Abu Dhabi: A former lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling AK Party has released a map of “Greater Turkey” that goes back to the era of the Seljuk Empire and its defeat of the Byzantine Empire in the 1071 Battle of Manzikert.
Metin Külünk, who is close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published the map on Twitter to mark the anniversary of the battle that fell on August 26, amid tension between Turkey and Greece over a dispute on oil and gas exploration in the east Mediterranean.
The controversial map shows what he called “Greater Turkey” that includes vast territories spanning from northern Greece to the east Aegean islands, half of Bulgaria, Cyprus, most of Armenia and large swaths of Georgia, Iraq and Syria.
Külünk’s move sparked huge controversy at a time when Turkey has intervened in northern Syria, northern Iraq, in addition to Libya, and is involved in a dispute with Greece and Cyprus.
In a series of tweets, Külünk said Turkey regained the spirit of the Manzikert Victory after the failed coup against Erdogan on July 15, 2016.
After the death of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish people fell under western influence, until they were awoken by Erdogan, he said.
“That’s why the West is currently pressuring us to get us out of these areas, but they are unaware that we have regained the spirit of independence. We are armed with science, technology and power,” he added.
Turkey has recently witnessed discussions on what is called the “blue homeland,” a plan repeatedly mentioned by Defense Minister Hulusi Akar to impose Turkish control on the seas on its shores (the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea).
But its plans have come under severe criticism by the United States, the European Union and the countries of the region.
Turkey’s presence in northern Iraq and its repeated operations there against Kurdish fighters have angered the government in Baghdad. Ankara’s presence in northeastern Syria, under the excuse of guaranteeing the safety of its border from Syria’s Kurds, has also put it at loggerheads with the US.
According to observers, Turkey’s new approach, which clearly indicates its attempts to reclaim the heritage of the Ottoman empire, has taken a violent turn after it has resorted to military intervention instead of adopting a policy of “zero problems with neighbours.”