Erdoğan says Jerusalem is ‘our city’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described Jerusalem as ‘our city’ in a speech to lawmakers in Ankara, Haberler reported on Friday.

“In this city that we had to leave in tears during the First World War, it is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance. So Jerusalem is our city, a city from us,” Erdoğan said in his speech at the opening of the Turkish parliament's fourth legislative session of its 27th term in Ankara. 

As well as touching on the ongoing disputes with Ankara’s neighbours in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus, the Turkish President spent a number of minutes talking about the “oppression of Israel against the Palestinians and the indifferent practices that disregard the privacy of Jerusalem”, according to the Times of Israel.

Erdoğan stated that Turkey had a special connection to the people of Palestine due to the fact that the Ottoman Empire was responsible for the architecture of parts of Jerusalem.

He said that “the current physical appearance of the Old City, which is the heart of Jerusalem, was built by Suleiman the Magnificent, with its walls, bazaar, and many buildings. Our ancestors showed their respect for centuries by keeping this city in high esteem.” 

Despite condemning Israeli actions towards Palestine, both Israel and Turkey are militarily backing Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia has withdrawn its ambassador from Israel after reports emerged of Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) being used by Azerbaijan against Armenian forces.

In the long speech, Erdoğan said “I pay homage to all past Members of Parliament who had served our country as members of the Grand National Assembly ever since its inauguration.” However, not all members of the Assembly attended the speech, with deputies from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) boycotting the meeting to protest outside the parliament building.

Erdoğan also recalled that 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the first session of the Grand National Assembly. “This year is the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of the Grand National Assembly with prayers, takbirs, excitement, and enthusiasm”, Erdoğan said. Turkey was founded as a secular republic in 1923 when the Ottoman Empire ended and the Sultan’s religious role as the Caliph of Islam was abolished by the Assembly.

“The better we know our history and the better we protect it, the more confidently we can look to our future”, Erdoğan told the Assembly.