The United Nations granting Turkey’s request to change its name to “Türkiye” as it is spelled and pronounced in Turkish on Thursday will now require international organisations to use the new name.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan believes the new name expresses the culture and values of the Turkish people in the best way, while analyst Sinan Ülgen told CNN that it would also distance the country from the former name’s colloquial association with “failure”.
For the broader public, it would “likely take many years” to make the switch, CNN’s Mohammed Abdelbary cited Ülgen as saying.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the change would increase the country’s “brand value”. Carnegie Europe’s Francesco Siccardi told CNN that the shift could be understood as another government outreach to nationalist voters ahead of the crucial 2023 elections.
“The decision on the name change was announced last December, when President Erdogan was trailing in all opinion polls and the country was navigating one of the worst economic crises of the last 20 years,” Siccardi told CNN.
According to the analyst, the name Türkiye would be an additional argument for a stronger, more traditional country for the president. Türkiye is also the name the fledgling nation adopted in 1923, when the republic was officially founded, leaving the Ottoman Empire behind completely. Bringing the name back into the spotlight would “cement Erdogan’s place in Turkish history next to the republic’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk”, Siccardi said.
The rebranding is not the first time the president has taken a populist step at a time of crisis, Abdelbary said, pointing to the millennia-old Byzantine cathedral Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque in 2020.
“In the absence of concrete policies to handle the country’s economic and political problems, Erdogan seeks salvation in populist identity politics,” Abdelbary cited political analyst Seren Korkmaz as saying about the conversion.
A similar move towards tradition was Erdoğan’s push to replace red carpets and other uses of the colour with the colour turquoise, starting with ceremonial soldiers’ uniforms and carpets in official buildings in 2013.
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