Turkey warns Australian MPs against further efforts to recognize Armenian Genocide
Turkey has warned Australia against any further formal recognition of the Armenian genocide to avoid undermining its relationship and the special centenary commemoration of Gallipoli in 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
And NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has retaliated, saying it was ''deplorable'' for the 100-year anniversary of the Gallipoli landing to be used for political purposes.
Turkey has also made it clear that NSW MPs are not welcome to attend the ceremony because of bipartisan support for a motion moved in Parliament by Mr O'Farrell in May which recognises and condemns the Armenian genocide.
The warning from the Turkish speaker of the parliament, Cemil Cicek, has come on the eve of a public ballot for 8000 tickets reserved for Australians to attend the special ceremony in Gallipoli on April 25, 2015. The ballot opens at midnight on Friday and closes on January 31.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald through an interpreter, Mr Cicek said:
"One of only two things that could disrupt good relations between Turkey and Australia", he said, was for Australia "to support any claims about genocide without hearing the Turkish side ... this could cause huge rifts between the nations and even jeopardise commemorations around Gallipoli."
Mr Cicek called on the NSW Parliament to withdraw its resolution, saying reports of an Armenian genocide were ''still inconclusive''.
''We have no problem with Armenian communities in Turkey,'' he said.
''We have a problem with the Armenian diaspora who are still propagating this argument.''
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ruled that only four federal MPs including himself will receive VIP tickets, but they will not be offered to premiers or state MPs.
The NSW Premier said two similar resolutions had been moved in past years without any similar threats being made to disrupt the 100-year anniversary of the Anzac landing in Gallipolli.
''Bipartisan motions concerning the genocide were passed by the NSW Parliament in 1996 and 2012,'' Mr O'Farrell said. ''It's deplorable anyone associated with the Turkish government would try and use next year's centenary of the Gallipoli landing for political purposes.''
In opposition, Treasurer Joe Hockey called for formal recognition of the Armenian genocide in Federal Parliament, but is now reluctant to make any further comments that might jeopardise his dealings with Turkey in forums including the G20 which Australia will host next year. In May 2011, he said the Armenian genocide ''is one of the least known, least understood and least respected human tragedies of the modern era''.
Armenian National Committee of Australia executive director Vache Kahramanian said it was ''extremely troubling'' the Turkish government had threatened to ban NSW MPs who had recognised the Armenian genocide.
''For almost 100 years the Turkish state has continued to deny what is publicly and widely known as a historical reality.''
A spokesman for the Turkish embassy said that while it could not respond to the comments, ''it is highly inappropriate for foreign parliaments to politicize this matter and pass one-sided judgments on a controversial period of Turkish history''.