Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned ‘reckless’ and ‘highly offensive’ comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, warning he would consider ‘all options’ in reviewing ties.
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“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn,” said Morrison. “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.