Over the past few days I have had no end of calls from worried friends wanting to know how safe it is in Turkey at the moment. Yes there is anger and frustration in the streets of many cities. Thousands of Kurdish people are protesting across the country including in its capital Ankara and Istanbul. They are furious that Turkey seems to be standing by as Islamic State advances on the Syrian town of Kobane. They say that Turkey’s failure to help the Kurdish fighters there will no doubt lead to the city falling to IS.
I have learned from writing this blog to keep my opinions to myself as I do not have sufficient knowledge or education on the complicated relationship between Turkey and the Kurdish people. I will only say that Turkey is in an extremely difficult situation. They are, of course, a powerhouse in the region and they will vigorously protect their land and their citizens (including their Kurdish citizens). Should Turkey cross the border into Syria they are entering foreign soil and crossing that border would be considered a hostile act by Syria. Should a Syrian or Kurdish citizen be injured or killed at the hands of a Turkish soldier then I suspect all hell will break loose. Turkey also has the underlining concern of keeping peace within its Kurdish communities which can prove a difficult task particularly when Erdogan is comparing the PKK to IS.
The Australian Government has today emailed its citizens living or visiting Turkey and have advised against all travel to the towns of Akcakale and Ceylanpinar. They have also advised against all but essential travel to areas within 50km of Turkey’s border with Syria. You should remember that each countries give their citizens their own advice with the UK Foreign Office advising against all but essential travels within 10km of Turkey’s border with Syria.
Friends, where we are in Mersin it is perfectly safe right now. We are approximately 4-5 hours drive from the Syrian border. There have been no protests however there is a heavy polis presence in the city. If I feel in any way that the situation has changed or that Daughter and I are no longer safe here we will make arrangements to leave the city and, if necessary, the country immediately.
Remember if you intend on travelling to Turkey in the coming days I suggest that you check with your own Foreign Office. If you are travelling to Marmaris or along the western coast of Turkey you are 12 hours – I repeat – 12 hours from the Syrian border. Of course your personal safety and the safety of your family is paramount but do not let the remote possibility of terrorism by Islamic State (or by any other terrorist organisation) control your lives.
If you are interested in reading more about what is going on – here are a few links that I found interesting.
4 Questions / The Prize and Peril of Kirkuk / Smart Traveller / UK Advice / Ankara on Alert
Please share this page to your family members who are concerned about safety while travelling or living in this beautiful country.
Finally I will add that Turkey is one of the most amazing countries in the world with its magnificent beaches, glorious scenery and its surprising history. The Turkish Government will do everything in its power to control the situation along its borders and to protect its citizens and its visitors – that means you!
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