Monday 14 October 2019

Turkey’s Erdogan triggers spat with Australia and New Zealand

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised New Zealand and Australia for sending troops to Turkey in the First World War Gallipoli campaign.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

By Suzan Fraser, Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked a diplomatic spat with New Zealand and Australia by portraying the Christchurch mosque shooting and a First World War battle as targeting Islam.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison summoned Turkey’s ambassador and demanded Mr Erdogan take back comments suggesting that Australians and New Zealanders had sent troops to fight Turkey in the First World War Gallipoli campaign motivated by an opposition to Islam.

In more inflammatory comments made as he campaigns for votes in local elections this month, Mr Erdogan also said Australians and New Zealanders travelling to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in coffins, “like their grandfathers” were in the Gallipoli campaign.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits the graves of fallen Turkish soldiers in Canakkale on Monday (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

Mr Morrison’s government issued a travel advisory warning people visiting the Gallipoli battlefields for remembrance ceremonies during the anniversary of the campaign next month to exercise caution.

Mr Morrison said “all options are on the table” if Mr Erdogan does not withdraw his comments.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later held a telephone conversation with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said.

Ignoring widespread criticism, Mr Erdogan has been screening at his campaign rallies excerpts of a video taken by the gunman who killed 50 people in mosques in Christchurch, to denounce what he calls rising hatred and prejudice against Islam.

He has also been showing parts of a manifesto said to have been left by the gunman in which he threatens Turks and Mr Erdogan himself.

On Wednesday, Mr Erdogan – inaugurating a theme park in Ankara as part of his campaign for the March 31 elections – called for votes for his ruling party candidates as a response to “occupiers who attempt to threaten our nation from tens of thousands of kilometres away”.

PA Media

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