PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 24391

Address to Peace Conference, Istanbul, 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: 23/04/2015

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 24391

In November last year, Prime Minister Davutoglu addressed Griffith University in Queensland, on the eve of the G20 summit.

He explained that his great-uncle had fought the Australians at Gallipoli 100 years ago.

In some parts of the world, to enter the homeland of a former enemy, even two generations on, would be to invite hostility and suspicion; but Prime Minister Davutoglu was welcomed as a friend in Australia.

Likewise, I have not only been welcomed here as a friend but invited to address this Peace Summit, notwithstanding Australia’s role in the 1915 attack on Turkey.

As Prime Minister Davutoglu said, it is “very rare…in history” that two nations which fought so fiercely should become such friends.

Indeed, our friendship proves that when the battle is over, when the wounds have healed and when the ground has cooled, warriors can see their enemies’ virtue.

The Gallipoli campaign (or Canakkale Savasi as you call it here in Turkey) was a dreadful baptism of fire for the young Commonwealth of Australia.

Some 60,000 Australians fought here; nearly 9,000 died, over 20,000 were wounded and thousands more carried the unseen scars for the rest of their lives.

An Australian historian wrote of the trauma of the Great War: “dreams abandoned, lives without purpose, women without husbands, families without family life, one long national funeral for a generation and more after 1918”.

It would have been like that for Turkey too.

That’s why, this week, Australia salutes the magnanimity of Turkey towards us as well as the courage and self-sacrifice of our own countrymen.

To those who despair of reconciliation in the midst of conflict, I say: look to Turkey and Australia – two foes who have become friends.

In a place of honour, next to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, there is a memorial to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – a worthy and resourceful leader, who embraced his fallen enemies as sons of Turkey.

Ataturk’s famous words of consolation to the grieving mothers of Australia, that their sons were lying in the soil of a friendly country, will echo around the Anzac services held in our country this week – as they stand in stone on the sacred soil of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

One of the Australians impressed by Ataturk’s statesmanship was our 8th Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce, a Gallipoli veteran who’d been wounded at Suvla Bay.

But in 1936 he chaired an international conference in the Swiss town of Montreux which restored Turkey to full control over the Dardanelles.

The man who, in 1915, had fought to seize control of the Dardanelles for the Allies, in 1936 worked hard to return them to Turkey.

In Bruce’s closing remarks at the Conference, he declared that Turkey had provided a “magnificent example” to the world in trying to reach a solution to international problems through legal methods.

It was a practical manifestation of Ataturk’s dream of “peace at home and peace in the world”; a dream that’s shared by Australians.

Ataturk had been generous to us as a people – and grace begat grace.

For the last century, under successive governments, Australia’s determination has been to advance our interests, protect our citizens and uphold our values.

We have never believed that we can save the world single-handedly; nor have we shrunk from shouldering our responsibilities.

We seek to act towards others as we’d have them act towards us.

After all, keeping commitments, valuing human life, protecting property and extending freedom are universal aspirations, not just Australian ones.

Since 1947, Australia has provided more than 65,000 personnel to more than 50 multilateral peace and security operations.

We are not accustomed to turning back, once we’ve put our hand to the plough.

In Afghanistan we worked with Turkey in the NATO-led force.

On our side of the world, when leadership is needed, we step up, as we did in Bougainville, the Solomons and in Timor-Leste.

I acknowledge Turkey’s contribution of police to UN missions in Timor-Leste, a wonderful gesture of friendship to a new country and mark of good international citizenship.

Today, Turkey and Australia are working to defeat terrorism in all its forms.

Australia condemns the occupation of Turkey’s consulate in Mosul by Daesh terrorists.

A terrorist movement calling itself “Islamic State” insults religion and mocks the duties of a legitimate state towards its citizens.

In declaring a caliphate, this death cult has declared war on the world.

Regrettably, some Australians have joined this madness.

We’ve changed our laws to ensure that foreign fighters returning home can be arrested, prosecuted and gaoled for a very long time indeed.

And we’re working to prevent more people joining this conflict.

Our planes and soldiers are part of the international coalition to disrupt, degrade and ultimately destroy the Daesh death cult at the request of the Iraqi government.

We are doing so because the threat it poses respects no national boundaries.

Any group proclaiming “submit or die” is a threat to our lives and values – and to the lives and values of all decent people.

Australia is a free, fair and, above all, a pluralist society.

It’s our pluralism that shows that freedom and fairness is real.

Some 70,000 Australian citizens have Turkish descent.

This year is the Year of Turkey in Australia.

And it is the Year of Australia in Turkey.

Important cultural exchanges will complement our increasing economic ties.

This morning I invested Dr Haluk Oral with an award in the Order of Australia.

He has been honoured for his service to our shared history and to the commemoration of the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign.

A subject of Dr Oral’s research was Dr Charles Snodgrass Ryan, an Australian who’d served as a military surgeon at the siege of Plevna, where he repeatedly ran to the aid of wounded Turkish soldiers under fire.

He returned to Turkey in 1915 with the Australian Imperial Force.

On 24 May 1915, when a truce was called to bury the dead, Turkish officers thought that Dr Ryan’s medals might have been stolen.

In rusty Turkish, Dr Ryan responded “They were pinned upon my chest because I fought at the siege of Plevna with Gazi Osman Pasha”.

Sir Charles Ryan was a brave man; a healer and a saver of lives.

His story belongs to Australia and it belongs to Turkey too.

As we honour our soldiers and remember their sacrifice, we also honour those who lifted their hands in peace and were a bridge between our peoples.

I honour them all today, Australian and Turkish alike; I honour all who work for a just and lasting peace based on the universal decencies of mankind.

[ends]

Transcript - 24391