Anzac Day plans proceed in Turkey despite ‘coffins’ warning for Australians

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester advised anyone planning to travel to Turkey for Anzac Day to monitor the latest travel advice, which currently states that travellers exercise a “high degree of caution” in Turkey.

Mr Erdogan said the attack on two mosques in Christchurch was a test for Muslims and followed this with a suggestion that Australians and New Zealanders could suffer if they went to Turkey.

“Your grandparents came [and] some of them returned in coffins. If you come as well, like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers,” he said.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Credit:AP

Mr Erdogan, who is less than two weeks away from crucial local elections, made the comments at an election rally.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Turkey to “confront” Turkey over the remarks.

“He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.

RSL Victoria president Robert Webster said the remarks were no reason for Australians to stop visiting Gallipoli.

“Commemoration should continue at Anzac Cove for ever more,” Dr Webster said.

The Victorian division is expecting to host a delegation of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Turkish fighters next month so the visitors can meet the descendants of Australian soldiers in Melbourne.

ACT RSL president John King said he would wait for the government’s travel advice before taking a position on whether Australians should travel to Gallipoli but said there were many years of friendship with the Turkish people.


“I don’t believe the local people in the vicinity of the peninsula would have any animosity toward Australians and New Zealanders at all,” Mr King said.

Queensland RSL president Tony Ferris said Mr Erdogan’s comments dishonoured the memories of all those who gave their lives at Gallipoli, from Turkey as well as Australia and New Zealand.

“At a time when we should be united in condemning hatred and prejudice, his comments are deeply disappointing,” he said.

Mr Morrison told reporters on Wednesday morning that Mr Erdogan’s comments were highly offensive and inexcusable and demanded a retraction.

“They insult the memory of our Anzacs,” he said.

“I do not accept the excuses that have been offered for those comments.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Erdogan’s remarks were foolish and offensive.

“Intemperate and regrettable remarks like this only play into the hands of those who seek to divide. They do not protect the peace and security of any nation,” he said.

Following the Christchurch attack, Bangladesh’s foreign affairs ministry released its own travel advice, encouraging citizens to “be vigilant” if they travel to Australia.

“Five people of Bangladesh origin died and three people from Bangladesh origin were injured by the gun attack,” the advice reads.

“Bangladesh nationals living in Australia and Bangladesh nationals travelling to Australia are advised to be vigilant at all times, particularly in public places.”

David Crowe is Chief Political Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Max is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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