Greece orders investigation into Turkey’s ‘Turkegean’ trademark claim

Almost six months after the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) approved the use of the term “Turkegean” as a trademark by Turkey for its tourism campaigns, the Greek Minister of Development and Investments Adonis Georgiadis ordered one investigation into the matter following a local outcry.

Specifically, Georgiadis ordered an investigation and possible liability for negligence on the part of employees of the Greek Trademark Office under the General Secretariat of Commerce.

Adonis Georgiadis, Greek Minister for Development and Investments.  Photo credit: @AdonisGeorgiadi

Adonis Georgiadis, Greek Minister for Development and Investments. Photo credit: @AdonisGeorgiadi

Sotiris AnagnostopoulosSecretary General for Commerce and Consumer Protection at the Ministry of Development and Investment, also ordered investigations into the action taken (or lacking) on ​​the matter by other local and international trademark offices.

Greece caught off guard

The move comes after academics and opposition politicians in Greece, including the former foreign minister Georgios Katrougalosbrought the issue to the fore by emphasizing that Turkey aimed through the campaign to also make territorial claims.

It should be noted that Turkey has requested the EUIPO to use the said term in July 2021. The EU office approved the request in December last year. According to the decision, Turkey will be able to use the term “Turkish” in all its advertising campaigns including for television, radio, online, for tourist accommodation and car rental, and for dozens of other services listed through July 16, 2031.

The issue first came to the press a month ago with the launch of Turkey’s “Turkish Coast of Happiness” campaign by the local press and a Greek language teacher. Georgios Babiniotiswho called the EU’s decision an “international disgrace”.

Turkey’s promotional video, which was first released in November 2021 by the Turkish daily Hurryet, features summer images complete with Greek antiquities accompanied by bouzouki music. In an interview, the Turkish Deputy Minister of Tourism Nadir Alpaslan said the aim of the campaign was to show the world that the Aegean Sea is also part of Turkey.

In response to protests in Greece, the Ministry of Development and Investments issued a statement on Wednesday noting that no information had ever been provided on the case “to the ministry, departments or authorities concerned by the responsible employees working for the national trademark office and EUIPO representative “in order to take timely and appropriate political, diplomatic and official action”.

Greek government spokesman Yiannis Economou

Greek government spokesman Yiannis Economou

On Tuesday, the government spokesman Yiannis Economou said Greece would challenge the decision to use the term ‘Turkegean’, adding that the issue was ‘not a political issue, but was undoubtedly an unfair trade practice which will be challenged and there will be an appeal from the government Greek side,” adding that an investigation into the matter had been ordered.

According to the Greek daily Naftemporikithere was no objections brought to the decision of December 15, 2021.

Greece appeals to the Commission for a “Turkegian” mandate

Meanwhile, the issue has caused a political stir, with opposition parties accusing the government of carelessness and slow reflexeswhile tabling a relevant question in parliament.

“This development affects the country’s reputation internationally while undermining the prospects for Greek tourism and the course of the Greek economy in an extremely difficult context. At the same time, given the current situation of Greek-Turkish relations, this development complicates relations between the two countries and geopolitically degrades Greece,” the question reads.

Meanwhile, the MEP of the European Parliament Elissavet Vozemberg posed an urgent question to the European Commission regarding Turkey’s “Turkegean” campaign, which it says is employing unfair tactics. Vozemberg asked the Commission to define the actions and measures to be taken through the European Union Copyright Office to immediately ban the use and circulation of the term, which lacks historical validity and harms to the Greek tourist product.

Elissavet Vozemberg, MEP in the European Parliament.  Image source: @vozemberg

Elissavet Vozemberg, MEP in the European Parliament. Image source: @vozemberg

Once again, the Turkish decision is one of many taken in recent years despite the fact that the EU has repeatedly repeated but failed to impose sanctions on Turkey for its repeated illegal and aggressive actions. against Greece and Cyprus, including the reopening and resettlement of former invaders, Varosha abandoned and currently controlled by the army on the anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 last July, the conversion of the Greek Orthodox church and museum of Hagia Sophia – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – into a mosque without formal approval, failing to uphold its part of the EU migrant accord and regular violations of the airspace.

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