Minister Dermot Ahern meets Turkish Foreign Minister to discuss security of Irish tourists
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D, today met with his Turkish counterpart, Mr. Abdullah Gul, in Ankara, to discuss a range of significant issues including the security of Irish tourists in Turkey following Saturday's bomb in Kusadasai which tragically resulted in the death of Tara Whelan and four other innocent people.
The Minister sought assurances from Foreign Minister Gul that all possible security measures would be taken to ensure the safety of Irish and other tourists in the country. Minister Gul briefed Minister Ahern on the additional and urgent measures that the Turkish government were putting in place to step up security in all tourist resorts in Turkey. These include:
• Additional check points at airports, increased police patrols, cancellation of police leave in the resorts, warning against suspicious packages, preparation of hospital and fire services for emergency situations, security checks on tour operators, increased air transport security, liaison with local tourism enterprises and chambers of commerce, coordinated action against organised groups, including criminal groups.
• Local Governors were also adopting additional measures. The intelligence services were taking further steps to increase their operations.
The Minister welcomed these additional security measures and strongly encouraged the Turkish authorities in their efforts. The Minister pledged his support both as Foreign Minister and the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy in the international effort to combat such callous acts of terrorism aimed at innocent civilians.
The Minister reiterated his most sincere sympathy for the family of Tara Whelan and the families of the British and Turkish victims of the tragic event on Saturday last.
The Minister, while appreciating that this is at the discretion of travel agencies, has urged them, in the circumstances, to agree that all those who do not wish to go ahead with their travel plans to Turkey at this time should be refunded in full.
Note to Editors
Following the tragic death of Tara Whelan last Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs, on the instructions of the Minister, has reviewed its travel advice for Irish citizens travelling to Turkey. Following this review, the Department, in common with other western countries, is not advising against all travel to Turkey. However, it notes that the threat from terrorism in Turkey remains high and that the frequency of attacks by terrorist groups has increased in the last year. Such attacks are, by their nature, random and indiscriminate and cannot be predicted in advance. The Department advises Irish citizens to take this into account in considering travel to Turkey.
Those who travel there are reminded of the need to exercise the utmost vigilance and caution, particularly in public places that are frequented by foreigners.
19 July 2005