” Increasing diplomatic and economic relations between Turkey and Serbia in recent years have boosted Turkey’s positive image within Serbian society, making the cultural similarities between two nations more visible.
Cooled relations between Turkey and Serbia at the time of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War and of Kosovo War in 1999 changed into intense political and economic relations over the last decade, following the end of ultra-nationalist Milosevic rule in Serbia in 2000. For the last 10 years, Turkish-Serbian relations have been getting closer and closer considering the diplomacy traffic and various trade and investment agreements between the two countries. Advanced diplomatic relations between the two countries are also reflected in Serbian society as Turkey and its culture have recently begun to draw more attention by Serbian people. […]
Turkish soap operas, for instance, with their high ratings, have been their own form of diplomacy for a long time in Serbia. Tamara Çiroviç — who is a host and editor’s assistant for morning talk shows on the Serbian Kopernikus TV station — confirmed that these soap operas, now broadcast on eight different Serbian channels, have already surpassed their previously most-watched Brazilian and American counterparts in TV ratings. Among the most favorite Turkish soap operas in Serbia are “Binbir Gece” (A Thousand and One Nights), “Yaprak Dökümü” (Falling Leaves) and “Hanımın Çiftliği” (Lady’s Farm). […]”
” As much as objective commentators are right to applaud Turkey’s rapid modernization process — think new roads, hospitals, schools, alignment with EU legislation, an emerging civil society, economic strength, regional political influence, its anticipated and soon to be drafted civilian constitution and so many other issues — we should not refrain from addressing one major obstacle which must be overcome before the entire length and width of the nation can be considered ready for the future: the quite considerable economic gap between Turkey’s east and its west. […]
This is further complicated by what in all modesty can only be described as ignorance on behalf of some segments of the Turkish public who live to the west of an imaginary divide linking Samsun with Ankara and Konya with Antalya. For them the Far East begins just beyond that line. A look at soap operas as broadcasted by nearly all Turkish television stations or advertisements for Turkish goods and services, which in most instances are shot with İstanbul as backdrop, underlines this assumption.”
“Turkey has been scoring high in economic development. This has already improved the self-confidence of the Turkish people and the government to speak more loudly in the international arena. […]
There is no such thing in the dictionary of international politics or of capitalist economy. But the secretary of state knows what she is speaking about. She explains the “welfare alliance” as utilization of Turkey’s economic surge as leverage for political and cultural change in the Middle East. The Americans are aware that what makes the Turkish prime minister the “new man in town” is not the harsh criticism Recep Tayyip Erdoğan uses against Israel — Arabs have many harsher critiques of Israeli policies. Nor is it the religious rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood used by Turkish politicians that makes Turks a role player in the region. It is thanks to the economic surge that is being experienced in Turkey despite the undeclared bankruptcies in its immediate neighborhood that the Arabs are looking toward Turkey as a future destination. Turkish soap operas, which have a sweeping effect on Arab pop culture, add to this perception of Turkish wealth. I am sure Clinton is looking at projections of credible institutions rather than the Turkish soap operas, but in the end, she reaches the same result: the Turkish miracle. […] “
“Turkey’s regional prowess has been on the increase for some years now. This is partly boosted by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy, focused on building essential economic, political and cultural ties with the neighboring Arab region. […]
Yet it is the cultural realm of influence that we see Turkey evolving into a regional point of inspiration. Turkey is building bridges but not just across the Bosporus. Turkish cultural products are going global. In the Arab world Turkish fever seems to be sizzling. From Damascus to Dubai, Turkey has become a hot topic. The success of Turkish soaps and television serials such as “Gümüş” and “Sarkhet Hajaar,” amongst others, are putting Turkey at the center of the hearth and home in the Arabic-speaking world. Turkey is producing the ingredients and the Arab world is hooked and falling in love. The phenomenon goes so far that the soap “Gümüş,” dubbed “Noor” for the Arabic-speaking audience, has become sacred TV time for its avid viewers.[…]
Rana, a 24-year-old office manager from the West Bank, is one of the many fans who are gripped by Turkish soap fever. When asked about the reasons as to why a show such as “Gümüş” or “Noor,” as it has been dubbed for the Arabic audience, is such a success, her response was that “the show deals with issues that we are dealing with.” Rana’s contemporaries share a similar notion. The soap’s appeal to Arab audiences is due to the fact that Turkey is a Muslim country. The issues portrayed in the folds of the glamorous drama have a familiar context that Arab viewers are able to interpret into their own social dynamics. Young people sitting in cafés in Ramallah attribute the soap’s success to the fact that Turkey’s culture and traditions are so similar to their own.
Yet don’t be mistaken in thinking that the issues being dealt with in “Noor” are toned down for a more conservative audience. Viewers suggest that the attraction behind the success of these soaps is the appeal on an aesthetic level of the sleek and professional production delivered by a glamorous and attractive cast which provides a sense of escape in addition to offering a source of social aspiration. The show manages to successfully navigate its way around contemporary taboos which Turkey has had the advantage of experiencing due to its own course of history; the struggle between and the successful symbiosis of modernity and tradition. This is welcomed by the audiences, who appear to be looking for inspirational ways to deal with taboo issues and evolving social dynamics becoming more prevalent in their societies such as gender roles, divorce, premarital sex and abortion. All of these issues have been addressed in episodes of “Noor.” This is creating the effect of placing Turkey as a destination of aspiration in terms of guidance along the map of societal development. This can be attributed to the reality that Turkey presents a successful Muslim country on a committed and increasingly developing democratic trajectory. Hence the image of Turkey is also evolving and becoming more pertinent in the eyes of its Arab neighbors.[…]