Why did Turkey change its name?

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Turkey is tired of being associated with the turkey, known as the symbol of the American Thanksgiving holiday, with its English name turkey.

On Thursday, the United Nations acknowledged changing the country’s name to Turkey, announced /tur-qui-ye/, in a decision by the foreign minister. Mouloud Cavusoglu He said it would “increase the brand value” of the country.

“The main reason why Turkey changed its name is to remove the association with the bird,” said Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based think tank EDAM. “But also, the term is used in slang to refer to failure.”

For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will run for re-election next year, new name It expresses “the culture, civilization and values ​​of the Turkish nation in the best way”.

Ulgen told CNN that international organizations are now required to use the new name, but that it won’t happen overnight for the general public. “It will likely take many years for the international audience to move from Turkey to Turkey.”

He said it was not the first time the nation had tried to change its name. He said that a similar attempt was made in the mid-1980s under Prime Minister Turgut Özal, but it never succeeded.

The move is likely politically motivated, as Turks will return to the polls next June in the midst of a severe economic crisis.

It is “another strategy the Turkish government has put in place to reach nationalist voters in a crucial year for Turkish politics,” said Francesco Sicardi, director of programs at the Carnegie Europe think-tank.

He said the timing of the name change was “crucial” for next year’s elections. He added that the decision to change the name was announced last December when President Erdogan was losing in all opinion polls and the country was going through one of the worst economic crises in the past twenty years.

Erdogan’s position in the polls has fallen significantly over the years. Opinion polls late last year show support for the ruling Justice and Development Party at between 31 and 33 percent, according to Reuters, up from 42.6 percent in the 2018 parliamentary elections.

However, Ulgen said the name change was a rebranding strategy to boost the country’s international standing rather than a pre-election stunt.

Turkey’s foreign trade deficit rose 98.5% year-on-year to $6.11 billion in April, Reuters reported, citing the Turkish Statistical Institute. Annual inflation jumped to 73.5% last month, the highest level in 22 years.

Analysts say that in times of crisis, the president tends to resort to populist measures to distract from domestic problems. The economic turmoil, which had already sparked the protests, was a nuisance to the government.

“The new name will distract the local public from more concrete and urgent problems and will provide President Erdogan with another argument to defend a stronger and more traditional Turkey,” Sicardi said.

In another populist movement in 2020, Erdogan decreed the conversion of the Byzantine Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque.

“In the absence of concrete policies to deal with the country’s economic and political problems, Erdogan is seeking salvation in populist identity politics,” political analyst Serin Korkmaz wrote of the move at the time.

It promotes Turkish nationalism and Islamism and attacks opposition figures.

The new name also has symbolic value, as it was adopted in 1923 after the new nation emerged from the ashes of World War I. Its worldwide adoption, Sicardi said, would “reinforce Erdogan’s position in Turkish history along with the republic’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.”

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