PM: Anzac travel to Turkey will go on

Australian and New Zealanders at the dawn service at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli last year.  Photo:...
Australian and New Zealanders at the dawn service at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli last year. Photo: Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the tradition of New Zealanders going to Gallipoli for Anzac commemorations will continue, despite recent comments by Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan.

In the wake of the deadly attacks at two Christchurch mosques last week, Mr Erdogan has caused alarm by playing at rallies footage the gunman livestreamed of the attack by an Australian-born gunman, despite New Zealand's request for the distressing and violent footage not be distributed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty Images

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: Presidential Press Service via AP
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: Presidential Press Service via AP
Fifty people died and dozens more are injured after the attack during prayers on March 15.

Speaking at a campaign rally in northern Turkey, he criticised the Anzacs for their role in Gallipoli and threatened to send New Zealanders and Australians who came to his country with anti-Islam sentiment, back in a casket.

And in a message in a speech apparently aimed at New Zealanders and Westerners he said: ‘‘Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins.

‘‘If you come as well like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers.’’

In Christchurch yesterday, Ms Ardern said the comments would not affect the long-term Turkey-New Zealand relationship.  New Zealanders had gone to Gallipoli in Turkey for decades and Kiwis wanted to continue to do so.

Ms Ardern said she did not anticipate a change in New Zealand's relationship with that country.

"It is so deeply entrenched. They have cared for our fallen. I reject the idea we are losing that relationship."

The flags of New Zealand, Australia and Turkey fly at Anzac Cove. Photo: Getty Images
The flags of New Zealand, Australia and Turkey fly at Anzac Cove. Photo: Getty Images
PETERS TO MEET WITH ERDOGAN

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday called in Turkey's ambassador to New Zealand to explain Mr Erdogan’s inflammatory comments 

Foreign Minister Winston Peters would deal with the issue, and the comments, face to face when he arrived in Turkey this week, Ms Ardern said.

Mr Peters left the country yesterday headed for Turkey after a stop in Indonesia to express his condolences for the Indonesian killed in the Christchurch attacks.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is on a trip to Indonesia and Turkey in the wake of the...
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is on a trip to Indonesia and Turkey in the wake of the mosque killings. Photo: Getty Images
Mr Peters made the comments on Wednesday while in Jakarta for a meeting with other leaders on Indo-Pacific cooperation.

Lilik Abdul Hamid, an aircraft maintenance engineer at Air New Zealand, was killed in the Al Noor mosque. Two other Indonesians, a father and son, were seriously wounded.

Mr Peters also expressed his appreciation of Indonesia's support during a difficult time for New Zealand. Earlier, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed his gratitude that the suspect in the killings of 50 worshippers at the two mosques last Friday was arrested quickly.

Saying "our country changed forever," Mr Peters vowed the New Zealand Government would not detour from the sight of the victims and that questions about gun reforms would be answered quickly.

"This time next week you will see the principles behind what we have said developing into a new law to go to the Parliament."

He said it would be premature to review New Zealand's travel advisory on Turkey and planned to address Mr Erdogan's comments when he got there.

ACT leader David Seymour said he hoped Mr Peters would protest when he was in Turkey in the strongest possible terms.

"Somebody who politically campaigns off the back of this tragedy in any country is morally deplorable and we should be taking the strongest possible stance to stand up for that principle and show those values."

Justice Minister Andrew Little said any security fears around the Gallipoli commemorations in Turkey would continue to be monitored.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Getty Images
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Getty Images

COMMENTS OFFENSIVE, SAYS MORRISON

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a strong rebuke to the Turkish President. He was reportedly considering expelling Turkey’s ambassador after Mr Erdogan’s ‘‘highly offensive and highly reckless’’ comments,

Australian security agencies were now reviewing whether it was safe for Australians to travel to Gallipoli for Anzac Day services.

"I don't find these comments very helpful, I don't find them very accurate or truthful as well because the actions of the Australian and the New Zealand governments have been consistent with our values of welcome and supporting people from all around the world".

Mr Morrison said the ambassador suggested that Mr Erdogan, who was in the midst of election campaigning, made the comments in the heat of the moment. But he said those excuses did not wash with him.

- NZME, AP, RNZ and ABC

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