Why Winston Peters didn't confront Turkish President Erdoğan over Christchurch video

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has defended not asking the Turkish President to stop showing footage of the Christchurch shooting in a campaign video. 

The Deputy Prime Minister had just arrived back in New Zealand after spending time in Turkey, where he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and attended a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

Peters was expected to confront Erdoğan after it was revealed he had played footage from the Christchurch mosque shootings in a campaign video - livestream footage that has been banned in New Zealand.  

Erdoğan stirred up more controversy after he said any New Zealanders who travel to Turkey with intentions similar to the alleged gunman would be sent home in coffins like their ANZAC grandfathers in World War I. 

Last Tuesday, Peters said he would travel to Turkey to "put the record straight" over Erdoğan's comments, and said he intended to "put New Zealand's record as an innocent party to an act of a foreigner in our country". 

But just hours after Peters met with Erdoğan in Istanbul, the video of the Christchurch shooting was played again in one of the President's campaign videos. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan. Photo credit: Getty

Why didn't he 'put the record straight'?

Peters emerged from his brief meeting with Erdoğan in Istanbul saying he had not raised the controversial comments the Turkish leader made at his rallies or the video of the Christchurch shooting. 

"I did not ask that question because I felt that I did not have to ask it, because they are not doing that anymore," Peters told reporters after attending a meeting of the OIC. 

But the video had been played again, and Peters addressed it on Monday alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who defended him. 

"We've already shared our view on that - it has gone directly to their representatives here in New Zealand," she said, referring to a Turkish delegation that arrived in New Zealand after the Christchurch attack. 

"We continue to maintain absolutely the same view on the video, whether it's social media providers, whether it's other countries - we have a clear view on that."

Peters said the footage Erdoğan aired in his campaign video after their meeting was different to the original. He said the clip had been shortened and blurred. 

"It could not have been a bigger change. There are blurred parts of it where New Zealand has been taken out. His personal rhetoric around the video has utterly changed - there's no mention of New Zealand anymore," Peters said. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. Photo credit: Newshub

"I did point out to him that any view that we're a white supremacist country should be put to rest and I gave him the reason why, and he accepted it, and gave me an assurance that our young people in particular would be as safe as they always have been for decades."

Peters pointed to an article Erdoğan wrote for The Washington Post, in which he praised Ardern for her empathy after the mosque shootings by embracing the Muslim community. 

Erdoğan also thanked New Zealand for showing sensitivity and determination after the attack during a speech to the OIC meeting, where he again praised the Prime Minister as an example to world leaders. 

Was he asleep at OIC gathering?

Why Winston Peters didn't confront Turkish President Erdoğan over Christchurch video
Photo credit: Newshub

Peters also addressed speculation that he had fallen asleep during the OIC meeting while Erdoğan was speaking. 

Newshub's Europe correspondent Lloyd Burr, who was there, said Peters' display was "an incredible contrast to the performance and leadership Jacinda Ardern has shown since the [Christchurch] tragedy". 

Peters said it was "amazing" when asked to confirm if he had been asleep. 

"I've got a full list of everybody that spoke, where they came from, the order they spoke," he said on Monday. 

"You can be in deep contemplation and know what's going on at the same time, which I was, and that's why I've kept a record of it."