The two countries are digitising Macedonia's vast number of Ottoman-era manuscripts.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 15/10/13
Macedonia Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska Milevska (centre) meets Turkish Ambassador to Macedonia Gurol Sokmensuer (right) and the representatives of institutions that work on the digitalisation of Ottoman manuscripts. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]
Macedonia and Turkey completed the first phase of a joint project to digitally record a significant collection of Ottoman-era manuscripts.
"Macedonia possesses some of the richest Ottoman archives outside Turkey," Mahmut Cevik, co-ordinator of the Turkish International Co-operation and Development Agency (TIKA) office in Skopje, told SETimes.
TIKA assumed the responsibility of bringing in equipment needed to digitise 5,000 Ottoman-era manuscripts totalling 900,000 pages at Macedonia's national library St. Kliment Ohridski in Skopje.
The project is part of a larger conservation effort that extends to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo and Albania. It is financed by Turkey's central bank, Yunus Emre Institute in Ankara and the Suleymaniye library in Istanbul.
An expert team from Turkey worked spent four months with Macedonian specialists to digitise the Ottoman written works in law, poetry, literature and religion that range from the 12th to the 20th centuries and are written in Persian, Arabic and medieval Turkish.
Macedonia and Turkey have long collaborated in cultural areas and the Ottoman project confirms and advances the co-operation, said Elizabeta Kanceska Milevska, culture minister of Macedonia.
"It is of great importance that the Macedonian government came up with a strategy for digitalisation of the cultural heritage, which is already being implemented. It is equally significant that our experts will be trained in Turkey, and that is important for furthering the digitalisation process," Kanceska Milevska told SETimes.
Macedonia's national library is a member of the world and European digital library associations, said Mile Bosevski, director of the St. Kliment Ohridski library.
"All manuscripts will soon be made available through them, and anyone can view the manuscripts as they are gradually posted on the internet," Bosevski told SETimes.
The library also created a catalogue and archive with a description of all digitised manuscripts.
Bosevski said after the end of the Ottoman Empire, the manuscripts remained in possession of individuals, organisations and mosques, and Macedonia has made a concerted effort to collect and preserve them.
The manuscripts are becoming part of the world cultural and historical heritage, according to Nevzat Kaya, manager of the team from Turkey.
"Through the project, we are prolonging the life of the manuscripts that are damaged, and we will prevent them from disappearing by digitising them. There were some that would not have been readable in 30 or 40 years," Kaya told SETimes.
"The [Ottoman] written works are best preserved in Macedonia compared to other countries we have visited, and we are very happy about it," Nurettin Ceviz, professor at the Yunus Emre Institute in Ankara, said.
Turkey will give the digitisation equipment to Macedonia's national library as an expression of its gratitude to Macedonia for preserving the Ottoman written works, officials said.
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