Turkey on Aug. 30 marked the 98th anniversary of Victory Day amid measures imposed against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The usual Victory Day celebrations will not be held allegedly due to the pandemic similar to other national holidays, even though massive crowds flocked to Istanbul's Hagia Sophia with total disregard to social distancing when it was opened to Muslim worship last month.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended a ceremony held at Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Turkish Republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and laid a wreath to pay respects alongside ministers.
Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan, 30 Ağustos Zafer Bayramı dolayısıyla Anıtkabir’de düzenlenen törene katılıyor https://t.co/8rsSjaT67z— T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı (@tcbestepe) August 30, 2020
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener also attended the ceremony.
Surprisingly, he was met with a group chanting pro-Erdoğan slogans upon leaving the mausoleum.
Anıtkabir'de 'Recep Tayyip Erdoğan' sloganları— Yol TV (@YolTV) August 30, 2020
Sınırlı sayıda ziyaretçi alınan Anıtkabir'de çelenk bırakma sonrası Erdoğan'a yönelik slogan atıldı pic.twitter.com/lIt1JB7v5C
Celebrations were also held in Istanbul's Taksim Square with the attendance of Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.
30 Ağustos Zafer Bayramımız kutlu olsun. Resmî tören için Taksim Cumhuriyet Anıtı’ndayız. https://t.co/sBd3bok3Ut— Ekrem İmamoğlu (@ekrem_imamoglu) August 30, 2020
A day earlier, Erdoğan released a statement to mark the day, the anniversary of the country's largest and final military operation, Great Offensive, where Turkish armies under Atatürk succeeded against Greek forces in 1922.
“With the victory on Aug. 30 , it has been declared to the whole world once again that these lands are our eternal homeland,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.
“It is no coincidence that those who tried to exclude our country from the eastern Mediterranean and those who attempted to invade our country a century ago are the same invaders,” he also said, referring to the recent tensions between Ankara and Athens in the region.
“Just as our nation has brought the struggle for liberation to victory despite the poverty and impossibility, today the Sevres in the Blue Homeland will never hesitate to negate their enthusiasm and moves,” Erdoğan added.
The restrictions on the Victory Day celebrations have stirred controversy once again, since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) tends to prevent widespread celebrations of national and secular holidays.
In a statement earlier this week, the Interior Ministry said that the restrictions were imposed to ensure public health.
“Our Aug. 30 Victory Day will be celebrated in a way that fits out state’s glory. We strongly urge not to pay heed to false statements that aim to direct the public wrongly with ideological motives and improper expectations,” Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said in a tweet.
“May our solidarity and livelihood be everlasting,” he added.