Turkey Culture

Turkey Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Turkey

According to COMPUTERGEES.COM, Turkey is a country located in Asia. The first newspapers in Turkey were published in the mid-19th century. Freedom of the press was formally introduced in 1909. The editions went down in the 1920s when the Republic and the Latin alphabet were introduced. Remaining from this time are the quality magazine Cumhuriyet (‘Republic’) and Yeni Asir (‘Century’). The modern day press was established in Istanbul circa 1950. The largest newspaper, Milliyet (founded in 1950, ‘The Nation’) has an edition of about 630,000 copies, while the second largest, H邦rriyet (1948; ‘Freedom’) and Sabah (1985; “Morning”), both have an edition of about 550,000 items. Also T邦rkiye (1970, ‘Turkey’, about 450,000 items) and Zaman (1962, about 210,000 items) are also among the largest. Editions vary through constant circulation wars with lavish offers. A satirical magazine, Gırgır, reaches 500,000 copies.

The state radio and television company T邦rkiye Radyo Televizyon Kurumu (TRT, founded in 1964) has four national radio channels and five national television channels. The first private satellite TV channels were started in 1990, and the state monopoly on terrestrial broadcasting ended in 1993. Among the population, it is three times more common with TV and radio than with newspaper. There are 573 radio and 449 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ANIMALERTS, a wide range of cultures have flourished in the area that today constitutes Turkey, which has left its mark on a great wealth of cultural heritage. But even modern Turkey has a strong cultural life in literature, art and music.

Numerous memorials testify to Asia Minor as a crossroads of cultures. Here lay ancient Troy and the apostle Paul’s hometown of Tarsus. An early Christian art developed both in the Byzantine Empire in the west and among the Armenians in the east. Trade and cultural exchange between Asia and Europe followed the Silk Road, which reached the Mediterranean from the east via what is now eastern and southern Turkey.

Through the arrival of the Turks, Asia Minor was incorporated into the Islamic cultural sphere. However, the Turks occupied Byzantine elements in their art and architecture. The 16th century architect Mimar Sinan is one of the foremost in the entire history of architecture and was responsible for hundreds of projects in the Ottoman Empire, including mosques, palaces and bridges. He was the author of several of Istanbul’s most famous buildings.

In the arts, Turkey is known for carpets, ceramics and metalwork. The music has retained much of its traditional touch.

Arabic and Persian influence is evident in the classical literature and court poetry of the Ottoman period, which peaked in the 15th and 16th centuries. Alongside this there was a rich folk storytelling tradition in the Anatolian countryside. During the 19th century, Turkish writers began to draw inspiration from popular culture. From the middle of the 19th century many intellectuals studied in France.

The most famous Turkish writer of the 20th century was the poet and playwright Nazım Hikmet (1902–1963). He spent several years in prison because he was a Marxist. Hikmet left Turkey in 1950. His books were banned until 1965, but in January 2009 Hikmet posthumously regained his Turkish citizenship which he was deprived of after emigrating to Poland. Other writers who debuted during the 20th century were Yaşar Kemal (1923–2015, occasionally residing in Sweden), Aziz Nesin, Mahmut Makal and Orhan Pamuk (Nobel laureate in literature 2006).

In 2003 and 2004, freedom of expression was expanded, but in 2005 a backlash came. Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted for insulting the Republic and “Turkish” after saying in an interview that “one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds have been killed in this country.”

Many other writers, cultural figures and intellectuals have also been prosecuted for violating the notorious section 301 and similar legal texts. Mehmet Uzun, mentioned as the foremost modern author in Kurdish, returned to Turkey in 2006 after 15 years of exile in Sweden. When his work from the exile was published in Turkey, he was prosecuted several times but acquitted. Uzun passed away in 2007.

The charges have continued even after Section 301 was “reworked” in 2008. Today, the Ministry of Justice is required to bring charges with reference to Section 301. In June 2008, however, the publisher Ragıp Zarakolu was sentenced to five months in prison for having issued a British book on the 1915 mass murder of Armenians.

During the 2000s, Nuri Bilge Ceylan has emerged as one of Europe’s leading film directors. Several of his films have been awarded at the Cannes festival.

Since the beginning of the century, a large number of Turkish TV soaps have been exported to dozens of countries, mainly in the Muslim world, where they have made great success. Millions of viewers have been inspired by the fact that the people in the films are portrayed as modern and liberated without violating the basic values ​​of Islam. The TV series has helped to popularize Turkey as a country, all the way from the Balkans to Southeast Asia.

