PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22073

Address to the Parliamentary Luncheon in honour of the visit to Australia by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan 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: Speech

Transcript ID: 22073

Your Excellency Recep Erdo#287;an, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, and Madam Erdo#287;an, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted on behalf of the Government and the people of Australia to host this lunch in honour of the first ever visit to Australia by a Prime Minister of Turkey. The bonds between Australia and Turkey have a special and very personal character. They are based very much on that traumatic event in 1915 and out of which grew, over the years, a great bond of affection and respect which is honoured with increasing passion and emotion by the young of both of our countries. And anyone who has experienced the annual pilgrimage that so many Australians undertake to the Gallipoli Peninsular and receive the warmth and generous hospitality of the people of Turkey will understand the unique character of the relationship between our two countries.

Our two nations have also been drawn together on a personal basis by the fact that somewhere between one hundred and 150,000 Australians have a Turkish heritage. And I understand Your Excellency had the opportunity yesterday of visiting many Australians of Turkish descent in Melbourne. But of course our relationship is very much about the current world and the future world and it's a world in which Turkey occupies a very special place by reason of geography and culture and a capacity to make a unique contribution to the ever expanding embrace of the European Union.

Turkey as we all know, is uniquely placed between Asia and Europe. It is currently applying to be a member of the European Union and Australia wishes Turkey well in her application to join the European Union.

I also take this opportunity to mark with great respect the strong stand that the people of Turkey have taken against terrorism. Terrorism has touched Turkey as it has so many other nations. Turkey is a steadfast opponent of terrorism. Turkey has contributed generously and significantly to the Coalition efforts in Afghanistan and in other areas is an ally of Australia in the fight against terrorism. Some 450 Turkish soldiers are currently in Afghanistan and at one stage, they numbered some 3000.

The links between Australia and Turkey are based therefore not only on those emotional ties of history of such a special character. But we do, as two modern progressive nations believing in the democratic ideals which is so important to the modern world, we do stand and work together in the fight against terrorism. And in our discussions this morning, the Prime Minister and I agreed how important it was to expand the horizons of understanding between not only the great religions of the world such as Islam and Christianity and Judaism, but also to broaden it from a dialogue into what he has described so eloquently as an alliance of civilisations. To understand that the future of the world, the future security of the world, and the future success in our joint fight against terrorism will be based very much upon a greater understanding of what not only the religions of the world, but the civilisations of the world have in common.

This morning we signed a witnessed Memoranda of Understanding in areas of holiday maker visas and agriculture. And I was very pleased to announce the first Turkish recipients under Australia's Endeavour Scholarship Programme. It is important to understand the primacy of person to person, people to people links between nations. And we must give a modern expression to our long standing personal relationship by increasing the opportunities for the young of the two countries to visit and study respectively in the other country. Trade and economic links need to be emphasised and expanded. I think we both agreed that at present levels they can only be described as modest. That too is changing, and the success that companies such as Austral Ships have recently had in selling ferries and other craft to Turkey is but one example. And others of course are to be found in the resources sector.

Mr Prime Minister I appreciate very, very much your gesture in returning the visit that I paid to your country in April of this year. It was mentioned to you this morning that one of the most famous eating places here in Canberra, and one that arguably is the repository of more political secrets than perhaps any building outside this building in Canberra, is of course the famous Ottoman Restaurant. And it brings a touch of not only Turkish cuisine, but also Turkish hospitality to so many people who visit it and take advantage of it.

Mr Prime Minister we welcome you and your wife very warmly to Australia. We thank you for the democratic leadership that you have brought to your country. We thank you for the contribution that you have made, often in very difficult circumstances of some intimidation, even persecution in reaching high political office. You are no stranger to adversity in political life in a way that few Australian politicians might understand and none have experienced in the political life of Australia.

We have much in common. We come from different cultural backgrounds, but the common fight against terrorism, our common investment in democratic values have brought us together. I welcome you and your wife and your Ministers most warmly, and I invite the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Kim Beazley to support my remarks.

[ends]

Transcript 22073