ANKARA, March 1 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a new symbol for the Turkish lira on Thursday, but hit a barrage of criticism with the opposition complaining it looked like the symbol for the Armenian currency upside down, or an Ottoman sultan’s seal.
“Just like the dollar, euro and yen, the Turkish lira now has a symbol,” said Erdogan at an unveiling ceremony.
The symbol (pic.twitter.com/GIhT4M3L), chosen after a competition, is meant to bring together the letters T and L, and to be reminiscent of an anchor. The upward direction of the two cross lines to represent rising market value.
“This symbol shows our currency’s rising value as a safe haven,” Erdogan said.
But the main opposition party said it looked more the seal of an Ottoman sultan and the prime minister’s initials, T and E.
The central bank, said Republican People’s Party deputy leader Faik Oztrak, “has given the most beautiful present to the prime minister who at every opportunity displays the yearning to be a padishah.”
The leftist secular party often accuses Erdogan and his conservative AK Party of harbouring neo-Ottoman ambitions because of its attempts to project Turkey’s new-found economic and political power in the Middle East.
Others complained the new symbol more closely resembled the symbol for the Armenian dram, but upside down.
The subject of Armenia is a sensitive one in Turkey due to Armenian charges that Ottoman Turks carried out a genocide against their people during World War One. Turks reject the accusation and see it as an insult to their national dignity and pride.
Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, wrote Turkish nationalist lawmker Koray Aydin on twitter, “has taken the Armenia currency, the dram, and turned it upside down! The Turkish lira does not deserve such careless behaviour.” (Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)