Turkish ministers hold a special reception for book fair

Turkish ministers hold a special reception for book fair

LONDON - Anatolia News Agency
Turkish ministers hold a special reception for book fair

Minister Çelik said Turkey’s most treasured value is country’s cosmopolitan structure, during the reception. AA photo

Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik attended the London Book Fair and said literature lovers would be able to understand Turkish literature better with the fair.

Turkey’s London ambassador hosted a reception at the embassy residence in honor of the fair, which will continue until April 17. Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış and writers Adalet Ağaoğlu, Ahmet Ümit, Murathan Mungan, İskender Pala, Elif Şafak, Buket Uzuner and Doğan Hızlan attended the event.

“I have come here via a very long road. I was on a trip to Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. This means I have seen the traces of our culture from the Silk Road to London,” Çelik said.

Each country can be defined with a single word, but it is impossible to define Turkey with one word, Çelik said. “Turkey is a Middle Eastern country but also a Mediterranean country. Turkey is a European country but also an Islamic country. Turkey is a Balkan country but also an Asian country. Turkey is a Black Sea country but also a Mediterranean country. This means our country does not consist of only one land but a cultural miracle.”

Being different is normal

Turkey’s most treasured value is the country’s cosmopolitan structure, according to Çelik. “Long before pluralism was discovered in the West, it was already one of the foundational concepts in our culture.”

“Our civilization’s base consists of many cosmopolitan cities. This is a heritage for us, and this heritage reveals the different variety in society. The variety in society and the differentness that we see seem normal for us because we are used to living with that, and this is our valuable heritage.”

Differentness or being different does not mean marginalizing other people, Çelik said.

Anatolia is one of the main hubs where civilizations were born and spread to the world, said Çelik, adding that Anatolia was also the main hub of world literature and philosophy. It is the geography that creates philosophy and artwork, he said.

“The first examples of Western literature, such as Homer’s ‘Iliad,’ Yunus Emre’s ‘Güldeste’ and Mevlana’s ‘Masnavi’ all left really important traces on today’s literature.” Those examples are also from Western and Anatolian literature.

“Today our most distinguished representatives of Turkish literature are here in London. I would like to say we have always supported them and will continue to support them,” he said.

“If someone told me to define the culture [of Turkey] with one word I would say that it is ‘tolerance,’” said Çelik.

“Our culture consists of people who don’t speak the same language but who feel and share the same thing.”

Their aim is to present the culture and tourism of Turkey to the world, Çelik added. They are working hard to do this, he said, speaking about the ministry’s projects. It is the first time that Turkey is the guest of honor at the London Book Fair, Çelik said. “Thanks to this fair, English literature lovers will be able to know Turkish literature better.”

After Çelik, Egemen Bağış spoke about the fair. “I am very happy to attend this reception representing such a beautiful country.” Bağış said he was also very proud to represent Istanbul, which he called one of the most beautiful cities. Bağış also added that the one and only thing missing from Istanbul was the Olympic Games.