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Canada to use traditional spelling of 'Turkiye' following UN move

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center right, shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, during a round table meeting at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center right, shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, during a round table meeting at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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The Canadian government has quietly changed the name of Turkey to the official Turkish spelling Turkiye in all official communications.

The move follows a request by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government for the international community to recognize the authentic spelling of his country's name.

Last month Ankara asked the United Nations to ditch the commonly-used spelling of Turkey, which is also associated with the edible bird and traditional Christmas dish.

In December last year, Erdogan ordered that "Made in Turkiye" be used on exported products to more authentically reflect the country's culture.

In communications from the Global Affairs department this week, Ottawa reverted to the authentic spelling, which is pronounced the same way.

The move followed an "official notification of name change to the United Nations and subsequently, to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada" in June, Global Affairs said.

"Canada respects the wishes of the Republic of Turkiye (formerly the Republic of Turkey) to be formally known as Turkiye as opposed to "Turkey" in English and "Turquie" in French," said Sabrina Williams, a Global Affairs spokeswoman.

The country was called Turkiye in 1923 after the newly formed Republic proclaimed its independence, with Mustafa Kemal as its first president.

Professor Chris Cochrane of the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs said it was becoming more common in diplomatic circles to revert to the authentic spelling and pronunciation of place names.

He cited the widespread change of the spelling and pronunciation of Ukraine's capital of Kyiv as a recent example.

"It would certainly be diplomatic in formal circles to pronounce a country's name in the way the country requests. It suggests a more equal relationship," Cochrane said. "It does seem to be a trend -- being somewhat more explicit about language in terms of what it conveys, politically."

Turkey has been increasingly flexing its muscles on the international stage including over the proposed accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.

Erdogan has threatened to veto the entry of the Nordic nations to the military alliance if they do not extradite suspects with links to outlawed Kurdish groups.

Earlier this week, Canada became the first country to ratify Finland and Sweden's request to join NATO.

But all 30 members must approve their bid for membership which followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2022.

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