Written by Şeref Ateş

2019 is a very important date and anniversary for Turkey. Exactly 100 years ago, that is, in 1919, Turkey fought for its independence. President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, spoke at the Centenary Celebrations, saying, “Today, on 19 May, starting in Samsun, we are initiating a series of centenary events that will last until 29 October 2023, the centenary of the founding of our Republic”. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “This year we will start by landing in Samsun on 19 May, which will be followed by celebrations of the Amasya Circular on 22 June, the Erzurum Congress on 23 July, and the Sivas Congress on 4 September; we will do our reckoning, and refresh our targets together”.

I would like to take this opportunity to mention Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the great name of the National Struggle and founder of the Republic of Turkey, and all of our other heroes, on this centenary. The first six months of 2019 have been very busy. In fact, very special and important activities have been carried out to introduce the rich Turkish cuisine to the world. Gökmen Sözen, the organiser of Gastromasa that hosted world-famous chefs, prepared a special programme for international chefs within the scope of the 2019 Göbeklitepe year.

Gökmen Sözen brought chefs and gastronomy authors together in Gaziantep at a special programme entitled “Gastroway”. You can read the interview with Gökmen Sözen to find out about this programme that was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, work carried out on Turkish cuisine, and observations on Turkey made by world-famous chefs. In the meanwhile, I must say that the Yunus Emre Institute has been assuming an active role in introducing Turkish cuisine in various countries of the world, and in organising various programmes.

Prof. Dr. Fuat Köprülü, one of the greatest scholars in Turkish literature, made an interesting remark on the Dede Korkut Stories. According to Fuat Köprülü, “Put the entire Turkish literature on one scale and Dede Korkut on the other, Dede Korkut would always weigh heavier”. I believe that the value of the Dede Korkut Book could not be described more accurately. The Dede Korkut Book is foremost among the great monuments and the most distinguished works of Turkish literature.

So much so that, the Dede Korkut Book was unanimously included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018 upon an initiative taken by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This monumental heritage of the Turkish language attracts the attention of Turkish and international researchers of literatüre and history.

In recent months, Prof. Dr. Metin Ekici announced at the World Cultural Heritage Dede Korkut International Symposium that he had found the 13th story, while Prof. Dr. Necati Demir declared to have found 7 new stories and additional texts. Without doubt, these announcements were followed closely by the art and literature world. In this issue we will hear about the lost texts of the Dede Korkut Book, and this new discovery, from Prof. Dr. Metin Ekici and Prof. Dr. Necati Demir.

At the beginning of this article I had said that 2019 had been very productive. The A National Men’s Volleyball team, which made a great breakthrough in recent years, became the 2019 CEV Gold League Champion. Known as the “Efes of the Net”, the A Men’s Volleyball National Team achieved a historic success by becoming an undefeated champion in the CEV Gold League, where it competed for the second time. Last year our Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced 2018 as the Year of Troy, and the Troy Museum, the construction of which had started in 2013, was opened. I would also like to give the good news that, shortly after its opening, the Troy Museum became a finalist for the 2020 European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA). 2019 continues to be productive in terms of Turkish cultural life, literature, art, sports and cuisine. I believe that you will take pleasure in reading about these events in this issue.

Finally, the Yunus Emre Foundation was established in 2009, during the Prime Ministry of our President Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and we are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. Currently, the Yunus Emre Institute has 58 centres in 48 countries, in addition to a large network connecting it to the Turkology Departments of around 100 universities. The Yunus Emre Institute has made efforts to communicate and accurately explain Turkey’s cultural accumulation. Being in contact with local non-governmental organisations, artists and scientists in the places where our centres are located, we have been striving to explain Turkey’s opportunities and theses for the last ten years.

Through language, science and culture diplomacy, the Institute continues to relate our country’s accumulation and dynamics. When we set out ten years ago, we were a new international culture institute that conducted operations in a handful of countries. Now, however, we are a stronger, wealthier and more experienced institute with ideals and targets. We continue to work with the aim of opening the right channels and finding new contacts in order to explain Turkey’s theses accurately. Hoping to meet again in a new, colourful and rich issue, I greet you respectfully.

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Şeref Ateş

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