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Travel advisory to Turkey unchanged for Kiwis

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Thursday, 21 March 2019, 11:34a.m.
Travel advice for New Zealanders heading to Turkey remains unchanged following inflammatory comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo / AP
Travel advice for New Zealanders heading to Turkey remains unchanged following inflammatory comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo / AP

Travel advice for New Zealanders heading to Turkey remains unchanged following inflammatory comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Christchurch terror attack.

While Australia is reviewing its travel advice for tourists planning to visit Gallipoli for Anzac Day after the "deeply offensive" and "insulting" threats made by Erdogan, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said its advisory updated in November last year remains current.

Erdogan told supporters at a political rally any New Zealanders or Australians who went to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in a coffin "like your grandfathers were" during the World War I Gallipoli campaign.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday condemned the comments as "highly offensive" and "highly reckless in this very sensitive environment", according to the Daily Telegraph.

"They are offensive because they insult the memory of our Anzacs and they violate the pledge that is etched in the stone at Gallipoli, of the promise of Ataturk to the mothers of other Anzacs. I am expecting, and I have asked for, these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn."

When asked yesterday about the comments Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took a more measured approach, saying that her focus remained on New Zealand and the Muslim community here.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters was last night on his way to Turkey to speak to Erdogan over the comments.

MFAT today said its advisory on travel to Turkey remained the same as in November when it was last updated.

The advisory was to avoid non-essential travel to certain areas of Turkey including parts of the south east and within 10km of the border with Syria, because of the threat of terrorism and kidnapping.

It also warned Kiwis to exercise caution in the capital Istanbul and Ankara where there had been four terrorist attacks since mid-2016, killing a total 129 people including foreign nationals.

"The Ministry regularly reviews its travel advisories, and updates them in light of developments," a spokesman said.

"Our advisories are based on information from a number of sources. They reflect potential risks, and our assessment of what those risks might mean for New Zealanders."

Many New Zealanders make the pilgrimage to Anzac Cove at Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Day on April 25, marking the day Australian and New Zealand soldiers came ashore in 1915 with hundreds losing their lives on the beach that day.

In his speech Erdogan criticised New Zealand and Australia for sending troops to Turkey in the Gallipoli campaign, claiming the motive was anti-Islam-oriented, the Telegraph reported.

"What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here?" he said.

"The only reason, we're Muslim and they're Christian."

He also repeatedly showed extracts of the Christchurch massacre video, citing "rising hatred and prejudice against Islam".

Australia's Parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Defence, Darren Chester, said on Wednesday night their Government was closely monitoring the security situation in Turkey and "regards the safety of Australians who plan to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula as its highest priority".

"Higher security levels apply in some parts of the country because of the high threat of terrorist attack and the Prime Minister has asked that this advice is reviewed in light of recent developments,'' he said.

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