Turkey’s large dam construction projects have placed ancient remains in the south and southeast under water. Since this 2000 hit the ancient Roman city of Zeugma at the Euphrates, a newly awakened opinion began to demand greater consideration from the authorities and electric power developers. Work on a pond at Hasankeyf at Tigris, a site with both scenic scenes and historical monuments, has received a lot of attention and foreign financiers have withdrawn from the project after criticism. Work has continued with domestic financing, not least for prestige reasons. Intensive dam construction is also ongoing in the Black Sea region. In January 2010, groups from different parts of Turkey formed the so-called Water Council to coordinate their actions. The Water Council was said to want to counterbalance the development and energy lobbyists who now seemed to have all the authorities in their grip.

In Istanbul, perhaps 100,000 historically interesting wooden buildings threaten to collapse. The Ministry of Culture has banned the owners from restoring on their own, but lacks the means to inventory and document the buildings. In 2018, it was reported that many of the old Bosphorus villas find foreign buyers (see Calendar). In 2010, Istanbul was one of the EU’s “European capitals of culture”.

Since the Turkish army resumed the war against the Kurdish PKK guerrilla in 2014, several cities in the south-east have been exposed to heavy fire. The old town center of Sur in Diyarbakır, classified by Unesco as part of a world cultural heritage, was reported to be in ruins in 2016.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes almost 20 places in Turkey. In addition to Istanbul’s historic sights, Greek and Roman sites such as Troy and the rocky landscape of Cappadocia, one can mention a stone-age remnant, sometimes described as the world’s oldest temple: Göbekli Tepe, the “Isterbukskullen”, near Şanlıurfa in the southeast.



AKP members jump off

In a short space of time, five of the AKP MPs leave the party in protest against the corruption scandal and the “arrogance” of the party leadership. Among the jumpers is a former Minister of Culture and former national team player in football Hakan Şükür.

The government is trying to slow down the work of the police

A government decree that police are not allowed to start investigations without the approval of their top managers is blocked by the so-called State Council, the country’s highest administrative court, which says the order violates the constitutional principle of power sharing. A prosecutor who has worked with corruption corruption has been removed from the investigation after he complained that the police had not made the arrests that he had ordered. The state prosecutor explains the relocation with the prosecutor leaking information to the media.

Scandal traps ministers

The three ministers whose sons are suspected of corruption are leaving. One of them, Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, says that most of the alleged illegal projects he was accused of lying behind had been approved by direct orders from the Prime Minister. He urges the Prime Minister to resign himself. Instead, he responds with a major government reform with ten new ministers. One of those dismissed is EU Minister Egemen Bağış, who has also been singled out for corruption.

The government strikes back against corruption disclosures

At least 50 people have been arrested in police raids for suspected corruption in connection with public tenders on major construction projects and illegal transfer of money to Iran. Among the arrested are several leading people in business and three sons of ministers in the AKP government. The arrests are followed by extensive high-level purges from the police force. Among the more than 100 police officers who are dismissed or relocated are the chief of the Istanbul Police and those responsible for actions against economic crime, organized crime and smuggling. Prime Minister Erdoğan accuses them of abusing power and says the raids have been part of a campaign against the government. He also says that those behind the arrests tried to create “a state in the state”,and Modern History). The corruption scandal soon emerges as the worst crisis so far for the AKP government and is interpreted as a tightened power struggle between the government and the Gülen movement, which is considered to have significant support within the police force and the courts. The crisis also exposes cracks within party leadership with internal demands for Erdoğan to dismiss corruption-suspected ministers. Prosecutors call on Parliament to suspend the legal immunity of four ministers, including the Minister of Finance and the EU Minister. A few days after the mass arrests, prosecution is brought against 24 people, including two sons of a minister, an Azerbaijani businessman and CEO of the state-owned Halkbank (Folkbanken).

Migrants to the EU can be taken back

Turkey signs an agreement with the EU to take back migrants who have entered the European Union illegally from Turkey. At the same time, Turkey and the EU decide to start negotiations on allowing Turkish citizens to visit EU countries without a visa.


