Feature

Turkey: Boosting our image in France

We can take advantage of the Year of Turkey cultural festival to woo the French, to show them that Turks are not barbarians who must be kept out of the European Union, said Erdal Safak in <em>Sabah.</em>

Erdal SafakSabah

France has a complex about Turkey, said Erdal Safak. Last March, France was supposed to launch a 12-month-long cultural festival called Year of Turkey, with art exhibits, concerts, and historical programs. But as the start date approached, French leaders started to “get anxious.”

President Nicolas Sarkozy delayed the festival’s opening until July, after the European Parliament elections. That’s because his party was campaigning “on a platform of opposition” to Turkey’s proposed membership in the EU. Sarkozy didn’t want any events in Paris that might show voters that Turks are not barbarians who must be kept out of the union.

So the Year of Turkey didn’t start until last week, and it will only last nine months. Still, we can take advantage of this opportunity to woo the French. France’s “anti-Turkey stance” may stem from ignorance of Turkey and Turkish culture. We can emphasize our common roots, celebrating, for example, the history of the French port city of Marseilles, which was founded by sailors from ancient Anatolia. Perhaps once the French get to know us, they’ll like us.

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