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Is Turkish The EU's Latest Official Language?

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades

Scores of Turkish columnists and folks on Facebook and Twitter went into celebration mode when they heard that the European Parliament had voted for Turkish to become the European Union's 25th "official language."

Actually, they heard it from a report in the London-based tabloid Daily Express that harshly criticized the vote: "Fury As Turkish Made 'An Official EU Language' Before ANY Voters Support Membership," the Express headline read.

MEPs voted 375-133 in support of the initiative.

The first thing to guess was that it was all thanks to Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to get this prominence for the Turkish language. Wrong. The credit goes to the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, who initiated the vote on the eve of reunification talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Reportedly, the talks are "very serious" this time around and Turkish Cypriots are eager to distance themselves from Turkey for the price of becoming part of a united, European Cyprus.

Screenshot from
Screenshot from

That's not all. In their excitement, many people forgot that this is not a decision but just a "call" by the European Parliament on the EU's 28 member states to recognize Turkish as an official language of the EU.

Cyprus broke up in 1974 following a Turkish invasion that followed a coup by nationalist Greek officers. Since then, Cyprus has been divided between the Republic of Cyprus that later joined the EU and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey.

The European Parliament cannot make a binding decision on this issue. The member states can adopt the initiative, individually, or the European Commission can apply any decision of this kind at the EU level -- but that would need unanimity among all member states.

In short: a nice gesture for Turkish Cypriots and even for Turkey herself.

But it needs time, if it succeeds at all.

About This Blog

Turkey Notebook is a blog written by Abbas Djavadi, regional director of programming at RFE/RL and a longtime Turkey specialist. The blog presents Djavadi’s personal take on events and is designed for Turkey-watchers and all who want to get the most relevant news, views, issues, and insights on the country that you might not find in the daily news stream. Also check out Turkey Notebook on Facebook or Twitter.