Turkish has become an official language of the European Union. It is now the 25th official language of the European Union. By implication this would mean that all public EU reports and documentation now need to be translated into Turkish. The breakthrough has little to do with recent headline events but was, in fact, prompted by the efforts of Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, who has been lobbying for the language to be recognised. This has been seen as a crucial step to build bridges between Cyprus (and the EU) and Turkey.
Cyprus is an EU member state and has both Turkish and Greek as its official languages. The Turkish half of the island isn’t actually part of the EU but Turkish Cypriots are considered EU citizens. The Cyprus dispute between Greece and Turkey is one of the longest on-going disputes in recent modern history however the latest move may signal an attempt at further progress and potentially unity as well.
Recent talks and agreements between the European Union and Turkey have focussed on the burgeoning migrant crisis and a “migrant swapping” deal. Furthermore, Turkey has had on-going ambitions to join the EU and this chapter has been reopened in light of Turkey’s importance. However, neither of these events were the inspiration for this call.
In the European Parliament, the report was passed by 375 votes to 133, with 87 abstentions.
In the UK, the recent news to add Turkish as an official language of the EU has been portrayed negatively by the anti-EU press who see this as a first step towards Turkey’s inevitable accession with nightmare scenarios such as further migrants to the UK and further Islamification of the EU. In fact the move is more a technical formality and one should also bear in mind that Turkish speakers are already large minority in many EU countries such as Germany and the Netherlands and the language is even recognised as a minority language in two EU states, Romania and Greece, and an official language in one EU state, Cyprus.
Turkey is also a key trading partner of the EU and the Turkish language will be an increasingly important language for business and trade over the next twenty years. In fact, The Languages Report, commissioned by the British Council, ranked the Turkish language now as one of the top ten most strategically important languages for the United Kingdom, on a par with Russian.
Now that the Turkish language has the status of an official EU language, this will hopefully boost awareness of the language and encourage its uptake. Learners will discover a fascinating and rich language which could potentially open new business or career opportunities.
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