Turkey’s government has sent a letter to the United Nations formally requesting that it be referred to as Türkiye, the state-run news agency has reported.
The move is seen as part of a push by Ankara to rebrand the country and dissociate it from the bird of the same name and negative connotations associated with it.
Anadolu Agency said Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson to UN secretary general António Guterres, confirmed receipt of the letter from Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Turkish foreign minister. The agency quoted Dujarric as saying that the name change had become effective “from the moment” the letter was received. Dujarric told the Washington Post: “It is not uncommon for us to receive such requests.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has been pressing for the internationally recognised name Turkey to be changed to Türkiye (tur-key-YAY) as it is spelled and pronounced in Turkish. The country called itself Türkiye in 1923 after its declaration of independence.
In December 2021, Erdoğan ordered the use of Türkiye to better represent Turkish culture and values, including demanding that “Made in Türkiye” be used instead of “Made in Turkey” on exported products. Turkish ministries also began using Türkiye in official documents.
The government this year released a promotional video as part of its attempts to change its name in English. The video shows tourists from across the world saying “Hello Türkiye” at famous destinations.
The Turkish presidency’s directorate of communications said it launched the campaign “to promote more effectively the use of ‘Türkiye’ as the country’s national and international name on international platforms”.
It was not clear whether the name, with a letter that doesn’t exist in the English alphabet, will catch on widely abroad. In 2016, the Czech Republic officially registered its short-form name, Czechia, and while some international institutions use it, many still refer to the country by its longer name.
Turkey’s English-language state broadcaster TRT World has switched to using Türkiye although the word Turkey slips in, used by journalists still trying to get used to the change.
TRT World explained the decision in an article earlier this year, saying Googling “Turkey” brings up a “a muddled set of images, articles, and dictionary definitions that conflate the country with Meleagris – otherwise known as the turkey, a large bird native to North America – which is famous for being served on Christmas menus or Thanksgiving dinners.”
The network continued: “Flip through the Cambridge Dictionary and ‘turkey’ is defined as ‘something that fails badly’ or ‘a stupid or silly person’.”
TRT World argued that Turks prefer their country to be called Türkiye, in “keeping with the country’s aims of determining how others should identify it”.
With Associated Press