TO mark the centenary of Anzac Day, 2015 has been named the Year of Turkey in Australia by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The Australian leader met with her Turkish counterpart in the country’s capital, Ankara, on Thursday, where they agreed to the reciprocal tribute.
Having attended Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli on Wednesday, Ms Gillard thanked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Turkey’s ongoing support of the event which attracts thousands of Australians each year.
“The two leaders noted the significance of upcoming joint commemorations for the centenary of the Gallipoli battles in 2015 and agreed to work closely together to ensure the success of this historic occasion,” a spokeswoman for Ms Gillard said in a statement.
“They also agreed that 2015 would be proclaimed the Year of Turkey in Australia and the Year of Australia in Turkey, to be marked by a series of cultural and other events.”
Ms Gillard, who on Wednesday made addresses both at the Anzac Cove dawn service and a subsequent commemorative event at Lone Pine, said she was honoured to have been involved in the event which she considers Australia’s most emotional day.
On 25 April, 1915, soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force landed at Anzac Cove, marking the start of a bloody campaign.
Some 130,000 people were killed in the battle that followed, including more than 8700 Australians and in excess of 80,000 Turks.
For the 100-year commemoration, organisers are expecting record crowds for Anzac Day at Gallipoli, and said they are looking at ways to manage the event which could include a ballot for attendance.
Some tour companies are taking refundable deposits and even urging travellers to consider alternative destinations for the centenary, such as Villers-Bretonneux in France.
The influx of visitors and interest in the Gallipoli site for the 2015 centenary has been unprecedented and despite being three years away, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has warned that tour operators should not be making commitments to their passengers regarding attendance at the centenary commemorations until after the Australian government has made announcement on the arrangements.
It is believed some people have already paid in excess of $30,000 to experience the Anzac commemorations in 2015.
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