Australian PM Morrison slams Turkish leader Erdogan's threats
Morrison: Turkish President's comments 'reckless' and 'highly offensive'
SYDNEY : Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned "reckless" and "highly offensive" comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, warning he would consider "all options" in reviewing ties.
On the campaign trail, the Turkish leader has used video footage of the terror attack that killed 50 people and painted it as part of an assault on Turkey and Islam.
He has also warned anti-Muslim Australians - like the suspected gunman - would be "sent back in coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, the scene of a blood-drenched World War I battle. More than 8,000 Australians died fighting Turkish forces around the seaside town, a landmark moment in Australian history.
"Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment," Mr Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the "excuses" offered.
"I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn," said Mr Morrison, who also faces an election challenge in the coming weeks.
"I've asked for these comments, particularly their reporting of the misrepresented position of Australia on Turkish television, the state-sponsored broadcaster, to be taken down and I expect that to occur."
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to be drawn on Mr Erdogan's comments, but said her deputy would be going to Turkey to "set the record straight".
Mr Morrison said Australians travelling to Turkey should exercise common sense and cautioned that travel advice for Turkey was under review.
'ALL OPTIONS ARE ON TABLE'
"I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table," Mr Morrison said.
In fiery remarks, he accused Mr Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - the father of the modern state and a revered figure in Turkey - to forge peace between the two countries.
"Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and, an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Erdogan had already been sharply rebuked by New Zealand for his comments and for using gruesome video shot by the Christchurch mosque gunman as an election campaign prop.
New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters protested on Monday that such politicisation of the massacre "imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it's totally unfair".
Mr Peters announced on Tuesday that he would be travelling to Turkey this week to attend a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Mr Peters also said he had complained directly to visiting Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. - AFP