borne out of the war. To mark this special occasion, the Heads of State and Government of the countries whose soldiers fought and fell together in Çanakkale, will be invited by the Government of Turkey to the ceremonies to be held on 24th April 2015.
The ceremonies and services both on 24 and 25 April 2015, are to be held in the Gelibolu Peninsula Historical National Park where all the battles took place and the military cemeteries are located.
ANZAC Day ceremonies/services will start per custom with the Dawn Ceremony in the ANZAC Cove. The maximum capacity of the ceremony site is 10.500. This figure was agreed upon through close coordination among Turkey, Australia and New Zealand, taking into consideration the safety and security of all participants in the ceremony site, including health care and emergency services. 8000 of the capacity will be used by Australia and 2000 by New Zealand.
Being well aware that this figure falls short of the public demand in Australia and New Zealand, Turkish authorities have issued exceptional permissions for the holding of additional services for Australia and New Zealand in August 2015.
Accordingly there will be only one official ceremony/service on 25th April. Additional services will be organized on 6th August by Australia and on 8th August by New Zealand.
However, we are informed that there are a number of projects submitted from different circles to commemorate this special occasion and to address the enthusiasm of Australian and New Zealand people to be present during the ceremonies/services. All projects are naturally examined in a positive light.
On the other hand, the safety and security of all participants are the responsibility of Government of Turkey. As such, appropriate safety measures need to be introduced.
Therefore, the application by some tour operators for cruise ships to anchor in the ANZAC Cove on 25th April to enable passengers on board to watch the ceremonies from the sea has been diverted to other suitable places on safety grounds. Those ships will be able to anchor at two different places, namely “Karanlık Koy” and “Saros Bay” and passengers on board will be able to watch the ceremonies live from screens.
Although the official response of the Government of Turkey has been formally communicated through diplomatic channels, some tour operators continue to make advertisements about tours which offer participants to watch the ceremonies on board cruise ships in the ANZAC Cove and land at the ANZAC Cove after the services. Another tour operator’s plan is to set up a “Tent City” in the ANZAC Cove.
It is a source of concern for the Government of Turkey that the Australian and New Zealand public opinion would be deceived by the advertisements which give inaccurate information.
It is our expectation that the relevant authorities in Australia and New Zealand will take the necessary measures to inform the public opinion of the previously agreed upon arrangements by all sides.
We also hope that Australian and New Zealand authorities will guide their respective public opinion and take the necessary measures to convince them to attend the alternative services.
It is our expectation that the Centenary of the Çanakkale Land Battles will be an occasion not only to commemorate this important anniversary but also strengthen the friendship that was borne out of the war among our countries.
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