The UK’s Foreign Office has issued an urgent warning to anyone travelling to Turkey.
Holidaymakers have been warned to expect disruption as Turkey faces unscheduled presidential and parliamentary elections later this month.
The government has updated its advice to travellers and tourists, telling them to ‘avoid large crowds’ as political turmoil and unrest is expected in the country, the Mirror reports.
In a statement issued on Friday June 1, a Government spokesperson said:
Presidential and parliamentary elections will take place on June 24 2018.
This may result in rallies and demonstrations around the country; you should avoid large gatherings and follow the advice of local authorities.
The snap election was called in April by current president Recep Tayyip Erdogen after rising opposition to his rule and concerns for Turkey’s economy.
The UK Government has already warned against all travel to within 10km of the Syrian border, and to the city of Diyarbakir. Additional security measures may also be applied to any flights in and out of Turkey.
The announcement added:
Most terrorist attacks have taken place in the south and east of the country and in Ankara and Istanbul. Attacks are most likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations. Nevertheless, it’s likely that some attacks will also target western interests and tourists from western countries, particularly in the major cities.
You should be vigilant, follow the advice of local security authorities, monitor media reports and keep up to date with this travel advice.
The report stated Turkish authorities are stopping members of the public to carry out ID checks, especially in busy areas such as Istanbul.
There’s also a larger than usual number of police checkpoints on main roads across Turkey. You should co-operate with officials conducting checks, and keep your passport and a printed copy of your e-visa or your residence permit with you at all times.
Most terrorist attacks in Turkey have taken place in the south and east of the country, and in Ankara and Istanbul. While attacks are most likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations, it is still possible some attacks will target western interests and tourists from western countries, particularly in the major cities.
To reassure those who are travelling, the statement said:
The Turkish authorities have successfully disrupted attack planning in the recent past and have said that security has been tightened in response to recent attacks.
Following an attempted coup on July 15-16 2016, the political situation in Turkey has calmed. However, the security environment remains potentially volatile and a state of emergency is in place.
British nationals made over 1.7 million visits to Turkey in 2016. Most visits are trouble free, but the government are urging tourists to ‘be alert to your surroundings and remain vigilant in crowded places popular with foreign nationals, including during festival periods’.
If you’re travelling to Turkey, you can contact the emergency services by calling 155 (police), 112 (ambulance) and 110 (fire).
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.