« Turkey’s soap opera diplomacy  » – Public Radio International

« Soap operas from Turkey are forging trust and curiosity among residents of Bulgaria, its long-time foe.

Mistrust between Bulgarians and Turks runs deep. The Ottoman Turkish Empire ruled over Bulgaria for some 500 years. Some still look back to 1876, when Ottoman forces committed atrocities against Bulgarians, before the country’s independence in 1908. Today, Matthew Brunwasser reports for PRI’s The World that many Bulgarians have begun to warm to Turkey’s influence because of a not-so-secret weapon: soap operas.

Turkish soap operas are hugely popular in Bulgaria today. One of the main Bulgarian channels shows Turkish soaps six and a half hours a day.

« We are bigots when it comes to Turkey, » Atanas Harizanov, a resident of Perushtitsa, Bulgaria, told PRI’s The World. Perushtitsa was nearly wiped out in the 1876 uprising, but even there, residents are warming to the Turkish soap operas. « They are changing the consciousness of the people of Perushtitsa, despite the deeply buried pain of the past, » Harizanov said. « I don’t believe that its hatred anymore. But little by little, the Turkish soap operas are building a bridge of trust and curiosity. »

Bulgaria used to consider its southern neighbor backward and strictly Islamic, Brunwasser reports. The shows are changing that by showing glamorous Istanbul locations and attractive characters living modern lifestyles. […] »

Source : Public Radio International