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Turkish ambassador defends Gallipoli manageme -

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Turkish ambassador defends Gallipoli management

The World Today - Monday, 27 October , 2008 12:23:00

Reporter: Conor Duffy

ELEANOR HALL: The Turkish ambassador to Australia has defended his country's management of the
Gallipoli Peninsula, over allegations that war graves are again being disturbed by road works.

Three years ago disturbances at the site led to a major uproar and the Turkish and Australian
governments made a deal to work together to protect the historic battleground.

The ambassador says he's seeking more information from Ankara but he says the road works are being
carried out at the request of the Australian Government.

Conor Duffy has our report.

CONOR DUFFY: This morning on AM, a Turkish taxi driver Anil Dinch spoke of how human remains have
been unearthed by road works that have started in the last week.

ANIL DINCH: Everywhere bone, skull, fingers and everything, maybe Turkish, maybe Australian man.
Who know this, you know. This is very sad.

CONOR DUFFY: The area was identified as the Second Ridge Road and is believed to have been a no
man's land between Australian and Turkish troops fighting at Gallipoli

The ABC's Middle East correspondent Ben Knight gave an eye witness account of the damage.

BEN KNIGHT: Here on the side of the road, you can see where the excavator has come through and just
dug a channel alongside either side of the road and there is a vertical face of dirt in front of me
and jutting out of it are bones. What looks to be a hip socket here and next to it what looks to be
a leg bone that is white where is has been sheared in half by this earth moving equipment.

CONOR DUFFY: The Turkish ambassador to Australia Murat Ersavci says he's seeking more information
from his government.

MURAT ERSAVCI: I have asked Ankara whether such reports are really true or if true to what extent
and what's happening.

CONOR DUFFY: The ambassador is upset by the reports and sees them as a slight on Turkish
authorities.

MURAT ERSAVCI: I am very dismayed; I feel this is an onslaught against the Turkish authorities. And
I really feel these are not very helpful reportings. They will be offensive to a good many people
in Turkey.

CONOR DUFFY: And ambassador Ersavci believes the road works may have been undertaken at the request
of the Australian Government.

MURAT ERSAVCI: To be honest you see many bones in various, underneath the bushes and various
fields, this happens and the road works are done there on the request of our countries, friendly
countries like Australia and New Zealand.

CONOR DUFFY: Three years ago, reports of bones being disturbed at Gallipoli caused a major
international row.

At the time, Labor was in opposition, and shadow minister Anthony Albanese blamed the Government
and Prime Minister John Howard.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what we are now seeing is catch-up from the Government. First the
Government said bones weren't uncovered. They now say it is inevitable and they now come up with a
plan for a crypt in which those bones could be kept. Labor wants to assess any such proposal and
ensure that the site and any remains found gain the maximum level of respect available.

CONOR DUFFY: Today the new Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin was unavailable for comment. The
Turkish ambassador though hopes that this time, the controversy will be resolved much more quickly.

MURAT ERSAVCI: I may be emotional on the subject perhaps maybe you got it from my voice but I
really feel these things don't help. I mean let's look ahead. Let's look at the friendship and
co-operation. Let's not get stuck down with, you know, broken bones which I am telling you, reminds
me of old wounds of my grandfather and great-uncle who was killed in the battle ground. My wife's
great-grandfather who was killed in the battleground. So let the dead rest in peace. Please, let's
look at, let's look at future.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the Turkish ambassador Murat Ersavci ending that report from Conor Duffy.