The Wall Street Journal has a great story about the travails of the makers of Nosh, a beer whose name in means "cheers!" in Kurdish (and, interestingly, "to snack" in Yiddish).
Brewed in Romania to be marketed in Turkey (perhaps with the idea of appealing to Kurdish-minded tipplers), the beer has suddenly found itself locked out of the market after government officials cancelled Nosh's import license. From the WSJ's story:
Company CEO Nurettin Keske said he had already sunk $600,000 into producing almost 40,000 bottles of Kurdish-branded beer in Romania, and imported them to be distributed and sold to Turkish consumers. Although the permissions still existed in writing, Mr. Keske concluded it would have been too risky for him to make sales agreements with distributors.
“A representative from the ministry called me and said that all of the necessary permissions to import Nosh were cancelled. We had to either drink all the beer or dispose of it,” added Mr. Keske who opted to transport the bottles back to Romania on Tuesday after storing them in a depot in Istanbul for over two months.
The Ministry of Agriculture declined to comment on the case, saying that they could not verify whether permissions had been cancelled due to technical reasons. The representative added that it was “unlikely” that the ministry will respond later on the issue, either.
The curious case of Keske Gida comes as Turkey’s government has reached a crucial stage of a peace process aimed at providing greater autonomy and language rights for the country’s 15 million Kurds to end a three decade conflict which has claimed some 40,000 lives.
Some Kurdish businessmen called on the Agriculture Ministry to explain the reason for the alleged cancellation of permission to import, or risk the perception that there was discrimination against Kurdish language.
“This case is open for misunderstandings. The very first thought that occurred to me was that the cancellation has to do with a Kurdish name. Of course it could also have to do with regulating the import of alcohol, or something else, but the reason has to be clarified and the cancellation has to be in print,” said Sahismail Bedirhanoglu, chairman of the Southeastern Industrialist and Businessmen’s Association. “Turkish bureaucrats in Western Turkey may not be used to seeing Kurdish brand names,” he said.
Having a Kurdish-branded beer on store shelves would certainly have been a nice gesture at a time when there are renewed efforts to solve the decades-old Kurdish issue. Could Nosh's troubles be another sign that Turkey's faltering Kurdish peace process is truly on the rocks?