BTA News

BTA National Press Club in Ankara Hosts Meeting on Culture and Education as Bridge between Bulgaria and Turkiye

A meeting titled “Culture and education – a bridge between Bulgaria and Turkiye” was held at the BTA Press Club in Ankara on Tuesday. It was organized by BTA and took place ahead of the tour by the Sofia Opera and Ballet with Puccini’s Tosca in Ankara on November 8 and Istanbul on November 11.

The tour is mottoed “Bulgaria Congratulates Turkiye: Happy Centenary of the Republic!,” and is held under the auspices of the wives of the two countries’ Presidents, Desislava Radeva of Bulgaria and Emine Erdogan of Turkiye.

It is a charity event and the proceeds will go to the areas in Turkiye affected by the devastating earthquakes in February this year.

Attending the meeting were Sofia Opera and Ballet Director Plamen Kartaloff, the rector of the Trakia University of Stara Zagora, Dobri Yarkov, Bulgarian National Radio Director General Milen Mitev, Bulgarian Ambassador Angel Cholakov, opera singers Gabriela Georgieva and Martin Iliev, and conductor Sunay Muratov.

Opening the event, BTA Director General Kiril Valchev said that the agency’s archives include messages on memorable days for Turkiye, when the Republic’s foundations were laid. In those days of October and November 1923, BTA was already 25 years old, he added.

Valchev quoted Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s words of 1931 that he will not forget his pleasant moments in Bulgaria and that he had been and would always be a friend of Bulgarian people. Valchev also quoted Atatürk’s words that the two countries should be friends, and whoever is against Bulgaria is also against Turkiye.

He said that the idea for the Turkiye tour of the Sofia Opera and Ballet with Tosca is an idea of the Bulgarian Embassy in Ankara and Ambassador Angel Cholakov, with the support of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture as well as the Bulgarian-Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Director of the Sofia Opera and Ballet, Plamen Kartaloff, pointed out that this is the first time the Sofia Opera is visiting Turkiye. “We hope that this project will bear the fruits of a cooperation – for Sofia to be part of Turkiye’s culture and Turkiye to be part of Bulgaria’s culture,” said Kartaloff.

Sunay Muratov, who will conduct Tosca in Ankara and Istanbul, said that culture, and in particular the art of opera, is something universal and is a way to bring two nations closer together. The conductor, who has dual Bulgarian and Turkish citizenship, was introduced by the BTA Director General as “the embodiment of a bridge between Bulgaria and Turkiye in the field of culture”.

Muratov said that he was proud to be part of this large-scale initiative and expressed confidence that the cooperation between the Sofia and Ankara Opera will continue.

“We have not seen such an initiative in a long time – maybe it is even the first time for such institutions to cooperate. I am sure that this will continue in the future. I hope that we will build the groundwork for a collaboration that will continue,” the conductor said.

Bulgarian Ambassador Anglel Cholakov dwelled on the importance of cultural diplomacy. “Cultural diplomacy is one of the most powerful delivery vehicles of our foreign policy,” said the diplomat. In his words, the Tosca tour of the Sofia Opera will be “the culmination of an ambitious season for Bulgaria in Turkiye.”

“We have had over 15 events, starting with the iconic calendar and exhibition about [Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk’s Sofia years, and culminating with the opera tour in Ankara and Istanbul,” he noted.

He also underscored the importance that is attached to academic exchanges.

In the words of Yuksel Özkale, who chairs the BISAV organization of Balkan immigrants in Ankara, Bulgaria “won the heart of Turkiye” with the events it organized on the occasion of the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, including the Tosca tour.

Özkale said that this year marks both the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Turkiye.

“For us, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is a very important value,” the BISAV chairman further stressed.

In his words, Bulgaria “has stolen the heart of Turkiye” with these important events that it has organized on the occasion of the centenary.

The Rector of the Thracian University in Stara Zagora Prof. Dr. Dobri Yarkov, said that his University will be “part of the bridge that is being created between Turkiye and Bulgaria in the field of education and science”. He said: “We have dozens of students from Turkiye who are strongly motivated. They are doctors, veterinarians mainly, but I feel with my heart that a new stage in our cooperation with Turkiye opens after its centenary.” He added that culture, education and science make the most solid bridges between people.

Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) Director General Milen Mitev said that culture is the most direct way for peoples to get to know each other. “If politics sometimes divides us, culture always has the power to unite us,” he said.

He highlighted the contribution of BNR to strengthening the bond between the Bulgarian and Turkish people. “76 years separate us from the first Turkish-language broadcasts of the national radio. Over the years, BNR’s Turkish service has faced various economic and political obstacles, but fortunately the desire of our colleagues to provide information in all mother tongues for the people of Bulgaria and our compatriots around the world eventually prevailed and today we continue to have both on-air broadcasts and internet news in Turkish,” he said.

This year BNR revived another project: to record folklore pieces of the Turkish ethnic group in Bulgaria, in which young musicians and singers perform new arrangements of traditional songs that are part of the culture of the Turkish community in Bulgaria. “We are thinking of continuing this project with the release of this music, because we at BNR also believe in the power of culture to improve the ties between peoples,” the BNR Director General said.