Guardian: ‘TurkAegean’ tourism campaign sparks angry backlash in Athens

Guardian: ‘TurkAegean’ tourism campaign sparks angry backlash in Athens

“Some people … quite simply, did not do their job well,” said the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the specific issue

Turkey’s attempt to attract tourists with its “TurkAegean” advertising campaign – set against the backdrop of historical Greek monuments and the sound of the bouzouki – has caused anger and confusion in Athens, the British newspaper “Guardian” writes in an article.

With its western shores stretching into the Aegean, Turkey says it is time to “stop linking the region exclusively to Greece”. Last December it filed a request with the EU’s intellectual property office to register the term “TurkAegean”.

The approval of the application, which was made public last week, took Greek politicians by surprise. “Some people … quite simply, did not do their job well,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Amid cries of usurpation of their culture, Greek officials counterattacked. “Obviously the government will exhaust every legal option to deal with this development,” Mr Mitsotakis told what he described as stunned journalists at the end of the NATO Summit in Madrid last week.

With its ancient Greek name derived from Aegeus, the father of the mythical king Theseus who founded Athens, the Aegean’s Greek heritage is rarely disputed, even though the two countries have long disputed territorial sovereignty over the sea.

As Turkish claims grow in the region, Greece’s top EU official, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, called for a review of the decision. In a letter to Thierry Breton, Mr Schinas accused the EU agency of not properly publicizing Ankara’s request to use the term in the tourism campaign.

The “TurkAegean” slogan, which dominates the advertising of what Turkey has also called the “coastline of happiness”, has in recent days been deployed with ferocity, further angering the Greeks.

“The Turkish Aegean is one of the most exquisite areas that Turkey has to offer,” the country’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told the Financial Times, referring to an area of ​​ruins that include ancient Troy and port city of Ephesus, which was once considered by the Greeks as the most important commercial center of the Mediterranean. “It has coastlines with clear blue waters, numerous historical monuments dating back to the second century BC. and idyllic beaches to enjoy the shining sun”.

Some point out what TurkAegean makes obvious. Namely, the fact that from stunning coastlines to music and food, the two countries have more in common than they’d like to believe.

Most worrying, according to the Guardian article, is that communication through the diplomatic channel has almost collapsed. By Friday, hopes of a de-escalation in the wake of the NATO summit in Madrid had dwindled dramatically after the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reiterated that he would not meet Mitsotakis until he “comes to his senses”. In May, Erdogan announced he would cut ties with Mitsotakis after the Greek leader called on Washington not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a speech before the US Congress.

Ankara has accused Athens of deliberately militarizing islands near the Turkish coast, in violation of international treaties. In a move that raised further concerns among EU diplomats, it came as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned last month that Turkey would challenge the status of Greece’s eastern islands if troops were not withdrawn.

Athens argues it has the right to defend itself on its territory, pointing to repeated air violations by Turkish warplanes and Ankara’s long-standing threat of war if territorial waters are expanded. Erdogan has repeatedly invoked the 1919-22 Greco-Turkish war, which ended in military defeat for Athens, saying that, 100 years on, Greece should not defy a struggle it would “regret” again.

Greek politicians said Ankara’s campaign should be seen in the context of the embattled Turkish president’s strategy ahead of the 2023 election.

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