Alcohol ban likely for Gallipoli

The Shell Green Cemetery in Gallipoli. Photo / Thinkstock
The Shell Green Cemetery in Gallipoli. Photo / Thinkstock

An alcohol ban at Gallipoli where New Zealanders and Australians gather every year to honour those killed in World War I is a step closer.

A Turkish parliamentary committee has voted in favour of a bill introduced by the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) that would change the status of the peninsula from a national park to a historic area, where consuming alcoholic drinks is strictly banned, AFP reported.

The bill still needs to be passed by parliament, but the AKP holds a comfortable majority there.

Some 4400 New Zealand and Australian pilgrims attended the dawn service at Gallipoli on April 25 a year out from the 100th anniversary when 10,500 people will be crammed into the site.

Australia's Veterans Affairs Minister Danna Vale said references to excessive drinking and misbehaviour were a mischaracterisation of a highly successful event.

"Despite a crowd of some 15,000 people, all reports indicate they were largely well-behaved and claims of drunken behaviour have been exaggerated," she said.

The proposed bill imposes a fine of 5000 Turkish liras ($NZ2810) on those who drink alcohol outside licensed venues.

Ali Saribas, from the opposition Republican People's Party, accused the government of not respecting the culture of visitors.

"Drinking wine is part of their culture, it's their heritage. But the government has no respect for it," he said.

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