'Highly Offensive, Reckless': PM Lashes Out At Turkish President Over Christchurch Comments
Scott Morrison has warned Australians planning to travel to Gallipoli to "remain cautious" and await advice from DFAT with the travel advisory to Turkey now under review.
The Prime Minister unleashed on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over controversial comments the Turkish President made in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack and said: "all options were on the table".
The Turkish leader's comments were widely-condemned earlier this week after he threatened anyone who entered Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back "in coffins", "like their grandfathers were", invoking the battle at Gallipoli.
On Wednesday, Morrison slammed the comments as "highly offensive to Australians, and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment".
"They are offensive because they insult the memory of our Anzacs and they violate the pledge that is etched in the stone at Gallipoli."
Morrison said comments made by the Turkish President during recent political rallies, "completely misrepresent" the strong position taken by both Australians and New Zealanders in condemning the attack which saw 50 people massacred inside two Christchurch mosques.
The Prime Minister also warned the thousands of Australians who have made plans to travel to Gallipoli in April for Anzac Day to use "common sense" and "exercise caution".
Morrison said the travel advisory for Turkey was now under review and urged anyone making travel plans to the country to await further advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading.
The current advice for Australian travellers to Turkey is to exercise a "high degree of caution". This means any escalation of the advisory could result in advice to reconsider travel or not to travel at all to the area.
But Morrison also insisted he was not attributing the comments made by Erdogan to all Turkish people.
"I don't think it does reflect the views of the Turkish people, or certainly of Turkish Australians. My job is to keep Australians safe," he said.
"I choose to have faith in the tremendous relationship between the Australian and Turkish people, which has been experienced by Australians as they've travelled with Kiwis to Gallipoli for many, many, many years and the experience, the hospitality and goodwill of the Turkish people.
I choose to believe in the good faith and great citizenship of Turkish Australians in this country."
Turkey's ambassador to Australia was summoned to Parliament on Wednesday morning as Morrison demanded an explanation over Erdogan's comments.
Morrison said he refused to accept "excuses" made by the ambassador who apparently said the comments were made "in the heat of the moment".
The PM demanded the comments be withdrawn and taken down from broadcast on state-sponsored television in Turkey.
"Turkish Australians have made an extraordinary contribution to this country and particularly over more than a century as they've joined with us to commemorate the battles of Gallipoli," Morrison said.
They have demonstrated, I think, both a spirit of goodwill and I know that they would not seek to be associated with these comments at all.
Erdogan had been touring North Turkey over the weekend for election rallies when the comments were made.
He has been accused of using an edited, blurred version of the live-streamed vision of the Christchurch mosque attack which was uploaded to social media by the gunman.
Featured Image: AAP.