In a late-night decree published last week on Turkey’s Official Gazette, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Turkey should be referred to as “Türkiye," not "Turkey" or "Turquie," in an attempt to turn it into a brand. The move sparked widespread controversy on social media, reports Deutsche Welle Turkish.
“Türkiye” is the spelling of the country’s name in Turkish and has been the official brand of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism under the Justice and Development Party (AKP). It also denotes a kind of linguistic nationalism, insisting that Turkish be used to name the country even when speaking about it in other languages, like English or French.
In the midnight circular entitled “The Use of the Expression of 'Türkiye' as a Brand,” the government instructed to label goods made in the country as “Made in Türkiye.” Some brands have already been doing this for some time. They further told people to use “necessary sensitivity” to use “Türkiye” in all relevant “activities” and “correspondence.”
In the midst of widespread economic and political crisis, and as the opposition ramps up its campaign ahead of the planned 2023 elections, this move was seen by many on social media as a symbolic distraction. Ata Benli, a popular social media personality, joked that the move would bring the lira back down to 5 to the dollar (it currently stands above 13.7).
“And with the circular published in the Official Gazette, Made in Türkiye will now be written instead of Turkey! Alhamdullilah the Dollar will be five Lira in the morning,” he wrote, sharing an image of the circular.
Others joked that it was the only move by the president in recent weeks that would not have an effect on the exchange rate to indicate its inefficacy as a decree.
Volker Pabst, the Turkish representative of the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, shared the decree on Twitter.
“For once, a Presidential Decree that will have no effect on the exchange rate,” he said on Twitter.
Some supporters of the president, including ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Nevzat Şatıroğlu, expressed support for the move and for the Made in Türkiye brand.
“In the circular bearing the signature of our President, Mr. @RTErdogan, it has been decided that Türkiye will be used instead of Turkey in interstate correspondence and in all international activities,” he wrote on Twitter, “Thank you, Mr. President!”