31.01.2011 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Cultural Tourism and Tradition of Minstrels in Kars

©UNDP Turkey New Horizons - Neşe Çakır and Serra Aytun

Hello, this is New Horizons Podcast of United Nations Development Programme in Turkey. UNDP, which works for more productive, healthier, more educated and a greener future, has stories to tell you. In every part of the podcast, we share selected stories of these works of UNDP. In the second part, our topic is Kars and cultural tourism. We will discuss with our contributors what the relevance of reinvigoration of culture tourism in the city on the North East of Turkey can be with sustainable development mission of UNDP. Ms. Neşe Çakır, welcome! Ms. Çakır is manager of MDG Achievement Fund of UN Joint Programme. And National Professional Officer in Ankara for United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization – UNESCO Venice Office, Ms. Serra Aytun, welcome!

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New Horizons (N.H.): Hello, this is New Horizons Podcast of United Nations Development Programme in Turkey. UNDP, which works for more productive, healthier, more educated and a greener future, has stories to tell you. In every part of the podcast, we share selected stories of these works of UNDP. In the second part, our topic is Kars and cultural tourism. We will discuss with our contributors what the relevance of reinvigoration of culture tourism in the city on the North East of Turkey can be with sustainable development mission of UNDP. Ms. Neşe Çakır, welcome! Ms. Çakır is manager of MDG Achievement Fund of UN Joint Programme. And National Professional Officer in Ankara for United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization – UNESCO Venice Office, Ms. Serra Aytun, welcome!

Guests: Thank you!

N.H.: First of all, we shall start with the question that I have just asked. What can the relevance be between sustainable development mission of UNDP and reinvigoration of culture tourism in the city on North Eastern Turkey? How did this story start?

G.E.: United Nations declared Millennium Development Goals in 2000 and it was planned to reach these goals by 2015, in 15 years. Then, in 2005 it was realized that there was not sufficient progress on reaching the goals and a fund was created. Spanish Government supported that fund and these programs have been implemented in several countries, including Turkey. Alliances are trying to develop tourism sector in Kars by benefiting from UN Joint Program and cultural richness for cultural tourism in Eastern Anatolia.

N.H.: Actually it is helpful to talk about Kars at this point. This project was developed, and Kars and its neighborhood were chosen. What was your purpose with your choice?

N.Ç.: As you know, this program has been implemented by United Nations Joint Program on MDGs under the article 1. It aims to reduce poverty and hunger in global level, and in the local level its target is to reduce differences in income and regional development in Turkey. As such, Kars is the least developed region regarding its socio-economic situation, compared to other regions. Although this might seem as disadvantage, Kars also has advantages. Eastern Anatolia and Kars, which hosted many civilizations in the history, have an important wealth in terms of cultural heritage and natural and scenic beauties. While these civilizations turn this region into a very important place, they also remarked with unique memorials and religious constructions. Kars is one of the 15 brand cities and nestles 250 kinds of birds out of over 400 types in Turkey.

N.H.: Actually, you are not talking about the immediate pictures about Kars, in our minds, are you? That information might be very new for most of the people. Kars and cultural tourism, cultural assets etc... In a relation with these, your project has many components within culture tourism. For example, we are talking about some intangible cultural heritages. Through a latest project on this issue, there were some inaugurations. For instance; a House of Minstrels was opened, I want to talk about it and to ask Ms. Aytun. How did you bring Kars and intangible cultural heritage together?

Serra Aytun (S.A.): First of all, maybe we should examine what “intangible cultural heritage’’ concept is. Intangible heritage contains implementations, symbols, expressions, verbal expressions, information and skills that have been described as cultural heritage by societies, groups and in some situations by individuals. In this context, an agreement was prepared by UNESCO in 2003, in order to save intangible cultural heritages Turkey adhered to this agreement in 2006. As part of this, there have been some works to introduce the agreement on protection of the intangible heritage and prepare the new inventory according to the criteria of this agreement. This is a support program carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which is also our national partner and implementer of the joint program. As I have said, in this framework, we organized regional seminars and information workshops in order to constitute a base for a new national inventory, with regards to this agreement. We included 13 cities of Eastern Anatolia; furthermore, in this context, we prepared booklets on basics about protection of the intangible heritages. Those booklets have been distributed to the related authorities. In addition, again within this framework, we, including Kafkas University, developed works for mapping of intangible heritages in Kars. Here, around 50 students were given trainings by professionals from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Besides, of course, in the meantime fellow academicians of Kafkas University participated in this work as coordinators and made research in 83 villages. As a result of that, approximately a 7000-page-document was prepared and we are still working on to publish it.

