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Transcript - 24389

Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Davutoglu, Ankara, Turkey

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 22/04/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24389


Distinguished friends, my colleague the Honourable Prime Minister Tony Abbott, distinguished colleagues from Australia, dear members of the press. This is a moment in history and we are hosting the Honourable Tony Abbott. It’s a great pleasure for us to host him in Ankara.

We were together in the G20 Summit and we would like to thank him and his colleagues and the Australian Government for their hospitality in the G20 visit.

This is a moment in history because it is marking the 100 anniversary of the Chunuk Bair victory. In this framework we are going to be together in Istanbul peace summit tomorrow and we are going to hold a session there. We will discuss that the 100 year anniversary of our friendship is passing from our ancestors to our grandsons and granddaughters.

It was a very hardly fought war in Chunuk Bair. We fought bravely in two frontiers and then this war was translated into a friendship. In all of the narratives regarding this war, actually during the war itself when the war was stopped for a time the soldiers were sending cigarettes to each other, they were serving food to each other, they were exchanging such gifts to each other during the war. So, we are the grandsons and granddaughters of such a generation.

Right now our task is to strengthen our friendship which has its basis on this victory and 100 years after this victory we are going to hold the peace summit in Istanbul and we are going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our victory in Chunuk Bair. So, the wars can be source for friendship rather than anger and frustration.

I think this is also important personally because this is Tony’s first visit in Turkey. So, it’s also an important visit for himself as well and it is the first time that he’s visiting Turkey and I hope that he goes back to his country with good memories.

And in our meetings today, we discussed our joint history and then we discussed how this shared history can be translated into a joint economic and social effort. Our trade volume is more than $1 billion and Australian companies should be encouraged more to invest in Turkey. We are delighted that they already have this willingness to invest more in Turkey.

Now we will talk about how we can strengthen our bilateral relations and how we are going to some joint initiatives. And right now, actually this year Turkey is celebrating Australian culture year and Australia’s celebrating Turkish culture in its own country. So, this is a good opportunity to lay further bridges of friendship between two countries.

We also discussed some international problems – global problems. I have had the chance to express my opinion about the latest developments in Syria and Iraq. We have analysed the issues deeply. We also discussed the latest development in the Asia Pacific region. My colleague exchanged some information with us and we benefited a lot from his experience and Turkey is already showing a special interest to this region. We all have a specific interest shown to Pacific islands and in this regard, Australia has also an interest and relations in the mid-European countries, and in this regard we also discussed how to counter terrorism. Australia and Turkey are going to show a joint attitude towards any kind of terrorist attacks and we will have a joint statement today. We have discussed the activities of Daesh in Syria and we discussed a joint attitude towards any terrorist organisation. We shared the same opinions in this regard and in this framework we are going to continue our talks.

In this regard, I would like to say that Muslim societies should be integrated into their societies, should show a peaceful attitude and they should never take side by the terrorist organisations. And we discussed what kind of steps to be taken to make sure this is possible.

Turkey and Australia –we are multicultural societies. We have such kind of a background. Australia has a multicultural society, so does Turkey. So we attached great importance to peace, to mutual respect and we encourage further relations between different religions. And we discussed that in many international organisations, Turkey and Australia support each other. In MIKTA I was the leading found of MIKTA when I was the foreign minister. Mexico, Indonesia, Korea and Australia convened under that organisation and again, we exchange information and experience with our Australian colleagues to discuss the global economy. In the latest developments in the global economy, especially those that are happening in the developing economies were discussed by us. We discussed that growth should further encourage and we’ve said that G20 is an appropriate summit to discuss such issues.

So, we discussed many issues in our meetings. We had the chance to have these meetings and discuss those issues deeply. I would like to welcome him once again. He is the first guest that I am hosting in Cankaya. So, this is a visit that we experienced things for the first time, but we think that Mr Abbott should pay further visits to Turkey and we would like to see him more often coming to Turkey and we hope that this is translated into a strategic friendship.

Thank you. 


Well, Ahmet, thank you so much. It’s a real honour to be here. I am thrilled to be the first official guest in this splendid palace, I really am. I want to say thank you to Prime Minister Davutoglu, to the government and the people of Turkey, for the warmth of the hospitality today. But I should say to you, Ahmet: Thank you for everything that the people of Turkey have done for us over the last century.

