Sunday, 20 August 2017

Turkey to Ask EU to Recognise Rakiya as National Drink   
6 May 2009 | In its negotiations with the EU, Turkey will ask that rakiya, or brandy, receive the status of a “national drink,” national media reported recently.

In this way, CNN Türk reported last week, Turkey will be able to plead to European representatives that the excise tax on the alcoholic beverage be reduced by 50 per cent.

As a first step, a request was deposited with Turkey’s Patent Institute, which will be followed by a request to the European Commission for carrying out the necessary checks.

After Bulgaria joined the EU in January of 2007, the EU-imposed excise duty on home-made rakiya was a chief source of Bulgarian’s negative attitudes towards Europe. However, the problem has dies down since, as – after several unsuccessful attempt to have the tax reduced or cancelled, Bulgarians ceased to declare their production and thus stopped paying the mandatory tax.

In Romania, a similar excise duty was voted away by Parliament towards the end of 2008, allowing for the tax-free production of well-loved brandy.

And while it is unclear how Turkey’s efforts to have the excise tax decreased will pan out, its attempt to declare rakiya a national drink will surely be met with a lot of opposition in the region. Although Turkish rakı, which is usually anise-flavoured and turns cloudy white when mixed with water, differs from the kind enjoyed in the rest of the Balkans, which is made from distilled fruits - usually grapes or plums, rakiya is well-loved and considered as “a national drink” throughout the region.

And just like the Turks love their rakı, Greeks and Albanians love their raki, Bulgarians, Serbs and Macedonians love their rakiya and Romanians love their rachiu, each considering the drink as their own national one. They will surely be opposed to Turkey’s designation as the place of origin of rakiya, which would protect the drink’s competitiveness both within the EU and towards third countries, as has been the case with ouzo, which for years has been recognised by the EU as a Greek national drink.

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