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Prof. Dr. Ortaylı: Yunus Emre Enstitü Centres Have Been Remarkably Efficient

18.06.2017 953 Okunma Sayısı

Yunus Emre Foundation Advisory Board Member Prof. Dr. İlber Ortaylı, underlined the importance of cultural and Turkish instruction activities of Yunus Emre Enstitüsü centres abroad in his article published in Hürriyet.

Here is Prof. Dr. Ortaylı's article...

"Yunus Emre Enstitüsü that left its 10th year behind, has been particularly fruitful in terms of Turkish language courses. These centres significantly contribute to Turkey's cultural activities and Turkish instruction operations abroad.

Yunus Emre Enstitüsü was founded in 2007. I was working at Topkapı Palace Museum at that time. The Minister of Culture was my friend since school years, Atilla Koç. In our meetings and discussions over many years, we spoke of the necessity for institutes such as Cervantes of Spain, Pushkin of Russia, Dante Alighieri of Italy and Goethe of Germany. Italian and German institutes were highly regarded in Ankara.

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Isen who was the undersecretary during Atilla Koç's ministry said that he came up with the name 'Yunus Emre'; that is possible. In any case, it's a proper name. Everyone agrees on Yunus Emre despite Turkish intellectuals has a bad habit of reinterpreting in their own ways and even claiming the great men and literary figures.


However the research conducted on the life and works of this genius of the Turkish language has gone through a stagnant phase for at least fifty years. We support Yunus Emre by beating the air. I will not discuss the establishment status and income sources of the Enstitü. So far, the chairman of the foundation is the Turkish Foreign Minister. An ambassador substitutes for the minister in the meetings. When the Minister of Culture substitutes as the president of the foundation, nothing else can be expected; nor is it important.

In my opinion, today's Yunus Emre Enstitüsü centres have significant and positive differences in terms of Turkey's foreign representations and cultural activities; the heads of Enstitü centres established in foreign capital cities and metropolises, have been selected from among Turks who were born in that region or at least studied there. For example, German YEE and Austria Vienna Yunus Emre Enstitüsü directors are people who grew up and studied in those countries and have an excellent command of German language. Enstitü centres in the Arab countries are directed by Turkish intellectuals from Kirkuk who received education there for a long time and who have excellent Arabic language skills. The situation is the same  in Warsaw.

Speaking the language and living there, influencing the directors and close colleagues and local circumstances, contacting intellectuals of that country offers great opportunities and convenience to hold mutual cultural activities. This is clear that the easy working conditions and the chance to live abroad called 'sine cura' for the officials of central bureaucracy does not apply to these officials. They are already living there and compared to the first group, they are familiar with the locals and institutions.


As a matter of fact, Yunus Emre Enstitüsü that left its 10th year behind, has been fruitful in terms of conferences and particularly Turkish language courses. They prepare the textbooks themselves. No institution can replace these in Turkey. The ordinary foreign representations of the Ministry of National Education and Culture are clearly behind these centres. No matter which structure change is considered for management, Yunus Emre Enstitü centres' cultural activities and this original form possessed for Turkish language instruction, should be preserved.

The biggest problem in German-speaking countries is that young people's Turkish is limited to just a few hundred words in daily language. They cannot understand serious conversations about history, geography, philosophy in Turkish. On the other hand, it is obvious that those who could not learn German because they do not have a connection with German language and culture although they live and work there, have a great need and love for these conferences held in Turkish. There is a wide hinterland demanding Turkish language and culture. It is necessary to be more restrained when setting up a new institution to replace a successful one. "