Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Marie Ficarra has condemned a statement released by the Turkish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which suggests the country will block Australian politicians from visiting Gallipoli for the centenary of ANZAC Day in 2015, the Armenian National Committee of Australia reports.
Turkey’s statement was made after both Houses of the NSW Parliament adopted unanimous motions, recognising the Greek and Assyrian genocides as well as reaffirming the Armenian Genocide.
The statement says: “These persons who try to damage the spirit of Çanakkale/Gallipoli will also not have their place in the Çanakkale ceremonies where we commemorate together our sons lying side by side in our soil.”
In a letter address to the Consul-General of Turkey, Ficarra states: “To politicise Gallipoli is also an unacceptable and irrational act and comments such as ‘not have their place in the Çanakkale ceremonies where we commemorate together our sons lying side by side in our soil’ only diminishes Turkey’s credibility and reputation. I do not have respect for such excessive comments and actions.”
Ficarra, who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of NSW, also countered Turkey’s accusations that the motion was “hate speech” by rejecting what she called an “incorrect assertion”.
She went on to say: “I reiterate the Hon. Fred Nile’s statements that his Motion, and I know the Premier’s similarly, was not to attack or denigrate the modern State of Turkey but place on record the undeniable true history and properly acknowledge those who have suffered such disgraceful atrocities.”
Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Australia, Vache Kahramanian said: “We thank the Honourable Marie Ficarra for taking a firm stance on this issue. It is unacceptable that Turkey politicises the sacred memory of our ANZAC’s by making such threats against Australian citizens, and the politicians we elect.”
“The historic facts of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian genocides are undeniable and indisputable, and the motion passed by the New South Wales Parliament is a further testament to that.”
The full text of Ficarra’s letter can be read below:
Mr. Gulseren Celik
Consul General of the Republic of Turkey Sydney
66 Ocean Street
Woollahra NSW 2025
Dear Consul General
I refer to your correspondence forwarded on your behalf to all Members of the NSW Parliament by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Hon Shelley Hancock concerning the unanimous Resolution of the NSW Legislative Council in recognition of the Genocides of the indigenous Assyrian and Hellenic peoples of Anatolia, incorporating a reaffirmation of the 1997 recognition of the Genocide of the indigenous Armenian people.
You may also be aware that since the Resolution of the Legislative Council, the Premier of New South Wales, The Hon Barry O’Farrell MP, has moved a similar Motion which was passed unanimously by the Legislative Assembly.
As democratically elected representative of the people of New South Wales, we are duty bound to respond to issues of concern to our constituents. Indeed, the issues raised in the unanimous Resolutions of both Houses are an effort to respond to those concerns and acknowledge the grieving.
I have read Turkey’s No: 133, 7 May 2013, Press Release regarding the Motion Passed by the Legislative Council of the Parliament of the State of New South Wales in Australia. I can assure you that the statement “a session at the State Parliament attended by a small number of parliamentarians” is incorrect and the Minutes of proceedings indicate this. I must also reject and note that I find it offensive the comments “It is evident that history will not be rewritten by such motions passed with petty political calculations under the influence of ethnic lobbies know for their excesses and prejudices”.
“To politicise Gallipoli is also an unacceptable and irrational act and comments such as “not have their place in the Çanakkale ceremonies where we commemorate together our sons lying side by side in our soil” only diminishes Turkey’s credibility and reputation. I do not have respect for such excessive comments and actions.
I commend both the Hon the Rev Fred Nile MLC and the Premier, The Hon Barry O’Farrell MP on their initiative and care for many people in New South Wales who value such acknowledgment.
I also reject the incorrect assertion that the Resolution of the Parliament are “hate speeches”. I reiterate the Hon Fred Nile’s statements that his Motion, and I know the Premier’s similarly was not to attack or denigrate the modern State of Turkey but place on record the undeniable true history and properly acknowledge those who have suffered such disgraceful atrocities.