Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ahead of the Curve?

Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Gunay in Van
PHOTO from Taraf

Hurriyet takes a look at recent initiatives by the Ministry of Culture, headed by Ertegrul Gunay. The story basically cites a litany of Ministry-led endeavors, ranging from restoring the citizenship of Nazim Hikmet to supporting the production of Kurdish-language plays. From Hurriyet:

Arguing the initiative process entails “the real institutionalization of Turkey’s democracy,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said: “First of all, this includes freedom of thought and expression and the self-enunciation of various cultures. We are determined to behave in a way that will eliminate all discrimination, break taboos and dismantle prohibitions. The importance of these endeavors will be understood in time. I believe many people in Turkey appreciate this new and remarkable reconciliation process.”

. . . .

“We will also carry out some other cultural projects that will make people see that different cultures can live together in peace and we should get used to it. We will organize cultural activities to support tolerance and peace in society. I hope these cultural activities will pave the way for the democratic initiative.”
Also included in the litany are Gunay's efforts to publish the work of Kurdish poet Ahmed-i Hani, funding for a film featuring Kurdish language, "İki Dil Bir Bavul," and religious ceremonies at churches that have in some cases not had ceremonies in 100 plus years. Gunay said periodic services could be had at former Christian sites with the permssion of the governor ofthe province where the site is located. I am not sure how this fits into the Culture of Ministry's domain, or what the details are (or, if it amounts to much more than political showmanship), but would hope to learn more.

In June, Gunay addressed Kurds in Hakarri, putting himself at the front of the government's recent Kurdish intiative, declaring then DTP leader Ahmet Turk, now facing criminal charges and a ban from politics, to be the most important person for peace in Turkey.

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