Turkish mayor under fire for welcoming tourists in Greek

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Edirne mayor Recep Gürkan

The mayor of Edirne, a province near Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria, has come under fire for conveying greetings for the new year in multilingual posters in which the city’s name was written in Greek as Adrianopolis, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Posters welcoming the new year in Turkish, Greek and Bulgarian were hung all over stores in Turkey’s northwestern province of Edirne, which has been attracting more tourists from the two neighboring countries in the last six months.

“We hope that 2019 will bring peace and happiness to the world,” Mayor Recep Gürkan was quoted as saying in one of the posters on the city’s central Saraçlar Avenue.

On social media, nationalists lashed out at Gürkan, who was described as “the mayor of Adrianopolis” in the Greek language posters.

“OK, it is a nice gesture. But our city’s name is written on the Bulgarian posters as Edirne, but it is Adrianopolis on the Greek posters. Mr. Mayor, this is not a Byzantine city. It was the capital of the Ottoman Empire for 88 years,” Veysel Güner, president of the Edirne July 15 Democratic Youth Association, told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Gürkan had not responded to his critics as of Friday morning.

The loss in value of the Turkish lira against the euro and US dollar — around 30 percent since the start of 2018 — has drawn a huge number of visitors from Greece and Bulgaria, according to Gürkan’s earlier statements.

A large number of people from Bulgaria and Greece have been taking buses on weekends to travel to the western Turkish province of Edirne for shopping since then.

In the face of the strong interest from neighboring countries, the city’s businesspeople have put price lists in Bulgarian and Greek on their shop windows. Even Bulgarian online shopping websites have been launched, and little “dictionaries” have been prepared to help potential Bulgarian and Greek customers.

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