Scott Morrison Calls Travel Warning Review For Those Heading To Turkey This Anzac Day

After the President’s offensive comments


20 March 2019


Article heading image for Scott Morrison Calls Travel Warning Review For Those Heading To Turkey This Anzac Day

The Turkish president's office has claimed an inflammatory address was taken out of context after the "highly offensive" speech sparked a major diplomatic row with Australia.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan played footage of the Christchurch massacre at a political rally before saying Australians with anti-Muslim views would be sent home in coffins like their grandfathers.

Mr Erdogan was referencing the WWI battle at Gallipoli, in which thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers died fighting the Turks.

"Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins," the Turkish president said.

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

Mr Morrison has rejected excuses from Turkey's ambassador to Australia, but Mr Erdogan's communications advisor Fahrettin Altun downplayed the comments.

"President Erdogan's words were unfortunately taken out of context," the senior aide tweeted.

"The terrorist's manifesto not only targeted Erdogan himself but also the Turkish people and the Turkish state. As he was giving the speech at the Canakkale (Gallipoli) commemoration, he framed his remarks in a historical context of attacks against Turkey, past and present."

A 28-year-old Australian white supremacist was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people.

Mr Morrison has called the Turkish leader's remarks "highly offensive to Australians" and "highly reckless in this very sensitive environment".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten backed Mr Morrison's stance on Mr Erdogan's "foolish" remarks.

The prime minister summoned Turkish ambassador Korhan Karakoc to Parliament House on Wednesday to explain the remarks and tell him the president should withdraw them.

"The excuses I don't accept are things are said in the heat of the moment. The excuses that I don't accept are that things are said in an electoral context," Mr Morrison said after the meeting.

Mr Morrison has confirmed all options for responding to Turkey are on the table.

Diplomatic options available include asking for a formal apology or kicking out the ambassador.

Officials are also reviewing travel advice for Turkey, where thousands of Australians would be planning to go next month for Anzac Day services.

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

Tour companies Fanatics and Intrepid, who take Australians to Gallipoli for Anzac Day, say their plans have not been rattled by the issue.

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