Turkey marked the 98th anniversary of the decisive War of Independence battle against Greek forces on Sunday 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 military exercises in the seas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.
"Turkey, in the eastern Mediterranean in particular, will not bow to threatening, intimidation and blackmailing language, will continue to defend its rights arising from international law and bilateral agreements," Erdogan said.
President Erdogan, senior government and high-ranking military officials, and opposition leaders laid a wreath on Sunday at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Turkish Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the capital Ankara.
“Our critical achievements in different fields are the clearest indication of our will to protect the rights and interests of our country,” Erdogan wrote in the Anitkabir memorial book.
He also wrote: “We are determined to enter 2023, where we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of our Republic, as a stronger, more independent, and more prosperous country in economic, military, political, and diplomatic terms.”
Greece disputed Turkey's current energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.
Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that Ankara and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.
Ankara has earlier said energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the TRNC, which has issued Turkish state oil company Turkish Petroleum a license, and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.
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