JOURNALIST Returning to international news and the situation in Paris and Turkey, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now from Canberra. Julie Bishop, this is an extraordinary time to be Foreign Minister. You've got a lot on your plate. I see the DFAT travel warnings have been updated appropriately?
JULIE BISHOP It has been a rather chaotic time. The attacks in Nice were horrific. There are still two Australians hospitalised in Nice and I'm in contact with the family of one of the people injured in this terrible incident. The French prosecutor is still investigating, there are links emerging between this truck driver and others. It appears to have been a coordinated attack but we await the findings of the French prosecutor. In the meantime, we urge Australians to exercise a high degree of caution if they are travelling in France, to take out travel insurance, to make sure that they have access to our Smartraveller advice and to listen to the advice of the local authorities.
And now in Turkey, this attempted coup, which has failed but still seeing a lot of unrest and chaos, and the situation is very fluid in Turkey. Again, we urge Australians to exercise a high degree of caution but if they are seeking to travel to either Istanbul or Ankara, we ask them to reconsider their need to travel.
JOURNALIST We saw, Julie Bishop, ISIS claiming responsibility, Islamic State claiming responsibility over the weekend for that terror attack in Nice. How much credence do you put in that?
JULIE BISHOP This hasn't been independently verified. It took a while for ISIS to claim responsibility and there were no evident connections between the terrorist organisation and the particular truck driver. However, it's early days and as the investigation continues, more events unfold and connections are being made. We will await the findings of the prosecutor, but it does remind us that no city, no country is immune from terrorist attacks. They can come in many different forms. The Australian Government is focused on ensuring that we can do everything in our power to keep Australians safe at home and abroad, and that our security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the resources and the legislative backing that they need.
JOURNALIST Julie Bishop, I want to move to Turkey. Thousands of people being rounded up as funerals are held for those people killed during that attempted coup. What do you make of the Government saying that the death penalty is being reconsidered now after several decades in isolation?
JULIE BISHOP I spoke to Foreign Minister Cavusoglu last night and he assured me that the Government was in control of the situation in Turkey. He pointed out that the secular, political, military and civilian opposition were against the coup – they might be opposed to President Erdogan but they were opposed to the coup – and he assured me that it was the fault of an isolated Islamist division within the military, the Gulenist movement. The leader of that movement is in self-imposed exile in the US. But there were some terrible scenes. The Parliament was under attack, there was a lot of military activity and, as we've seen, still a lot of unrest in Turkey. The Government is characterising this Gulenist movement as a terrorist organisation and is speaking about it in the context of its counter-terrorism activities more generally, and of course Turkey's a very important partner of ours and other coalition members in the fight against ISIL.
JOURNALIST Do you think Fethullah Gulen should be repatriated from Pennsylvania back to Turkey?
JULIE BISHOP As the United States made clear through US Secretary of State John Kerry, they would need to see the evidence. Turkey would need to present a case to the US authorities and then they would deal with it in the usual way when extradition orders are sought.
JOURNALIST Alright Julie Bishop, we'll leave it there for now but thank you very much for joining us on the program.
JULIE BISHOP My pleasure.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555