Obviously, we meet on the eve of the centenary of the great battles that we fought against each other back in 1915. What marked those battles then and since was a great sense of mutual respect between our peoples. It was good to go to the Ataturk museum today and to note that in the murals there were depictions of Turks and Australians helping each other, as well as fighting each other, and for that to be depicted in your national monument in this way is a really profound illustration of the respect which each of us earned back then and which has been maintained from that day to this.

So, I really do want to thank you on behalf of the people of Australia for what you’ve done.

Yes, our discussions today ranged very widely over a number of important subjects. It’s good that there is now such close cooperation between us on security measures, particularly on counter-terrorism. It’s good that there will be annual counter-terrorist talks between our two countries. It’s good that we’re now exchanging information at a very deep level between our various agencies because the threat posed by violent extremism, particularly by the Daesh death cult, is real and it is global.

Obviously, it’s all a lot closer to Turkey than it is to Australia and yet this threat is reaching out to us in Australia – just as it exists on your own borders. So, it’s good that we’re working as closely as we possibly can to ensure that the threat is disrupted, degraded and ultimately destroyed in Syria and in Iraq, and it’s good that we’re doing what we can to try to ensure that the brainwashing and the outreach which is taking place can be minimised and ultimately eliminated.

We spoke of economic things and I should acknowledge the economic miracle that has taken place here in Turkey over the last decade or so. As a visitor to this country, as a first visitor to this country, the prosperity and the development is truly remarkable and it’s a great credit to you, Ahmet, and to your government and to the Turkish people that so much has been achieved in a relatively short space of time. I know that many other countries right around the world would be envious of the growth and the prosperity and the peace which you’ve enjoyed here over the last few decades.

Obviously, we do want to further build on what is a strong but still relatively undeveloped economic relationship. I know that I’ll have further meetings in Istanbul tomorrow and I’ll be accompanied in those meetings by some very senior Australia business people and we should not be strangers to each other in business.

Let me conclude these remarks where I began.

This is a relationship that had the worst possible beginning, but from that grim and gruesome beginning, a deep and genuine friendship has grown. Much will be said in Anzac ceremonies right around the world over the next few days, but hovering over all of it is the spirit of Ataturk and his marvellous words where he said to the grieving mothers of Australia, fear not, your sons are at peace. Your sons and our sons rest together in a peaceful land. That was the wise and magnanimous message of a truly great inspirational leader whose legacy lives on in modern Turkey.


My question is to the Australian Prime Minister. I have two questions. First of all, you have support to air operations in Iraq – do you plan to enlarge such air operations? Secondly, regarding the incidents in Melbourne, you said that Daesh was behind it. Do you think that it could constitute a prejudice in any of the further litigations? 


Well, thanks very much for the question. Our air strikes have been confined to Iraq, although we don’t just have our Super Hornet Strike Fighters in the theatre, we also have a refueler and an Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft, and the refueler and the AWAC are supporting air strikes across the theatre, including in Syria. So, while we are not ourselves striking into Syria, our aircraft are supporting those that are striking into Syria.

We have no plans to extend our air strikes into Syria at this time, although I probably should say that there is little moral difference between Daesh in Syria and Daesh in Iraq, but I do want to stress that while the death cult is the death cult wherever it’s operating, we do not intend at this stage to extend our air strikes in to Syria.

It is very important nevertheless that Australia and our broad-based coalition continue to do everything we reasonably can to disrupt and ultimately destroy this death cult because, as I said, the contagion is not confined to the countries where it is currently holding sway: this conflict is reaching out to us in Australia, it’s reaching out to many countries right around the world. That’s why it’s important that the coalition continue to act very vigorously against it.

On the other issue, look, the cases of the people who were arrested in Melbourne the other day are now before our courts and they’ll be handled as they quite properly should be by our legal system and I’m confident that justice will be done. But I also should stress that obviously it is absolutely critical that our police and security agencies do everything they humanly can to keep our people safe and the fact that this particular plot was interrupted and stopped is a sign of just how effective and professional our security agencies are and obviously we very much value and welcome the support that we’re getting from a number of like-minded countries, but particularly from Turkey.


My question is to both of you if you don’t mind, but firstly to Prime Minister Abbott. You’ve made some strong statements recently about Turkey’s role in fighting or tackling the issue of foreign fighters, in particular Australians using Turkey as a transit country. Can you tell me what you have asked of Turkey today? What more have you asked of them in terms of their cooperation?