Diplomatic conflict with Egypt

Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo has been expelled after Prime Minister Erdoğan once again criticized the military’s takeover of Egypt and the clap of Islamists. Turkey responds by explaining the Egyptian envoy in Ankara persona non grata.

Work on a new constitution breaks down

The parliamentary committee, which for two years worked on a new constitution, gives up the attempts. The representatives of the four parties have only managed to agree on about 60 articles, not even half of what a constitution would contain. The differences of opinion in Turkish society are so strong that, for example, politicians could not agree on how Turkish citizenship should be defined or how religious freedom should be protected. Thus, the AKP government does not appear to be able to fulfill one of its most important promises from the 2011 election campaign.

Lifetime of Communist journalists

Six journalists are sentenced to life imprisonment for membership in the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). Among them is Fusun Erdoğan, who leads Kurdish-speaking Özgür Radio. He has been detained since 2006. The European Journalist Federation condemns the “absurd” rulings and describes them as an expression of the Turkish government’s demand for total social control.


  • The EU agrees to resume membership negotiations with Turkey after a three-year hiatus. For the time being, negotiations are limited to the chapter in the EU acquis on regional development.

20,000 are imprisoned under terrorist law for four years

The Ministry of Justice reveals that 20,000 people have been imprisoned with reference to the country’s anti-terror laws over the past four years, of which 8,000 alone in the last twelve months. Most people have not been guilty of violent crimes. A significant proportion of those convicted are Kurds, often members of the legal party BDP.

Headscarf and beard are allowed, allegiance is abolished

The ban on female civil servants to wear Islamic scarves is abolished with immediate effect. Male public servants are allowed to grow beards. The prohibitions remain for judges, prosecutors, police and military. At the same time, the oath of allegiance to the Turkish nation, which has begun all school days since the 1930s, is abolished.


Kurdish ceasefire increasingly fragile

PKK leader Cemal Bayık announces that the Kurdish guerrilla has canceled its retreat from Turkish soil in response to the Turkish state’s failure to comply with its ceasefire commitments that have been in place since the beginning of the year. The statement is confirmed a few days later in an official communiqué, in which, however, the PKK promises to continue observing the ceasefire. The communiqué is particularly criticized for the fact that the government and parliament have not yet reformed criminal laws and electoral laws, granted Kurds the right to education in their own language or created some form of regional autonomy for the Kurdish parts of the country.

New trial against military

Just a few weeks after the many convictions in the Ergenekon affair, the trial begins against 102 former militants accused of overthrowing Turkey’s first Islamist-led government in 1997. The bloody coup against then-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan has been described as “the postmodern coup”. A military demonstration of power and a threateningly worded ultimatum pushed Erbakan to resign. The main defendant is then Defense Secretary General Hakkı Karadayı, for whom prosecutors are serving life imprisonment.


Hundreds of convicted for conspiracy

After a multi-year mass trial, the judges in the so-called Ergenekon affair fall for a nationalist, secular conspiracy to oust the AKP government. Of the 275 who have faced trial, only 21 are acquitted. Former Chief of Staff General Ilker Başbuğ is sentenced to life imprisonment. Life imprisonment is being condemned for more militants as well as for renowned leftist politician Doğu Perinçek and journalist Tuncay Özkan. Three MPs for the largest opposition party CHP are sentenced to between 12 and 35 years in prison. The opposition and independent analysts, both in Turkey and internationally, see the trial partly as politically influenced by the AKP’s willingness to put the army and hard-core chemists in place.


Journalists are fired for reporting on protests

The Turkish Journalists’ Association says that at least 72 journalists have either been dismissed, forced to leave or pressured to resign since the protests against the government began six weeks ago. The large Turkish media companies are in many cases owned by large corporate groups with economic ties to the government, and since the protests against the government erupted, there has been increasing criticism of the self-censorship in the press. Thousands of people have felt referred to social media such as Facebook and Twitter to get a picture of the events.

The peace process is threatened

The PKK accuses the Turkish government of deliberately trying to derail the peace process. The Kurdish guerrilla criticizes the army for continuing to build new military deployments in the Kurdish areas and allowing government-loyal PKK-hostile Kurdish militias to operate in the region.

The political power of the military is limited

Parliament adopts a law that further limits the military’s influence over politics. The Armed Forces have always formally been tasked with “preserving the Republic of Turkey”, which was considered justified military takeovers in times of crisis. Now the law is being changed to the main task of the army is to defend Turkey against threats from abroad.

