US agrees to switch from Turkey to Türkiye

US agrees to switch from Turkey to Türkiye

The US State Department has said it will start using Türkiye instead of Turkey at Ankara’s request to end the unwanted association with edible birds and failed movies.

The change comes six months after the United Nations agreed to recognise Türkiye.

“The Turkish embassy did request that we use this spelling in our communications,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“The department will use the spelling that you saw today in most of our formal diplomatic and bilateral contexts, including in public communications.”

But he added that the use of “Turkey” was not outlawed as it is “more widely understood by the American public”.

Turks have called their country Türkiye since 1923 when the Ottoman Empire fell and the Turkish Republic was formed.

The Pentagon has been using Türkiye since an August statement and the State Department has occasionally used the new spelling on social media.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2021 ordered the consistent use of Türkiye in Latin script.

Some observers question the rebranding, claiming Erdogan is trying to distract from Türkiye’s domestic woes.

“Turkey is crumbling under possibly the biggest financial crisis since the Second World War. Our two neighbours are at war with each other. There is world food security crisis. And this is the moment we decide to change the country’s name?” foreign policy specialist Yoruk Isik told the media in June.

Turks have long complained about western cartoons and other references that associate their country with poultry. Turkey’s are thought to be named because the British believed the North American species was from west Asia.

After Turkey’s humiliating 2021 3-0 defeat to Italy in the widely watched opening match of the Euro 2020 football tournament, a withering tweet read, “Real turkeys would have been more use.”

“Turkey” is also slang for an unsuccessful movie.

A recent article on Turkish public broadcaster TRT World said: “Type ‘Turkey’ into Google, and you will get 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 embassy websites in Ankara of Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand write Türkiye, while the UK, Irish and South African embassies use Turkey.

Picture credit: Flickr 

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