Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lamented the loss of Thessaloniki, Greece and other Ottoman Empire territories, which he said were “as much a part of us as our blood, our life and our love.”
Speaking at a pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul on Saturday, Erdogan noted that Gaza was once a part of the Ottoman Empire. He then went on to equate cities in Greece, North Macedonia, Syria, Iraq, & Palestine to Turkish cities, claiming they were forcibly taken away from Turkish homeland.
“Today, some people see Gaza as a place far, far away, a place that has nothing to do with us, and even say this openly. However, a century ago, for this nation, for this country, Gaza was no different than Adana. Just as Edirne was no different than Skopje, Kırklareli was no different than Thessaloniki, Mardin was no different than Mosul, Gaziantep was no different than Aleppo, Gaza was an inseparable part of our homeland,” Erdogan told thousands of supporters.
“But they, unfortunately, separated the Turkish nation from all these lands that are as much our own as our blood, our lives and our love,” Erdogan continued.
In a pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul today, Turkish President Erdogan lamented for the loss of Ottoman territories.
He was equating cities in Greece, Macedonia, Syria, Iraq, & Palestine to Turkish cities, claiming they were forcibly taken away from Turkish homeland. pic.twitter.com/EFSjQbGpWg
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) October 28, 2023
“Not only did they physically separate us, but they have also turned every trick in the book to uproot them from our minds and hearts. We must never forget the lessons we learned from the dark days when millions of our people lost their lives and millions had to leave their homes and seek refuge in Anatolia,” he added.
Erdogan’s reference to Thessaloniki came a few days after the northern Greek city celebrated the anniversary of its liberation from the Ottomans.
It was October 26, 1912 when freedom bells rang in Thessaloniki, as the Greek army liberated the city.
Erdogan attacks Israel, supports Hamas
“Israel has been openly committing war crimes for 22 days, but the Western leaders cannot even call on Israel for a ceasefire, let alone react to it,” Erdogan told the crowd in Istanbul, who waved Palestinian flags.
“We will tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal. We are making preparations for this. We will declare Israel a war criminal,” he said.
In an hour-long speech, Erdogan also repeated his assertion that Hamas was not a terrorist organization, describing Israel as an occupier.
Turkey has condemned Israeli civilian deaths caused by Hamas’s Oct. 7 rampage through southern Israel, which killed 1,400, but Erdogan this week called the militant group Palestinian “freedom fighters”.
Unlike many NATO allies, the European Union and some Gulf states, Turkey does not consider Hamas a terrorist organisation. It has long hosted its members, supports a two-state solution and has offered to play a role in negotiating the release of hostages abducted by Hamas during the Oct. 7 assault.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “is entirely out of touch when he does not recognize this reality,” Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at a press conference on Friday.
Mitsotakis reiterated that Hamas is a terrorist organization that does not express the Palestinian people.
He added however, that “the fact that Greece and Türkiye disagree on this should not affect the framework of the Greek-Turkish dialogue and the positive steps taken in the last few months.”