Diplomatic relations

By: Clayton Mitchell

Clayton Mitchell
New Zealand First MP

The recent visit of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Rt Hon Winston Peters to Turkey following the Christchurch terror should be heralded as a success for our country’s diplomatic relations. The Minister achieved the paramount goal of the visit: to give assurances to Muslim nations about New Zealand’s core beliefs.

The visit to Turkey at the request of the Turkish Government, was to attend a special ministerial meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation being held in Istanbul. The Deputy Prime Minister stated that this trip would be an opportunity to “set the record straight”, following President Erdogan’s statements regarding New Zealanders travelling to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments and playing extracts of the terrorist attack at his campaign rallies.

During the Rt Hon Winston Peters speech he made before the 57 foreign Ministers in attendance, he commended the heroic actions of New Zealanders, the immediate response of the police, the overwhelming support of the Christchurch community towards their Muslim community and victims of the attack. He also highlighted the Prime Minister’s swift response and actions, and the solidarity of New Zealanders in the wake of the tragedy. The Deputy Prime Minister also made it clear that the attacker was not a New Zealander and that his beliefs were completely contrary to the values of New Zealand.

Following the speech, President Erdogan expressed his gratitude towards the people of New Zealand and commended the swift and sincere response to the tragedy to be held as a good example for all the leaders of the world. The Turkish embassy in New Zealand has also stated that Turkey is not a hostile environment against New Zealand citizens and that foreign guests are certainly welcome.