Turkey has drawn anger and embarrassment in Athens by attracting tourists with its “TurkAegean” promotion against the backdrop of Greek historical sites and the sound of the bouzouki.
Turkey’s west coast, which straddles the Aegean Sea, said it was time to stop tying the region entirely to Greece. In December last year, it filed an application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office to register a trademark for the term TurkAegean.
The approval of the application, announced last week, caught Greek politicians by surprise. “Some people … are simply not doing their jobs well,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Amid cries of their culture being usurped, Greek officials went on the offensive. “Obviously, the government will use every legitimate possibility to deal with this development,” Mitsotakis told shocked reporters at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid last week.
The Aegean’s ancient Greek name comes from Aegeus, father of the Greek mythological king Theseus, who founded Athens, so the Aegean’s Greek heritage is rarely disputed — even if the two NATO rivals have long been The dispute over maritime territorial sovereignty has been ongoing since then.
As Turkey’s claims in the region mount, Greece’s top EU official, European Commission Vice-President Margaritas Sinas, has called for a review of the decision. In a succinctly worded letter to his counterpart in charge of the internal market, Thierry Breton, Sinas denounced EU institutions for failing to properly publicize Ankara’s plea to use the term in tourism activities.
The slogan of the Turkish Aegean Sea, which Turkey also dubs the “Happy Shoreline”, has dominated the ad, which has been rolled out in revenge in recent days, further angering the Greeks.
“The Turkish Aegean is one of the most exquisite regions the Turks have to offer,” the country’s culture and tourism minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told the Financial Times, referring to a site that includes ancient Troy and the port city of Ephesus , once regarded by the Greeks as the most important trading center in the Mediterranean.
“It has a coastline surrounded by clear blue waters, numerous historical sites dating back to the second century BC, and idyllic beaches where you can soak up the sun.”
Advocates of harmony point to what TurkAegean has shown: From spectacular coastlines to music and food, the two countries have more in common than they thought.
But the movement has also been accompanied by growing tensions between historic foes over claims in the Aegean Sea, mineral exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and war-torn Cyprus. More worryingly, communication through diplomatic channels has all but been disrupted. By Friday, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated that he will not meet Mitsotakis until he “gets it together”, after a NATO summit in Madrid Hopes of detente have waned sharply. 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 in a speech to the U.S. Congress.
Ankara accuses Athens of violating international treaties by deliberately militarizing islands off the coast of Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned last month that Turkey would challenge the status of Greece’s eastern island if it did not withdraw, a move that raised further concerns among EU diplomats in Athens.
Athens has argued that it has the right to defend itself on its territory, citing repeated aerial incursions by Turkish fighter jets and the persistent threat of war in Ankara as its territorial waters expand. Erdogan has repeatedly cited the Greek-Turkish war of 1919-22, which ended in a military defeat in Athens, saying that 100 years later, Greece should not be excited about a battle it will “regret” again.
Greek politicians say Ankara’s Turkish Aegean movement must be viewed in the context of the strategy being pursued by the troubled Turkish president ahead of elections in 2023.
Former foreign minister and left-wing Syriza MP George Catrougalos said: “This is not just an innocent advertisement, but another being used to finally question our sovereignty over the Greek islands in the Aegean and our role in the maritime economic zone. the right argument.” “If they just said they had a coastline in the Aegean, then of course they would be geographically correct. But the word implies, as a corollary of their propaganda, that all or most of the Aegean is Turks , which is clearly wrong.”
With Greece also facing the prospect of general elections as early as September, analysts have not ruled out the possibility that tensions could escalate into a military conflict, intentionally or unintentionally.
“Turkey’s territorial claims in the Aegean Sea have undergone a very radical, almost apocalyptic escalation,” said Konstantinos Phyllis, a professor of international relations at the Greek American College. “It’s like Turkey is preparing the future for an international audience. things that could happen.”