NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has hit back at a potential Turkish ban on MPs attending the Gallipoli centenary

Source: ABCNews

The New South Wales Government has reacted harshly to reports the Turkish speaker of parliament has threatened to ban MPs from attending the centenary commemorations of the Gallipoli landing.

Tension between the NSW Parliament and Turkish authorities first erupted in May, when MPs passed a motion recognising the Armenian genocide.

Genocide scholars say that from 1915 to 1923 more than 1 million Armenians lost their lives at the hands of the Ottoman empire.

Turkey has long disputed it was genocide.

Places limited for Gallipoli landings centenary.

The Turkish speaker of parliament, Cemil Cicek, has reportedly called on the State Government to withdraw its resolution.

He says NSW MPs could be banned from attending the 2015 Anzac centenary at Gallipoli if action is not taken.

In a statement, Premier Barry O’Farrell said anyone associated with the Turkish government should not use the centenary for political purposes and labelled the comments “deplorable”.

It comes after the ABC revealed that one of the world’s most vocal Armenian genocide deniers is set to make an address at Parliament House in Canberra next week.

The address, titled “What happened during 1915-1923”, will be given by Professor Justin McCarthy, an American history professor whom many Armenians view with the same disdain as Jews view Holocaust denier David Irving.

Ballot opens for Gallipoli centenary tickets

The escalation of tensions between NSW and Turkey comes as the ballot for Australians hoping to attend the 2015 Anzac centenary at Gallipoli opens.

A total of 6,000 tickets will be available to the general public, and another 2,000 will be reserved for direct descendents of World War One veterans, veterans of other wars and school children.

The Federal Government will extend personal invitations to the 160 surviving widows of World War I veterans.

Ballot key dates

The ballot will close at the end of January and the Government expects to announce the results in March.

Veterans Affairs Minister Senator Michael Ronaldson says Prime Minister Tony Abbott will attend the event and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will also be invited.

But he says the remaining official delegation will be small to ensure as many members of the public can attend.

He says that although attending Anzac Day commemorations in 2015 would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, if unsuccessful in the ballot, visitors could also consider visiting Gallipoli at another time during the centenary year.

“The Gallipoli campaign lasted eight months from April to December 1915,” he said.

“I encourage those who may not be successful in the ballot to consider visiting Gallipoli at another time in 2015.”

The ballot had initially been delayed over fairness concerns.

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