TV series fosters Balkan, Turkey relations

21/12/2012

A popular Turkish television series brings people from the Balkans and Turkey together through a common past.

By Ivana Jovanovic and Menekse Tokyay for Southeast European Times in Belgrade and Istanbul -- 21/12/12

photo

"The Magnificent Century" was first broadcast in 2011. [AFP]

Turkish emperor Sultan Suleyman's life has been portrayed in many ways -- a TV series, books, travel packages -- and has drawn fans from near and far. Syleyman's popularity has also become a large part of Turkey's unofficial foreign relations with the Balkans, analysts said.

"The Magnificent Century" is a television series based on Suleyman's love for Hurrem, the slave who became his wife. The series was first broadcast in 2011, and is currently in its 3rd season.

"Turkey's relations with neighbouring regions are not taking place [just] at the level of states any more, but also at the level of societies and individuals," Birgul Demirtas, a Balkan expert from the international relations department of Ankara-based TOBB University, told SETimes.

She said that the Ottoman past used to be perceived as "a black page" in the history of almost all Balkan nations, but "The Magnificent Century" has allowed people to evaluate the common history through different perspectives.

"Sultan Suleyman is modern now. The whole region watches the show and reads the book about the ruler who had loved just one woman and had had the whole world, because all Ottoman countries have been noticed there in some idyllic manner. With this, Turks have done some kind of soft occupation and made the whole Balkans almost nostalgic for a not so fabulous past," Milica Mijovic, an employee of Serbian book publisher Narodna Knjiga, told SETimes.

Although the regional tradition of travelling to Istanbul is a long one, interest has been increasing since the show started. According to Jasmina Delic, deputy director of Travelino in Belgrade, nearly 50 percent of travellers to Istanbul are fans of the show.

"They became fascinated with Istanbul and Suleyman's heritage. The show and their love use to be the main topic during the travel. But the biggest positive surprise is the moment of recognising numerous similarities [with] Turks," Jasmina told SETimes.

Sonja Kostakieva, a 32-year-old pharmacist from Skopje, decided to visit Istanbul after watching this great love and she changed her mind about Turks, too.

Related Articles

Loading

"I thought Turks are conservative but I discovered it is a stereotype. They are great tourists and salesmen and the city is magical," Kostakieva told SETimes.

Turkish actress Mujde Uzman, who plays Armin on the show, believes that the magic on the screen can bring people together to share a common enthusiasm, regardless of the distance and historical phenomenon that separate them.

"This [series] shows that we are all coming from a common history and geography, having its deep roots in the Ottoman heritage. So why can't we resuscitate those common bonds which strengthen our mutual understanding and try to "re-invent" our friendship? It is a great opportunity," Uzman told SETimes.

"My grandmother was talking to me about Turks in such bad way which is not the case with me and my granddaughter, at all. But, we are watching Suleyman together. I promised her I'll take her to Istanbul for New Year's holidays since both of us deeply want to go there. Our next holiday will be in Turkey, too," Stana Georgijevski, a 60-year-old economist in Belgrade, told SETimes.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
Loading
Vote
 
 
  • Email to a friend
  • icon Print Version
  • Share/Save/Bookmark

We welcome your comments on SETimes's articles.

It is our hope that you will use this forum to interact with other readers across Southeast Europe. In order to keep this experience interesting, we ask you to follow the rules outlined in the comments policy. By submitting comments, you are consenting to these rules. While SETimes.com encourages discussion on all subjects, including sensitive ones, the comments posted are solely the views of those submitting them. SETimes.com does not necessarily endorse or agree with the ideas, views, or opinions voiced in these comments. SETimes.com welcomes constructive discussion but discourages the use of copy-pasted materials, unaccompanied links and one-line slogans. This is a moderated forum. Comments deemed abusive, offensive, or those containing profanity may not be published.

SETimes's Comments Policy

Focus on Ukraine

Reportage

Region, Turkey optimistic about new EU leadersRegion, Turkey optimistic about new EU leaders

Regional officials say the recent personnel changes in the EU will have a positive impact on their countries' relationship with Brussels.

SETimes logo

Most Popular

Loading
Loading
Loading

Poll

Should Greece change how it handles illegal immigrants?

Yes
No
I don't know