Australians could be stopped from attending Anzac Day dawn services at Gallipoli after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned anti-Muslim visitors they could come home in coffins.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described his comments mocking World War I diggers as ‘deeply offensive’, just five weeks ahead of Anzac Day.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) referenced the doomed Gallipoli campaign during World War I by saying anti-Muslim visitors would be ‘returned in coffins’
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is now advising thousands of Australians, planning to travel to Turkey, to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’.
This is due to the high threat of terrorism in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre at two mosques in New Zealand.
Erdogan has inflamed previously-warm diplomatic ties by referencing the sacred Gallipoli campaign of 1915, following last week’s shooting spree which saw 50 Muslims killed.
Mr Morrison has confirmed he had summonsed the Turkish Ambassador to Australia Korhan Karakoc to Parliament House in Canberra to answer Erdogan’s ‘very offensive comments’.
‘I find the comments deeply offensive but also unhelpful,’ Mr Morrison told Sydney radio 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones on Wednesday.
‘I think it’s our job here not to escalate this. It’s our job to take the temperature down.’
Australians (pictured) could be stopped from attending Anzac Day services at Gallipoli after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned anti-Muslim visitors they could come home in coffins
On Tuesday Erdogan, a 65-year-old Islamist leader, referenced the doomed 1915 Gallipoli campaign of World War I during a public address on an outdoor podium in the northern Turkish town of Eregli.
‘Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins,’ he told an election rally featuring supporters waving Turkish flags.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described the Turkish President’s comments as ‘deeply offensive’
‘If you come as well like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers.’
The bodies of diggers killed in battle with Turks during World War I were not repatriated back to Australia, which makes Erdogan’s inflammatory comments historically inaccurate.
The Gallipoli campaign killed 8,141 Australians.
The nine-month Gallipoli campaign at the Dardanelles, in Turkey, saw 860 Australians killed in five days, following the doomed landing on April 25, 1915.
Erdogan had spoken at a rally featuring footage of the Christchurch massacre on New Zealand’s South Island.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after the lone gunman allegedly opened fire at two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is now advising Australians planning to travel to Turkey to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ (pictured are Australian and New Zealand soldiers at Canakkale in Turkey)
Erdogan had spoken at a rally featuring an image of independent Queensland senator Fraser Anning (pictured)
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also condemned Erdogan, and said Australians and New Zealanders would soon travel to Gallipoli to mark Anzac Day and 100 years of friendship with Turkey.
‘These are foolish and offensive remarks at a time when New Zealanders are mourning,’ Mr Shorten said.
The Erdogan rally also featured a screen image of independent Queensland senator Fraser Anning, who has been widely condemned in Australia for releasing a statement on Friday equating the Christchurch shootings with ‘the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence’.
Mr Morrison said Erdogan’s comments were at odds with Turkey’s secular founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who in 1934 said soldiers who died at Gallipoli were ‘in the soil of a friendly country’ at peace.
Erdogan’s inflammatory comments, following the Christchurch massacre (pictured) which killed 50 people, could be regarded as a threat to the thousands of Australians who visit Turkey in April every year for the dawn service at Anzac Cove
‘I find President Erdogan’s comments very at odds with what Ataturk said about our sons could lie safely on their shores and rest in peace there,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘I find it a violation of that.’
After World War I, Atatürk and his secular successors had fostered close diplomatic ties with Australia
Atatürk had warmly described the Australian and New Zealand casualties of Gallipoli as sons ‘now lying in our bosom’.
Erdogan, however, who became President in 2014 after serving as prime minister has broken decades of secular consensus in Turkey by ruling as an autocratic Islamist leader.
The Gallipoli reference is also particularly touchy, given that is the basis of the Anzac Day national public holiday in Australia and New Zealand (pictured are Australian troops in August 1915 disembarking on the Gallipoli peninsula during the nine-month Dardanelles campaign)
Turkey’s rift with Australia following the Christchurch massacre
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an election rally held on the Gallipoli Peninsula that Australia and New Zealand had sent troops to the area in the First World War with anti-Muslim motives.
‘Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins,’ he said. ‘If you come as well like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers.’
He also called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty for the Australian accused of attacking Christchurch mosques, warned that Turkey would make the perpetrator pay if New Zealand did not, and said the attack was evidence of a global anti-Muslim sentiment. Mr Erdogan has also reportedly been playing clips of the live-streamed video of the mosque attack at political rallies since it occurred on Friday.
Turkey will hold local elections on March 31.
HOW HAS AUSTRALIA RESPONDED?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison hauled Turkish ambassador Korhan Karakoc in for a dressing down on Wednesday over the comments he decried as ‘highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment’.
He also said it went against the promise of Turkey’s first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – etched in stone at Gallipoli – that soldiers who died there were in the soil of a friendly country. Mr Morrison said he did not accept the excuses offered that Mr Erdogan had made the remarks in the heat of the moment in an election context, and Australia was still considering its options.
He wants Mr Erdogan to clarify and withdraw his comments and for reporting on Turkish state-owned television that misrepresents Australia’s position to be taken down.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said they were ‘foolish and offensive remarks’ to make at a time when New Zealanders were mourning.
WHAT DID THE AMBASSADOR SAY?
Mr Karakoc told reporters on his way out of Parliament House: ‘We had a frank exchange with the prime minister and the Gallipoli spirit will always remain.’
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
Officials are reviewing travel advice for Turkey, where thousands of Australians would be planning to go next month for Anzac Day services. Other diplomatic options available would include asking for a formal apology or kicking out the ambassador.
Source: Australian Associated Press