ANKARA - Internationally acclaimed Turkish author, Yaşar Kemal, whose works have been published in many languages, called for peace yesterday in a ceremony at the Çankaya Presidential Palace.
"The world today is thirsty for peace and Turkey is the country which most longs for peace among the world’s countries. There is no big or small war. Even the death of one citizen is a war," Kemal said. The 2008 Presidency Culture and Art Grand Awards were presented to author Kemal, architect Turgut Cansever and musician Alaaddin Yavaşca.
The awards were bestowed upon the recipients for their significant contributions to art and culture in Turkey. This year’s winners were selected by the president and a panel made up of people from Turkey’s media, art world and presidency advisers. The awards will be given in different branches of culture and art in coming years.
Kemal said globalization created a prototype world where the literature and art worlds faced similar problems. "Our country is like a multicolored garden and even one flower’s being picked from this garden would lead to a disaster. The world that is doomed to a single language, culture and color is not a world any longer."
He said Anatolia’s cultural wealth and multicultural structure has been important for the whole world and Turkey should be aware of its wealth.
"I am not pessimistic in this sense. I want my readers to be that way too. I am writing for love, friendship and peace. Everything in life is mortal except for love," he said.
Born in 1923 in southern Turkey, Kemal is considered Turkey’s greatest living writer and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Nobel Prize. His works have been translated throughout the world. The author's most recognized novel is "İnce Memed" (Memed My Hawk), which has been translated into 40 languages.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Abdullah Gül said the awards were given to three valuable figures for their intellectual and independent stance and artistic creativity. He said recipients raised the art, culture and architecture level of Turkey to the highest point and exerted a great effort to battle cultural degeneration in the country.
"Cansever presented the society with a glorious blend of the human-oriented architectural tradition of Anatolia and Islam in contemporary and creative forms. Kemal turned the affluent literary traditions of Anatolia from poet Karacaoğlan to author Sait Faik Abasıyanık into his universal work without losing his sense of humanity. Yavaşça created his own synthesis by harmonizing thousands years of Anatolian musical traditions," Gül said.
"They will pass on the cultural legacy of Turkey to the future generations."
Gül also said Kemal, Cansever and Yavaşça must have been disappointed about problems they faced in the past such as injustice, indifference and disloyalty but the state today displayed a more sensitive and respectful approach toward culture and art. The cultural environment has become more democratized.
"As president, I am determined to support culture and art-related activities in Turkey," Gül said, and added his initiatives would continue in establishing close ties with Turkey’s artists and authors in the Çankaya luncheon series.
Other recipients, Yavaşça, and Beyza Cansever who received the award on behalf of his father, Turgut, also thanked the president for the awards.