And to Prime Minister Davutoglu – what more is Turkey prepared to do and how would you respond to criticism that perhaps Turkey hasn’t don’t enough in the past?


Well, Simon, thanks for the question. Cooperation is a two-way street, and what none of us can reasonably ask of Turkey is for Turkey to act in isolation; in ignorance. I think a number of countries have asked Turkey to do things without providing to Turkey the information that Turkey needs in order to do what it’s been asked to do. Now, I’m pleased to say that there is close and increasing cooperation between our security agencies and Turkish security agencies. I’d very much cite the annual security talks, counter-terrorism talks that we’ll henceforth be having, and the fact that we’ve now got a liaison officer here operating with police in Turkey. I don’t pretend for a second that the 900 kilometre border between Turkey and Syria is easy to police and I don’t pretend for a second that the 30 or 40 million tourists who come to Turkey every year should be subject to draconian regimes. What I think needs to happen is that we need to have the closest possible cooperation and that’s exactly what we’ve got and I think as a result of that very close cooperation, Australians who wish to go to Syria and Iraq via Turkey will find it increasingly difficult.


Regarding the foreign fighters, Turkey is one of the countries which shows the most determined attitude against any kind of terrorism. It’s not only Daesh but it’s also about any kind of terrorist organisation. Turkey will always show a determined attitude in order for counter-terrorism. Those who are there to criticise Turkey should know that Turkey and Syria are neighbouring countries and two million – about two million – refugees have come from Syria to Turkey. If you would like to ensure bilateral control on your borders you should close down the border gates and if this happens all these innocent people from Syria coming from Syria would suffer and the world would question you about his issue. Turkey is hosting two million refugees from Syria and they are still deciding Turkey for this and they are not doing anything to protect these innocent Syrians from those threats. So, Turkish people have actually embraced this Syrian innocent people. In this regard, we cannot stop Syrians crossing our borders and coming to Turkey because these are innocent people fleeing away from the chemical weapons used by Daesh. So, we have no option to close down our borders.

Secondly, Turkey is a democratic state where the rule of law dominates. So, we cannot say that as a person coming from Syria, we cannot handle such a person as a potential criminal. So, we have 35 million tourists coming to Turkey every year and we cannot close down our border gates, so what needs to be done is as follows – if there’s any kind of person, where there is information defining this person as a potential criminal, we will stop this person from crossing our borders or the other countries should do this and they should exchange information – share information – with us. They are saying that this person may cross your border and you should stop this person from crossing our borders because this person may be a potential criminal and we are doing that actually. Daesh is a threat for Turkey as well, actually, and we don’t want to see any foreign fighters in our territories or in Syrian territories. We are ready to cooperate with any country, including Australia in any way we can. But we should dry up the source of this. We should take all the measures of course but in addition we should show an active attitude against this bloody regime in Syria which leads to the existence of Daesh because it is easy to criticise Turkey on not doing anything to improve the situation. Everybody should do everything that they can and we should tackle counter-terrorism jointly.


Distinguished Prime Minister, my question is to you. Everybody is looking forward to April 24. You know the declaration form the top, you know the declaration from Germany and President Obama said that he’s not going to use the word genocide. What would you like to say about this issue? This is the first question.

Secondly, if other European countries define the incidents of 1915 as genocide, what will be the attitude of Turkey?


Actually this press meeting is important because it gives a message to Armenia or other countries which would like to show a strict attitude towards these incidents. You see these flags? These are the flags of two countries who fought against each other 100 years ago. Australia tried to erect the flag into our territories and we wanted to do the same 100 year ago. But you see these flags are next to one another right now. Now, Armenians and the whole world should know that if the Turkish flags and Armenian flags should be put to one another, we should take lessons from the history; from the past. Everybody should do everything in its hand to make it possible. In the last decade or in the last 15 years, in 2005 actually, the Turkish Parliament adopted a decision which was historical, importantly for Armenians. We suggested to set up a joint historic commission and we provided the suggestion to Armenians.

