ATHENS – Too late to do anything about it – Turkey ambushing Greece with a new tourism campaign – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his government would still fight European Union approval of the term “Turkaegean.”
That’s being used by Turkey during a time when the countries are quarreling over sovereignty of the sea between them and trying to lure more tourists to offset the affects of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
At a NATO meeting in Madrid where Turkey was on the table – now legally called Turkiye, the name not widely in use – Mitsotakis said: “We have a legal arsenal at our disposal to correct what has happened, which concerns the country’s tourist image, which concerns our tourist product.”
The embarrassing event saw Turkey get approval from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in December, 2021, blindsiding an unaware Greek government which just now found out about it.
Greek Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis apologized for his ministry’s failure to react, said he wasn’t aware about Turkey’s request and ordered an investigation to find someone else to blame.
It comes as the summer tourism season is swinging into high gear and Turkey already benefiting from getting Russian tourists after refusing to go along with EU sanctions barring Russian airlines for the invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey has already launched a “Turkeagean Coast of Happiness” tourism campaign, noted POLITICO in a piece about the brouhaha that has dragged in
European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas – from Greece’s ruling New Democracy.
Responsible for promoting the European Way of life – Turkey has been trying to join the EU since 2005 – he sent a sharply worded letter to a colleague, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, demanding a review of the decision, Greek media said.
Schinas was so upset he appeared to go beyond his mandate to be impartial and complained that the EU should have taken political reasons into consideration for Greece, a member, not favor Turkey.
In the letter, first reported by Greece’ state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA, Schinas said he was bitterly disappointed that, “EUIPO’s internal controls and procedures have not proved sufficient to identify and notify a case with obvious and potentially serious implications for the external relations of the EU, the sovereign rights of an EU member state — Greece — but also for the protection of consumers and the EU tourism sector.”
He added that the case marked a “clear failure at the administrative level to adequately assess the political and legal dimensions of such a decision,” but didn’t explain why neither Breton or other EU officials with whom he is in frequent conduct – and aware of tensions with Greece – didn’t give him a heads-up.
Greece and Turkey are sparring for control of the Aegean and East Mediterranean and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has openly admitted coveting return of some Aegean islands ceded to Greece under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t recognize unless citing to his advantage.
While the battle is political – and threatens to draw in the militaries at times – it’s also over how to convince people to come to each other’s country, ad campaigns showing sandy beaches and summer destinations.
Turkish Deputy Tourism Minister Nadir Alpaslan said in an interview back in November with POLITICO that Greece “has made the world perceive the Aegean as its own region.
“We will do this even more strongly next year and show that the Aegean is not a region of Greece, but also a region of Turkey, a tourism brand,” he said, the Turkaegean trademark approved until 2031.