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Ice between Turkey, France to melt during ‘Season of Turkey’ 10 avril 2009

Posted by Acturca in Art-Culture, France, Turkey / Turquie.
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Todays Zaman (Turkey), 10 April 2009

Ali Pektas, Istanbul

Turkey’s relations with France, which opposes its accession to the European Union, have sustained significant damage in recent days — but an important opportunity lies ahead for both countries, a chance to repair and develop bilateral relations. This opportunity is the nine-month “Season of Turkey in France,” set to run from July 1, 2009, until March 31, 2010.

Turkey will be the subject of over 400 events held in France during the nine-month period, displaying Turkish contributions to a variety of disciplines within the fields of art and culture. The season will also bring Turkish firms to the fore alongside cultural programs. President Abdullah Gül will participate jointly with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the opening of a major exhibition in October.

Görgün Taner, the event’s Turkish commissioner and head of the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (İKSV), said the season of Turkish culture was very important in terms of both Turkey expressing itself to the French public and in terms of France being receptive and understanding to what Turkey has to say. He said the Season of Turkey had the potential to eliminate many of the stumbling blocks in the way of Turkey’s EU accession.

Turkey in all its colors, in France

The nine-month Season of Turkey in France will take place under the supervision of a joint organizational committee that includes representatives of the Turkish and French ministries of culture and foreign affairs. Around 400 events are set to take place as part of the season, which has been in development since February 2008. Taner said the events were sure to display Turkey in all her glory. “We aim to reflect all of the veins of life in Turkey’s societal dynamism, energy and diversity. What is important is that we represent ourselves correctly, breaking prejudices and making it easier for Turkey to be approached in a more objective light,” he said.

In France in particular, doubt remains as to what Turkey could contribute to the EU, and through this event, the administrators plan to underline what Turkey has to offer culturally speaking, Taner said. He added that as part of the cultural season, members of the press would visit a number of Turkish provinces, and in addition, a great deal of economic activity would be sparked between the two countries.

Gül, Sarkozy to meet

Among the most important components of the season is that it will bring the Turkish and French presidents together. The Turkish president threw his support behind the project early on and will hold a meeting with businessmen about the project’s development tomorrow. On Oct. 8, Gül and Sarkozy — infamous for his opposition to Turkish membership in the EU — are set to meet for the opening of an exhibition themed around İstanbul at Paris’ famed Grand Palais.

The Armenian diaspora community hasn’t posed any opposition to the project and is, to the contrary, supporting it. In the cities of Marseille and Lyon, where many people of Armenian descent live, municipal administrations have provided a significant amount of support and aid to planning efforts. Taner evaluates this aid positively, opining that the Turkish president’s trip to Armenia last year played a part in swaying public opinion to make this support possible.

Very important events

Major events that will highlight Turkish culture include performances by Mercan Dede and the Anadolu Ateşi (Fire of Anatolia) dance company in Paris’ famous Trocadéro Square, an event featuring the architectural design of Han Tümertekin at the Tuileries Gardens attached to the Louvre Museum, an exhibition on İstanbul at the Grand Palais and illumination of the Eiffel Tower with Turkey’s national colors. The Louvre will also host a traveling exhibition on loan from the Topkapı Palace Museum, and an array of other exhibitions of photography and other kinds of art and classical Turkish music performances will also dot the calendar of the Season of Turkey in France.


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