Turkey marks 1922 victory over Greece amid Med tensions

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey marked the 98th anniversary of the decisive War of Independence battle against Greek forces yesterday as the threat of a new conflict with Athens looms in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Turkey’s struggle for independence and future continues today as well,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a message to commemorate Victory Day.

“It is absolutely not a coincidence that those who seek to exclude us from the eastern Mediterranean are the same invaders as the ones who attempted to invade our homeland a century ago.”

In recent weeks, Turkish and Greek forces have engaged in a series of cat-and-mouse military exercises in the seas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete. The confrontation was sparked when Turkey sent a research vessel accompanied by warships to search for gas and oil reserves.

European Union (EU) member Greece claims the waters are part of its continental shelf and has enlisted the support of the 27-nation bloc, which has condemned Turkey’s “illegal activities” and warned of potential sanctions against Ankara.

Turkey said Greece and others are denying its rights to explore for energy resources in the Mediterranean.

Greece and Cyprus have recently been joined by France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates in carrying out naval and aerial war games in the region.

Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan during a military honour guard ceremony at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in Ankara. PHOTO: AP