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Turkey asks United Nations to officially refer to it as 'Türkiye'

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By Joshua Askew  with AP
A man stands with a national flag as thousands of people visit the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, Thursday, May 19, 2022.
A man stands with a national flag as thousands of people visit the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, Thursday, May 19, 2022.   -   Copyright  Burhan Ozbilici/AP

The Turkish government has asked the United Nations (UN) to refer to its country as 'Türkiye' (tur-key-YAY), as it is spelt and pronounced in Turkish.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sent a letter to the UN formally requesting the name change on Wednesday, according to the state-run news outlet Anadolu Agency. 

The move is seen as part of a push by Ankara to rebrand the country, avoid associations with the bird called turkey, and dispel some of the negative associations. 

Last December President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered that 'Türkiye' be used in official texts as it better reflected "Turkish culture and values". 

He mandated that 'Made in Türkiye' replace 'Made in Turkey' on goods exported from the country, alongside the use of 'Türkiye' in documents at the ministries. 

The news agency Anadolu said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, confirmed the letter had been received on Wednesday evening. 

The agency quoted Dujarric as saying that the name change had become effective “from the moment” the letter was received.

Turkey called itself 'Türkiye' in 1923 after its declaration of independence.

The country's English-language state broadcaster TRT World has officially switched to using 'Türkiye', although the word 'Turkey' occasionally slips in from presenters who are still not used to the change.

TRT World explained the decision in an article earlier this year, saying Googling 'Turkey' brings up an “a muddled set of images, articles, and dictionary definitions that conflate the country with Meleagris – otherwise known as the turkey, a large bird native to North America – which is famous for being served on Christmas menus or at Thanksgiving dinners.”

“Flip through the Cambridge Dictionary and “turkey” is defined as “something that fails badly” or “a stupid or silly person,” the network added. 

TRT World argued that Turks prefer their country to be called “Türkiye”, in “keeping with the country’s aims of determining how others should identify it.”

Earlier in 2022, the Turkish government released a promotional video as part of its attempt to change its English name. 

The video shows tourists from across the world saying “Hello Türkiye” at famous destinations inside the country.

The Turkish presidency's Directorate of Communications said it launched the campaign “to promote more effectively the use of ‘Türkiye’ as the country’s national and international name on international platforms.”