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    Circassians see TRT 6, demand own channel

    Hürriyet Daily News
    07.01.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    ANKARA - The launch of a Kurdish language channel by the state broadcaster has prompted Turkey’s Circassian citizens to ask for a television channel of their own.

    To voice their expectations of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, or TRT, a committee from the Federation of Caucasian Associations, or KAFFED, visited President Abdullah Gül on Monday. "To become a multilingual channel, TRT, which started to broadcast in Kurdish, has to broadcast in other languages, too. Circassians want to experience the pleasure of a broadcast in their mother tongue," the coordinator of KAFFED, Cumhur Bal, said.

    He also complained about the early broadcast time of TRT 3’s program in the Circassian language.

    "Previously the program started at 10 in the morning but now it starts very early. During its half-hour broadcast, it presents the stale news of the previous week or irrelevant subjects such as flowers of the Taurus Mountains," Bal said.

    Referring to the Kurdish language and literature departments, which are due to open at universities, the committee wanted such departments for Caucasian languages as well.

    Circassian representatives also requested that Gül restart services from Trabzon to Sukhumi, the capital of breakway Abkhazia region of Georgia. Turkey halted links 13 years ago when the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, decided to impose an embargo on Abkhazia.

    Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, leader, Devlet Bahçeli, criticized the Kurdish broadcast, claiming that Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s "dangerous initiative" was supported by some groups as a "silent political and mental revolution." "Everybody can speak in their mother tongue in their private lives. There is nobody preventing this, we respect this.

    However, we will continue to speak and think in Turkish," Bahçeli said yesterday during his party’s group meeting.

    The issue, which was presented as a problem relating to the recognition of a cultural right, has great importance for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, as language is the main tool for creating a separate national identity and separate sense of national belonging, he said.

    Meanwhile, in defense of the channel, AKP Leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the contrary, saying the Kurdish broadcast would consolidate Kurdish-origin citizens’ sense of belonging.

    "Our lifestyles can be different, but we have powerful mutual values that unite us. The leader of which is citizenship of the Republic of Turkey," Erdoğan said, adding that TRT 6 would deliver messages of unity, solidarity and brotherhood.
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