According to reports, the Turkish president screened excerpts of the video posted on social media by the Christchurch attacker during the mosque shootings. Those excerpts were allegedly projected at Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s public addresses during his tours around Turkey as part of his campaign ahead of local election.
The most inflammatory comment was: “Your grandparents came here and they returned in caskets,” referring to Australia and New Zealand citizens and comparing them to their ancestors, the Anzacs, whose motives were anti-Islam oriented.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison responded immediately stating that he was “very offended”; “I don’t find these comments very helpful,” he said.
“I don’t find them very accurate or truthful as well, because the actions of the Australian and New Zealand governments have been consistent with our values of welcoming and supporting people from all around the world.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also disturbed by the remarks, as was Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Meanwhile, in a press release forwarded to Neos Kosmos, the Turkish Embassy in Australia said:
“It has come to our attention that some news and commentaries are being increasingly published in some media circles alleging that there is a hostile environment in Turkey against the citizens of Australia and New Zealand and that it is not secure to travel to Turkey, including for the Canakkale Land Battles Commemorations that will take place on 24-25 April 2019. The Turkish Embassy would like to categorically rule out the existence of such a hostile environment or any security threat in Turkey against our Anzac brothers and sisters. We would like to assure that all foreign guests intending to visit Turkey, including our Anzac brothers and sisters, are most welcome to our country. We will continue to work together with Australia and New Zealand, to further deepen our special relations befitting our historic ties.”
Neos Kosmos contacted both the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne as well as the Embassy of Turkey in Australia for further clarification regarding the videos and the Turkish President’s exact intentions, to which the later responded that “President Erdoğan’s words were unfortunately taken out of context”.
“He was responding to the so-called manifesto of the terrorist who killed 50 innocent Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. Turks have always been the most welcoming and gracious hosts to their Anzac visitors,” the Turkish Embassy spokesperson told Neos Kosmos providing two documents with the correct translation of the President’s comments (see documents 1 & 2 below).
“The terrorist’s manifesto not only targeted Erdogan himself but also the Turkish people and the Turkish state,” the spokesperson continued.
“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.”