In a new first indicating an exacerbation of the incendiary rhetoric emanating from Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the Aegean Sea by the name “Sea of Islands,” while reiterating claims of “provocations” in the eastern Mediterranean, referring indirectly to renewed Greek-Turkish tensions in recent days.
Erdogan’s remarks echoed those of a retired admiral, Cihat Yayci, one of the main architects of the “Blue Homeland” theory which envisions Turkish influence over vast swathes of the eastern Mediterranean.
In particular, Yaci has asked for the name of the Aegean to be changed, as it is Greek (the Turks call it Ege), and referred to as the “Sea of Islands.”
There should be no “concerns about Turkey’s presence from the eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea, as well as in the Aegean, which old-timers called the Sea of Islands,” Erdogan told a congress of his AKP party in Istanbul.
“We have a presence there with all our strength, with all our possibilities and we will continue to be there,” he said, adding that Turkey will also secure all its rights “in all the waters that surround us.”
Erdogan went on to say that Turkey will strengthen its ties “with its brothers in the geographical areas within our cultural reach,” from the Balkans to the Caucasus and from Central Asia to Africa.
He also revisited the violent eviction of thousands of Greeks from Smyrna (modern-day Izmir) during the Greek-Turkish war of 1922. “We spoiled their dreams then and we will do the same with similar dreams on our southeastern borders,” he said.