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A hot ’Turkey Season’ in France 3 juillet 2009

Posted by Acturca in Art-Culture, France, Turkey / Turquie.
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Hürriyet Daily News (Turkey), 03/07/2009

Gila Benmayor

The « Turkey Season » launched following a joint press conference by French and Turkish culture ministers in Paris last Tuesday has made a literally hot start. Both the weather and the atmosphere were extremely hot, and so was the attention French people paid to the event. You may say, « What’s the weather above 30 degrees Celsius in Paris got to do with ’Turkey Season?' »

Let me elaborate on it:

The interest in the press conference of ministers, which I attended together with a group of journalists from Turkey and which was held in the historic building of the French Culture Ministry, was so high that when more than 500 people were in the 150-person room, it was difficult to breathe. Right after the Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay and the newly appointed French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand’s speeches, people getting hot inside threw themselves out. So a small opening concert planned went up in smoke.

But the well-known Turkish clarinet virtuoso Hüsnü Şenlendirici came over from the United States just for the concert.

And he had brought famous saxophone player İlhan Erşahin and drum guru İzzet Kızıl as well. I ran across Şenlendirici while practicing. But the audience left the meeting due to the hot weather and the poor artists were forgotten. As for warm bilateral relations, the new culture minister of France, who was appointed by President Nicolas Sarkozy in replacement of Christine Albanel, is a media member and author. As a man of culture he is well known in Turkey. He had prepared a program titled « Istanbul 24 hours » for French channel TV5. So, Mitterrand in his speech was not hesitant to send warm messages to Turkey. The Turkey Season will continue in 77 cities for nine months. About 400 activities will be held in order to show Turkey’s modern and dynamic face, said Mitterrand.

For the Turkish side it is a good opportunity during the Turkey Season to have a French culture minister who is familiar with cinema producers such as Fatih Akın and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, renowned authors like Orhan Pamuk, Yaşar Kemal and Elif Şafak.

After the press conference, Turkish Ambassador to Paris Osman Korutürk hosted a party at the embassy residence in which a former French minister Jack Lang attended. That is another proof of the interest shown in Turkey Season. The Socialist Party representative Lang was one of the legendary culture ministers of France, just like author Andre Malraux.

Lang served as the minister for two terms and long years. He is a real intellectual having endless number of books, and among friends of Turkey in the European Union.

The Turkey Season that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan considered postponing in the last minute will reach large masses. Everyone believes that the activities will make tremendous contributions to attract the French public in favor of Turkey.

France allocated 12 million euros and Turkey earmarked 11 million euros for about 400 activities. For instance, two performances by Mercan Dede and the Anadolu Ateşi (Anatolian Fire) open to the public will take place in famous Trocadero Square in Paris.

Towards the midst of July, a Turkish Cafe will be opened at the Tuileries Garden of the Louvre Museum. Various dance performances in addition to traditional Turkish shadow theatre « Karagöz » and puppet shows will take place to introduce Turkish culture of cafes in the premise. In October a Turkish flag will fly at the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

Of course it is impossible to count all 400 activities here. But I can say that film festivals, gastronomy, documentary films as well as numerous activities and conferences for student exchange programs are among them.

No one should ever doubt if this activity had been canceled at the very last minute, Turkey would’ve become the party lost.


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