N.H.: One of the works we have talked about is the topic of minstrels and I see a CD in front of you. This is one of the important traditions in Kars, isn’t it?

S.A.: Yes, I was about to talk on that topic. Minstrelsy is indeed a unique tradition and it was inscribed in 2009 on the List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. As in the world heritage list, a list is being made for intangible heritages. Turkey presents the document to UNESCO, preparing it cyclically,. As I have said minstrelsy tradition was inscribed in the list in 2009.

N.H.: Actually, Ms. Çakır has just mentioned. We are talking about a joint program, executed by diverse UN Agencies, including UNDP and UNESCO, and Ministry of Culture as partners. While as we said, this is a joint program by UN and Ministry of Culture, this CD was compiled by a specialist from Ministry of Culture. If you would like, let us listen to a part of minstrelsy shortly and then continue.

Guests: Sure. [Music]

N.H.: Yes. That was the folk song or work of art of Minstrel Maksut Koca, named “Koç Köroğluyam”… It is on the CD that you have mentioned, prepared by the Ministry of Culture. Probably, these songs and folk songs also are on your web page.

S.A.: Yes, they are. I would like to add something now, as we have mentioned about inauguration of Culture House. As I have said, this is a tradition that was registered in 2009. The registration also brings some responsibilities to the countries on protection of this culture and keeping it alive. In our program, we actualized some activities to keep this program alive in UN Joint Programme. One of these is to prepare a CD of original work of arts and songs of local minstrels, which you have already mentioned. In the meantime, a special training programme was initiated on saz and tar making. Nonetheless, we organized an international minstrelsy festival in Kars and there was extensive attendance. Approximately 120 minstrels from Turkey participated in and there were a lot of audiences and viewers. Lastly, I would like to touch upon Culture House. The Namık Kemal Culture House in Kars was consigned to Association of Minstrels for 7 years with a tripartite protocol signed by Kars Municipality, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Çobanoğlu Minstrels Association.

N.H.: Since the beginning of this year, the Culture House stepped in a new phase and minstrels now have a certain place. They can both produce "saz" and "tar", and have performances by your efforts and support of Ministry of Culture. Ms. Çakır, to sum up, which of Millennium Development Goals does this program fit in? You have had an introduction; where can you connect these projects to?

N.Ç.: Our goal with this project is actually to abolish the regional differences and to develop tourism as an alternative sector in Kars. In this context, a tourism strategy has been prepared. For this, Turkey’s strategy of 2023 has been predicated, and a structure of governance and an action plan have been established in order to be able to execute activities in terms of sustainability. There is a governance structure in collaboration with private sector, public agencies and NGOs, and hereafter our works will continue through specified priorities.

N.H.: We could not actually have any chance to touch upon; yet we mostly focused on cultural tourism and culture as a component. Let me also underline that you have other sub-projects such as winter and nature tourism, and also grant programs which target gender, equity. Lastly, we shall end this episode with outcome of your expectations from this project.

S.A.: Of course we have activities on movable and immovable cultural properties besides activities for intangible heritage. For instance; actualization of digital information management system, support for preparations of the management plan on Ani Archaeological Site. Furthermore, we recently have a work on protection of the intangible heritages. We prepared several brochures, accessible on the internet, for public awareness raising.

N.H.: I shall state, it is possible to find aims and targets of all of these activities, even CDs of minstrels on <a s_oc="null" href="http://www.kultur.mdgf-tr.org/">kultur.mdgf-tr.org</a> web page. Finally our wish is to protect, to adopt and to provide sustainability for these values with these activities. Ms. Serra Aytun, National Professional Officer in Ankara for UNESCO Venice Office and Ms. Neşe Çakır, Manager of UN Joint Programme for MDG Achievement Fund. I would like to thank you for your attendance. We have come to the end of New Horizons Podcast of United Nations Development Programme in Turkey. This podcast has been recorded at studios of Radio İlef of University of Ankara. You can follow our podcasts on Açık Radyo (Open Radio) on FM frequency or on the internet through iTunes, on <a s_oc="null" href="http://www.undp.org.tr/">www.undp.org.tr</a>, besides on YouTube in video format. Our username on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr is UNDP Türkiye. Hope to see you next week, goodbye!

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