Turkey officially changes its name to 'Türkiye'

President Erdogan believes the switch better represents the country's values and culture

A Turkish flag is pictured on a boat with the Ortakoy Mosque in the background in Istanbul, 'Türkiye'. Reuters
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In a bid to rebrand the country, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has sent a letter to the UN formally requesting his country be referred to as “Türkiye”, the state-run news agency has reported.

The new name will help the country to dissociate its name from the bird, turkey, and some negative connotations associated with it.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, confirmed receipt of the letter late on Wednesday, said the Anadolu Agency.

The agency also quoted Mr Dujarric as saying that the name change had become effective “from the moment” the letter was received.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been pressing for the internationally recognised name “Turkey” to be changed to “Türkiye” (toor-kee-yeh) as it is spelt and pronounced in Turkish.

The country called itself Türkiye in 1923 after it declared independence.

In December, Mr Erdogan ordered the use of Türkiye to better represent Turkish culture and values, including demanding that “Made in Türkiye” be used on exported products. Turkish ministries also began using Türkiye in official documents.

Earlier this year, the government released a promotional video as part of 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 journalists sometimes slip and use the word “Turkey”.

TRT World explained the decision in an article, 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”.

“Flip through the Cambridge Dictionary and 'turkey' is defined as 'something that fails badly' or 'a stupid or silly person',” the network continued.

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”.

Updated: June 03, 2022, 7:44 AM