Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 07:39 AM MSD
|Turkish ambassador to Australia, Tansu Okandan, said last night the warning was offensive to Turks and not in keeping with the "traditional friendship" between the two countries. |
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warning advises Australians of terrorist threats to Western interests in the wake of the war on Iraq and says they should exercise "a high degree of caution".
Mr Okandan said Turks would be offended because the advice did not take heed of Turkish efforts to improve security.
"The people of Turkey, I believe, could feel offended by such a travel advice," he told The Australian newspaper.
"I definitely believe it is exaggerated and doesn't correspond to reality."
The Turkish newspaper Zaman said on Tuesday that al Qaeda terrorists were plotting to assassinate Australian officials.
The paper warned 35 specially trained terrorists had entered Turkey from northern Iraq.
Mr Okandan said he was seeking information from Turkey's internal affairs department about Turkish media reports that its security division had issued alerts about the al Qaeda terrorists.
"Turkey is totally safe as far as terrorist incidents are concerned," he told the Daily Telegraph.
He said DFAT should acknowledge in its travel advice that Turkey was co-operating to tighten Anzac Day security.
The Australian government has stopped short of urging Australians to stay away from the Gallipoli ceremonies and the visit there by Treasurer Peter Costello is going ahead.
"We are satisfied that the Turks have made enormous efforts to shore up security," Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said.
There will be tighter security than usual at the events.
Last year about 15,000 Australians and New Zealanders turned up for memorial services, but only half that number is expected this year.
The New Zealand Government has not upgraded its travel advice, which warns those going to Gallipoli to be "extra vigilant" as a result of a heightened risk to Westerners, but said it was in constant contact with security authorities in Turkey.