Australian PM slams Turkish President Erdogan for "deeply offensive" comments

The hardline president has also repeatedly screened footage of the Christchurch massacre in which Australian-born gunman Brenton Tarrant allegedly killed 50 people and injured dozens more.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison summoned Turkey's ambassador on Wednesday and demanded that Erdogan take back comments suggesting that Australians and New Zealanders had sent troops to fight Turkey in the WWI Gallipoli campaign motivated by an opposition to Islam.

The Matildas are set to arrive Antalya on May 19 for a 10-day training camp - with their first match at the Women's World Cup in France against Italy on June 9. Although the battle later helped cement friendship among the three countries, it remains a highly sensitive subject in Australia and New Zealand.

"This important event will allow New Zealand to join with our partners in standing against terrorism and speaking up for values such as understanding and religious tolerance", Peters said in a statement on Tuesday.

Erdogan's remarks came in response to a tweet by Yair in which he said "I will remind him that Istanbul is actually a city called Constantinople!" Turks have always been the most welcoming & gracious hosts to their Anzac (Australia and New Zealand) visitors.

Mr Morrison - who is also in full campaign mode, ahead of a general election - had on Wednesday (March 20) pilloried Mr Erdogan for his comments in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, describing them as "reckless" and "highly offensive".

"It's my intention to break any cycle of recklessness, to work through these issues practically, to register in the strongest and clearest of terms the offence that was taken - I believe rightly - by those comments yesterday, but now to work constructively", Morrison told reporters in Melbourne.

"We have been here for 1,000 years and will be here until the apocalypse, God willing", Erdogan told a rally on Monday.

"The only reason, we're Muslim and they're Christian". Erdogan has cast the local elections as a "matter of survival" in the face of threats including Kurdish militants, Islamophobia and incidents such as the New Zealand shootings.

In a parallel development, New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters said that he had told his Turkish counterpart that the horrific video didn't represent his country, and added that the clip could endanger Kiwis overseas.

All this was a long way from the urging of then Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu who arrived in Australia in 2014 for the Brisbane G20 summit with a message of progressive optimism.

"He is disrespecting ANZACs by referring to their return to Australia and New Zealand in coffins, while at the same time threatening those of our citizens who wish to pay respects to the memory of our ANZACs in Gallipoli".

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

Morrison said: "Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these [Erdogan's] comments are at odds with that spirit".


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