Greece lashes out over EU backing for ‘Turkaegean’ slogan

EuroActiv Politico News

ATHENS — A new row is brewing between Athens and Ankara over the EU granting trademark approval to the term “Turkaegean” for Turkish tourism campaigns.

The slogan, initially registered by the EU’s Intellectual Property Office in December 2021, has triggered a belated backlash from top Greek politicians.

Greece’s European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas sent a strongly worded letter to Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, demanding a review of the decision, according to Greek media reports Thursday.

Territorial sovereignty within the Aegean Sea has been a contentious issue between Greece and Turkey, whose summer economies rely heavily on an influx of tourists from around Europe to the Aegean’s sandy beaches and azure waters.

Wider tensions have escalated in recent months between Athens and Ankara, which have long been at odds over a number of other bilateral disputes, including maritime boundaries and overlapping claims to their continental shelves.

In his letter to Breton, first reported by Greek state news agency ANA, Schinas expressed his disappointment 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.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis looks on after a service at the Patriarchal Church of St George in Istanbul | Yasin Akgul/AFP via Getty Images

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.”

In Madrid on Thursday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos 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.”

Greek Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis apologized Thursday for his ministry’s failure to react, said he wasn’t aware about Turkey’s request and ordered an investigation.

Turkey has already launched a “Turkeagean Coast of Happiness” tourism campaign.