Australia reviewing Anzac travel to Turkey over president's 'offensive' comments

Arturo Kim
March 22, 2019

"Turks have always been the most welcoming & gracious hosts to their #Anzac visitors", he added, referring to Australian and New Zealand veterans and families who are expected to travel to Gallipoli for the anniversary on April 25.

Australia's travel advice for Turkey is already set at "exercise a high degree of caution" due to the threat of terrorism.

"Your grandfathers came and saw that we were here", he said on Monday.

Altun also said Erdogan had made his remarks in a historical context relating to attacks past and present against Turkey, a move partly inspired, he said, by the fact the president was speaking near commemorative sites near the Gallipoli battlefields.

"Your grandparents came here and they returned in caskets", said Mr Erdogan in a message to Australia and New Zealand.

On March 15, at least 50 people were killed when a terrorist opened fire on worshippers during weekly Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Local elections will be held in Turkey on March 31 and Mr Erdogan's party is trailing in the polls.

In 2017, in the run-up to a referendum on expanding the powers of Turkey's president, Erdogan had lashed out at the Netherlands and Germany, comparing them to Nazis after they barred Turkish officials from holding campaign rallies there.

"He is setting the record straight, face-to-face", New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

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New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said Monday that he told his Turkish counterpart the video doesn't represent New Zealand.

"This is an outrageous response from the President of what our countries - Australia and New Zealand - consider an ally", said ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian. "Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers".

"The excuses I don't accept are things are said in the heat of the moment".

A memorial at Gallipoli 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".

Morrison said Australia's ambassador to Turkey will on Wednesday meet with the members of Erdogan's government.

The 17-minute footage of the fatal mosque shootings was first live-streamed by the accused gunman on Facebook, and the social media tech giant-along with Twitter and Google's YouTube-is struggling to spot new uploads despite enforcing a ban on the clip, reports The Guardian.

Mr Erdogan's full speech draws a clear connection between the Gallipoli campaign and the Christchurch attack. "As such, the statement is very unfortunate and incompatible with the good neighborly relations as well as the environment of trust that we try to develop with this country", the Turkish ministry said in a statement posted on its website in English.

MORRISON: They're offensive because they insult the memory of our ANZACs, and they violate the pledge that is etched in the stone at Gallipoli of the promise of Ataturk to the mothers of our ANZACs.

The use of the Christchurch footage was meant to bolster Erdogan's image as protector of Muslims in a world hostile to them.

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