New leaders for PKK

PKK is re-furnishing in its management. Murat Karayılan, considered relatively moderate, is dismissed as chairman and replaced by Cemal Bayık and Bese Hozat. The latter has led PKK’s women’s association. The change of personality is believed to signal a tougher attitude from the PKK, which has expressed skepticism about the Turkish state’s good will to continue the peace process.


Violence against protesters makes the EU hesitate

The EU is postponing the planned restart for Turkey’s membership negotiations for at least four months as a result of the staunch efforts against protesters and aggressive statements by the government towards both the opposition and the outside world. For the time being, the EU is awaiting a report in October on whether Turkey has met the requirements to continue negotiations.

Police storm demonstration camps in Istanbul

Protesters have been protesting against plans to build the Gezi Park in the center of Istanbul since late May. The protests quickly spread to several cities, including the capital, Ankara. Claws have erupted in several places. Four people have been killed in the unrest. More than 5,000 protesters and 600 police officers have been injured and close to 1,000 people have been arrested. Prime Minister Erdoğan takes a hard line and says the plans to transform the park are firm. After more than two weeks of demonstrations at the Taksim Square in Istanbul, the riot police storm the park with tear gas and water cannons and tear down the tent camps built there. The government says those who continue to demonstrate will be considered terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.


PKK initiates retreat from Turkish soil

In accordance with an earlier message, the PKK guerrilla formally initiates a retreat from Turkish soil on May 8. The process is expected to last for several months, and only after everyone has gathered in Iraq may it be possible to begin discussing a ceasefire, says the PKK leadership. In practice, the approximately 2,000 guerrillas inside Turkey are said to have moved in the direction of Iraq, mainly at night, for several weeks.


The Aliens Act guarantees asylum rights

Parliament adopts a foreign law that allows refugees to seek asylum under the same conditions as in EU countries; The law provides that foreigners cannot be sent back to countries where they risk torture, inhuman treatment or abusive punishment, or risk persecution because of race, religion or membership in a particular organization. The European Commission welcomes the decision.

“Wise people” should promote peace

The government appoints 63 “wise people”, representing the country’s seven regions, who through various initiatives will try to promote the peace process between the state and the Kurds. Among the 63 are representatives of business, cultural figures, academics, human rights activists, journalists and others. They are expected to participate in public debates, keep in touch with the media and discuss peace work with people at the grassroots level.


The PKK leader calls for a ceasefire

Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan proclaims ceasefire and urges his guerrilla soldiers to leave Turkish territory. In a message read in connection with the Kurdish New Year, Öcalan talks about “a new era… when weapons should be silenced and ideas and politics should speak”.


Politicians are allowed to speak Kurdish in public

The ban on political parties using languages ​​other than Turkish in their activities was abolished, after the Constitutional Court found that it violated Turkey’s constitution. It is now allowed to speak Kurdish at party meetings and to, for example, distribute posters and flyers in Kurdish. Shortly thereafter, the government announces that it will be free for imams to use Kurdish in preaching in the country’s mosques. Even Arabic is an allowed language in the mosques.

Left-wing extremist attack on US embassy

A guard and the perpetrator are killed in a blast attack on the US embassy in Ankara. The banned left-wing extremist organization DHKP-C takes on the deed and is subjected to a pat hunting by the police. A few weeks after the attack, the police raided 28 provinces at the same time in search of 167 designated persons.


  • The Supreme Administrative Court tears up the ban on women attorneys to wear a headscarf during court hearings. Already the next day, lawyer Şule Dağlı Gökkılıç appears in a Muslim veil in a Istanbul court.
  • Parliament adopts a law that allows Kurds to speak their own language in courts. The state should be responsible for the costs of interpretation. With the new law, the state is meeting the Kurdish population at an important point. The right-wing nationalist party MHP loudly opposes the law.

Kurdish activists are murdered in Paris

Three female Kurdish activists are found shot dead in the Kurdish Information Center in Paris. Who is behind the murders is unknown, but it is thought to be an attempt to disrupt the ongoing peace talks. One of the killed women, Sakine Cansız, is described as one of the founders of the PKK. French investigators believe the murders are an internal settlement within the PKK. A Kurdish man from Turkey is arrested by French police and charged with suspicion of murder and terrorism. He must have worked as a driver for Cansız.

Turkey Culture

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