Final preparations and rehearsals for the Gallipoli dawn service will be held amid huge crowds as thousands of Turks visit the peninsula for Children’s Day – a day to honour the Turkish soldiers who died fighting the Anzacs.
Turkey celebrates Children’s Day on April 23, and between 50,000 and 100,000 Turkish tourists will flock to Turkish war memorials across the peninsula that is already crowded with Australian and New Zealand tourists before Anzac Day.
Children’s Day marks the foundation of the first parliament formed in the new Turkish republic after World War I and the Turkish victory over the Allied invasion forces at Gallipoli is a celebrated event in the formation of the new nation.
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott met with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday and the two leaders set out the terms of an extradition deal aimed at returning any Australian jihadist fighters caught in Turkey.
“As a result of that very close co-operation, Australians who wish to go to Syria and Iraq via Turkey will find it increasingly difficult,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Davutoglu said his government was willing to do more to stop potential terrorists. ”If Australia asks something from us like detaining these people, deporting these people, Turkey is ready to take such steps,” he said.
Security remains a key focus of the Anzac Day centenary commemorations despite ongoing reassurances from organisers that the Gallipoli ceremonies will be safe amid an enormous security operation.
Australian and New Zealand military and performers rehearsed the dawn service ceremony at the North Beach Australian Commemorative Site on Thursday morning.
Didgeridoo player and composer William Barton gave a preview of the piece he will play to open the ceremony, “Spirit of Place”.
Mr Barton’s didgeridoo resonated across the water and the rugged cliffs above the stage and the accomplished artist, who has played at Carnegie Hall and with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, said it would be deeply moving for the 10,500 people at the dawn service.
“I want the people at the back to feel the resonance in their chests,” he said.
Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Michael Ronaldson, who is also in Gallipoli and will tour the battlefield graves on Thursday, has described the upcoming centenary ceremony as an important lesson for young Australians.
“I want the next generation of Australians and the generation after that to understand that the word Anzac is synonymous with service and sacrifice,” he said.
“If they understand, they will remember, and if they remember, they will do the things this nation will ask of them.”