The approval by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) of the term ‘Turkaegean’ to be used as a trademark by Turkey for its tourism campaigns sparked an angered reaction in Greece this week, with academics and politicians saying it is one more move by its neighbor to dispute Greece’s territorial rights.
Turkey applied to the EUIPO for the use of the said term in July 2021. The EU office approved the application in December last year. According to Greek daily Naftemporiki, it also applied with the US trademark office, which however turned it down.
Under the decision, Turkey will be able to use the term ‘Turkaegean’ in all its advertising campaigns including for TV, radio, online, for tourism accommodation and car rentals, and for dozens of other listed services through to July 16, 2031.
The issue was first brought to the press a month ago with the launch of Turkey’s “Turkeagean Coast of Happiness” campaign by Greek language professor Georgios Babiniotis, who described the EU decision as an “international disgrace”.
The professor explained then that the term “Ege”, which is Ancient Greek refers to the Aegean Sea and that in the 16th and 17th centuries the Turks called it the “Sea of the Greeks”.
Babiniotis and other Greek academics and politicians see the move as one more “dangerous” antic by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is hoping through the change of terms – such as describing the Mediterranean as the ‘blue sea’ and the Aegean as ‘Turkeaegean’ – to lay territorial claims.
A month ago, there was no official reaction from the Greek tourism or foreign ministry to the issue.
Greece will take legal action
Commenting on the decision today, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the Greek government would be taking legal action against the procedure and decision. Kikilias said that travelers from Turkey have “filled the Greek islands… Lesvos, Kos, Chios and Samos, and they vote for Greece”, adding that perhaps political leaders should rethink their actions.
At the same time, on Tuesday, Greek Government Spokesperson Yiannis Economou confirmed that Greece would be taking legal action, adding that “the EU did not approve” of the trademark but an office that secures industrial property, trademarks, etc.
Economou added that an investigation is underway and that Greece was prepared for any scenario and would be bringing the issue up at today’s NATO Summit as well as at international fora.
EUIPO is funded by EU member states and its board consists of one representative from each country, two from the Commission and one from the European Parliament.
This week however, former foreign minister Georgios Katrougalos said via his twitter account that the EU decision was “unacceptable” particularly at this point in time when Turkey is displaying ongoing aggression towards Greece.
“Under conditions of extreme challenges to our sovereignty in the Aegean, the turkaegean brand is aggressive and it is unacceptable that the EU approved it. The government must justify its actions or omissions,” he tweeted.
Υπό συνθήκες ακραίας αμφισβήτησης της κυριαρχίας μας στο Αιγαίο το εμπορικό σήμα turkaegean είναι επιθετικό κ απαράδεκτο ότι έγινε αποδεκτό από την ΕΕ.
Η κυβέρνηση οφείλει εξηγήσεις για τις ενέργειες ή παραλείψεις της. https://t.co/nqWuI09heG?
— George Katrougalos (@gkatr) June 27, 2022
It is reminded that for the past few years, the EU has repeatedly said but failed to impose sanctions on Turkey for its repeated unlawful and aggressive actions against Greece and Cyprus, including re-opening and re-settling the formerly invaded, abandoned and currently military-controlled Varosha on the anniversary of 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus last July, the conversion of the Greek Orthodox church and museum of Hagia Sophia – an UNESCO World Heritage site – into a mosque without formal approval, not keeping to its part of the EU migrant deal, and regular air space violations.