We knew that 2015 would be the 100th anniversary of the incidents but in 2014 when our president was the prime minister, he sent a condolence message to Armenians. I also sent such a message to Armenians. Three important issues are there. We should share our pains, we know, we understand what you suffer from. Secondly, we can set up a joint future. Thirdly, for the parties who would like to instil hostility to us, we should strengthen our friendship against such parties who would like to instil hostile feelings to us. And when it comes to the declaration of the Pope, it’s an unfortunate message and what it authorities said was that the Pope was referring to a previous message. And I had a one hour meeting with with Mr Schulz regarding the declaration of the European Parliament. He told me that in principle, these historical events should be assessed by the historians and he said that he cannot intervene in the decision of the European Parliament. I had a phone conversation with Ms Merkel and I told her that the German Parliament should not take any decision which could offend Turkey and we said that there is no white and black when it comes to such historic events, historic incidents.

In the First World War Turkey and Germany were allies. So, in German archives, in Turkish archives the documents are available and we should and can assess and check those documents. We have no hesitation regarding that issue. Actually, we can talk to anyone when it comes to face-to-face greetings we can have meetings but if someone looks down on us, if someone tries to offend us, we never accept such issues. We never accept any attitude which looks down on us.

President Obama made a declaration as well and we had many previous meetings with him with the participation of our previous Prime Minister and our previous President. Our Foreign Minister was in the United States, as you know. He also exchanged information with the US authorities. With all his experience in his eight years of office as the President I am sure that President Obama will not make any declaration which may offend Turkey because Turkey and the United States of America are strategic partners. We have special relations with the United States.

I don’t want to say that the US should not adopt the right attitude just because we are strategic partners. Of course, we can translate the conflicts, the war, into friendship. That is the right attitude and in this regard, Turkey is open and willing to have any kind of meetings, any talks in this regard but we will never yield to any political pressures and we want the third parties to take their steps carefully.


Mr Abbott, you came here saying you wanted a better approach to stop Australians crossing into Syria where they joined radical groups. Can you tell us what will be done better on that front? Can Turkey turn people back? Can Turkey detain people? Can Turkey track people?

Prime Minister Davutoglu, On the same line really do you get the information that you need from Australia? Has that been happening consistently? Can you detain Australians here? Can you turn them back at the airport? Can you track them?


Well, Matt, there is the joint statement which you have got before you and I would certainly refer you to that statement which I think is a very good statement and quite a detailed statement about exactly what is going to be happening in the future.

Obviously, what Turkey chooses to do within its territory is a matter for Turkey but what is absolutely crystal clear is that Turkey regards Daesh as every bit as much of a problem as we do, because Daesh is a threat to everyone. Daesh is no respecter of sovereignties. Daesh is no respecter of borders. Daesh is no respecter of persons and if you look at what Daesh has done in Syria and Iraq – the crucifixions, the beheadings, the mass executions, the sexual slavery – no one is safe from this. No one is safe from this except those who join it and the message that Daesh is giving to the wider world is submit or die: an absolutely barbaric message which should have no place whatsoever in the modern world; no place whatsoever in the modern world.

So, at every level, including through specific institutionalised channels our cooperation is deepening. I am confident that as a result of the cooperation, as a result of the additional warmth that I think this visit has generated, that Australians who are wishing to transfer through Turkey to Syria and Iraq will find it much, much more difficult. Again, my message to any Australian who is thinking of such a thing is: don’t do it. Don’t go. If you go you will come to no good. You will do no good and you will come to no good.

That is the very clear message that I give to any Australian who is thinking of joining any terrorist group in the Middle East.


It was a very specific reply. First, it doesn’t matter which terrorist organisation that is in question in any kind of measure against any kind of terrorist organisation, Turkey will support such measures. Turkey is a democratic state where the rule of law dominates. Australia is one of the first friendly countries that Turkey has. If Australia asks something from us like detaining these people, deporting these people, Turkey is ready to take such steps.

Thirdly, for those who come from Australia, if they do not have intention to join any terrorist organisation, they are quite welcome to come to Turkey. So we will receive such people coming to our Anzac ceremonies and we will of course apply measures against terrorism without disturbing such friendly tourists coming to Turkey.

So, of course we need a healthy and consistent and efficient exchange of information. Actually we have such kind of efficient and effective exchange of information between these two countries and the two countries will not hesitate to take necessary steps. Of course, we cannot accept any speculation. Turkey never supports ant terrorist organisation, never tolerates any terrorist organisation, never opens its borders to any terrorist organisation. We will deepen the information exchange and in the joint statement you will see that the two countries will act together when it comes to counter-terrorism.

Thank you.


Transcript - 24389