This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 13 °C Monday 14 October, 2019
Advertisement

Australia furious as Turkey's president refers to Gallipoli after Christchurch mosque attack

Scott Morrison warned he would consider “all options” in reviewing ties between the two countries.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party, in Istanbul yesterday.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party, in Istanbul yesterday.
Image: AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER Scott Morrison condemned the “reckless” and “highly offensive” comments made by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre.

Morrison has warned that he would consider “all options” in reviewing ties between the two countries. 

On the campaign trail, the Turkish leader has used video footage of the terror attack that killed 50 people and painted it as part of an assault on Turkey and Islam.

He has also warned anti-Muslim Australians – like the suspected gunman – would be “sent back in coffins” like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, which was the scene of a blood-drenched WWI battle.

More than 8,000 Australians died fighting Turkish forces around the seaside town, a landmark moment in Australian history.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn,” said Morrison, who also faces an election challenge in the coming weeks.

I’ve asked for these comments, particularly their reporting of the misrepresented position of Australia on Turkish television, the state-sponsored broadcaster, to be taken down and I expect that to occur.

He described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile”.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to be drawn on Erdogan’s comments, but said her deputy would be going to Turkey to “set the record straight”.

Morrison said Australians travelling to Turkey should exercise common sense and cautioned that travel advice for Turkey was under review.

“I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table,” Morrison said.

In fiery remarks, Morrison accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the father of the modern state and a revered figure in Turkey – to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at the battlefield carries Ataturk’s words:

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets… after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and, an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

‘Totally unfair’

Erdogan had already been sharply rebuked by New Zealand for his comments and for using gruesome video shot by the Christchurch mosque gunman as an election campaign prop.

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters protested on Monday that such politicisation of the massacre “imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair”.

Peters announced yesterday that he would be travelling to Turkey this week at Istanbul’s request to attend a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Three Turkish nationals were wounded in the rampage that killed 50 worshippers at two mosques in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch last Friday.

The accused gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist from Australia, live-streamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Muslim “invaders”.

The manifesto references Turkey and the minarets of Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia, now a museum, that was once a church before becoming a mosque during the Ottoman empire.

“This is not an isolated event, it is something more organised,” Erdogan said during a campaign event on Monday in Canakkale in western Turkey.

They are testing us with the message they are sending us from New Zealand, 16,500 km (10,250 miles) from here.

Erdogan did not project the video at the Monday event.

Peters said he had complained directly to visiting Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

- © AFP, 2019

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (56)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel