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Is Erdogan trying to split NATO with his East Med gambit?

Confronted with various problems at home, including deepening financial woes, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan resorts to aggressive and expansionist foreign policy moves to consolidate his support base through fueling nationalism.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a press conference following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on August 24, 2020. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The celebration commemorating the anniversary of the 1071 Seljuk victory over Byzantine armies turned into a display of nationalist frenzy, which indicates Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasing need to consolidate his support base by expansionist and aggressive foreign policy. 

The Battle of Manzikert took place 949 year ago. In 1071, the Seljuks, the Ottomans' predecessors, defeated the mainly Greek forces of the Byzantine Empire — a victory commemorated in Turkey as the beginning of the gradual Turkification of Anatolia. However, this year’s celebrations were different. All brouhaha surrounding the occasion were washed with chauvinistic metaphors.

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