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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22072

Joint Press Conference with the Prime Minister of Turkey, HE Recep Tayyip Erdo#287;an Parliament House, Canberra

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 08/12/2005

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 22072

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:

Well I'm delighted to host this joint news conference with His Excellency Recep Erdogan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey. I welcome the Prime Minister very warmly, it being the occasion of the first ever visit to Australia by a Turkish Prime Minister. I had the good fortune of being a guest of the Prime Minister in Turkey in April of this year. We formed a good friendship and working relationship and I am so pleased that he has been able to return that visit by coming here to Canberra.

More than 100,000 Australians have a Turkish heritage and that along with the very strong historical links formed out of the circumstances of Gallipoli and World War I, of course are very much part of the basis of the relationship. But the focus of our discussions has been very much on the future of the relationship. Turkey has a pivotal role as a member of NATO, as an applicant for membership of the European Union and as a country with very special links with many nations in the Middle East.

Australia greatly admires Turkey's stand against terrorism and the personal leadership that the Prime Minister has brought to dialogues and alliances between religions and civilisation as a way of combating the modern threat of terrorism. We have witnessed the signing of memoranda of understanding, covering working holiday visas and agriculture and I've also been able to announce the inaugural recipients of scholarships under or our endeavour scholarship programme covering exchanges between Turkey and Australia.

My wife and I look forward very much to entertaining the Prime Minister and his wife at a Parliamentary Luncheon shortly where I will be able to say a little more about the importance of the relationship between our two countries. And I at the conclusion of the translation invite the Prime Minister to say a few words and then we'll take a few questions.

PRIME MINISTER ERDO#286;AN:

Thank you very much Mr Prime Minister. I would like to start off by saying that I am very grateful for the hospitality that has been shown, both to myself and to my delegation since the beginning of our visit to Australia yesterday.

Of course the relations between the two countries had its start in March 18th 1915. Most people will say that wars generally breed a lot of hatred and violence whereas in our case the war in (inaudible) has led to a very special relationship between the two countries based on friendship and peace. And we see the reflection of this friendly and peaceful relationship between our two countries in Australia and New Zealand and the future will be based further on this friendly relationship.

Although the beginning of our relations dates back to a battle, more than 100,000 almost 150,000 Turks have come to Australia to live here and they live in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and many other parts of Australia, thereby contributing to the sectors, various sectors in Australia. And I believe that this solidarity that already exists will further strengthen the peace.

Today we have discussed many economic issues amongst ourselves. We have also touched upon political issues and we have also discussed the cooperation in areas of culture and education and we had an opportunity to discuss how we can further strengthen the relations between Turkey and Australia - both in our one on one and in the delegation meeting.

And we had the opportunity to sign, to witness the signing of two important agreements. One of these agreements is an agreement on technical scientific cooperation in the area of agriculture, and the other agreement pertains to holiday and work visas. I believe that these two agreements will be very important in further developing our relations in the future. And we will also have lunch with the Prime Minister after this press conference. And thank you very much in advance for you as the gracious host at the lunch. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:

Thank you. Two each.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard (inaudible) road works at Gallipoli discussed in the preservation of Anzac Cove?

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:

Well as you all know work has been suspended pending the outcome of the study, that was discussed, and we'll continue to work in a very constructive way with the Turkish authorities regarding those issues. Turkish turn.

JOURNALIST:

The question to Honourable Howard, John Howard, what kind of contributions are you planning to make in Gallipoli? You mentioned earlier that you would have constructive approach. What would be the kinds of things that you would be interested in doing there?

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:

Well I should make it clear at the outset that anything that Australia proposes in relation to Gallipoli respects fully Turkish sovereignty. Australia as is well known is interested in preserving the historic character of the area and we are in discussion with the Turkish Government regarding a proposal to list under Australian legislation, in Australia, the Gallipoli peninsular as a site having special historic significance. Such a listing would of course fully respect Turkish sovereignty. Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, on a domestic issue. As we approach the end of the Parliamentary year and you turn your gaze towards next year, how much will tax reform feature as a priority for the Government and do you share the views of the Deputy Prime Minister when he said yesterday that tax reform must focus on the entire tax paying base, not just the top three percent or so?

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:

Well we have never been a Government, in relation to taxation matters, which is focussed on the top bracket. We are a Government for all Australians, and when we make decisions on taxation, we will have in mind the need to govern for all Australians and not just a small number of Australians. You are allowed to make a contribution Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER ERDO#286;AN:

Let me make a contribution on Gallipoli. For us too, Gallipoli is very important. It is very important historically and it is a national park and the people who have fallen in Gallipoli have special importance in our hearts as well. Because this has something to do with our understanding of civilisations and cultures. We place a lot of importance to those who have fallen there. And so everything in Gallipoli will be in line with the historical facts and realities. We will preserve the historical character of Gallipoli and anyone who visits Gallipoli both from Turkey or elsewhere in the world will be proud of Gallipoli. And you can rest assured that your sons are our guests and they lie side by side with our sons who have fallen there.

JOURNALIST:

Australia and Turkey are in the F35 project with nine countries. Have you discussed any defence issues in your discussions here today?

PRIME MINISTER ERDO#286;AN:

This was not on our agenda in our meetings- discussions today.

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER ERDO#286;AN:

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 22072