Cultural Relations

Cultural Relations between The Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Turkey

The Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Turkey entered into an agreement for the promotion of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of culture, education, science and sport in 1999. There is significant reciprocal interest in the countries’ cultures: a number of Estonian musicians and groups, for example, have been working with fellow artists from Turkey for many years.

Estonia is popular among Turkish university students: during the 2017/2018 academic year 165 were enrolled in studies in Estonia.

Turkish has been taught at both the University of Tartu and Tallinn University since 1993. President Süleyman Demirel of Turkey opened a Turkish language office at Tallinn University in 1997. The Centre for Oriental Studies was opened at the university in the same year and began teaching Turkish and related languages and showcasing Turkish culture and history. Bachelor’s studies in Oriental Philology were launched at Tallinn University in 2000 , with Turkish language as its main subject. A Turkish language office was opened at the University of Tartu on the initiative of the country’s ambassador Erkan Gezer in 1998.

The following overview highlights some of the most memorable cultural events that have taken place in the last decade.

  • Various times | An exhibition on a century of relations between Turkey and Estonia visits the Cultural Centre of Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Bilgi University in Istanbul and Uludağ University in Bursa to mark the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.
  • March | University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy director Iñaki Sandoval performs her piece ‘Estonian Suite’ at the Izmir Jazz Festival in Turkey.
  • April | The Turkish translation of Estonian author Jaan Kross’ novel “The Czar’s Madman” is presented in Istanbul, followed by a discussion with guest speaker Tiit Aleksejev, the chairman of the Estonian Writers’ Union.
  • May | The concert hall of Bilkent University in Ankara is the venue for the ‘Baltic 100’ concert of Latvian and Lithuanian soloists conducted by Estonia’s Anu Tali and with music by the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra.
  • June | Turkish school children take part in the ‘Amber Way: From the Bosphorus to the Baltics’ drawing competition dedicated to the 100th anniversaries of the republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in cooperation with the PERA Foundation.
  • March | Estonian cellist Andreas Lend and Turkish pianist Hande Dalkiliç perform together in Ankara.
  • July | The opening reception of Estonia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union is held at the CerModern art museum in Ankara with a performance of Estonian jazz by Erki Pärnoja and Anna Põldvee.
  • December | Hortus Musicus gives a concert in Istanbul.
  • Various times | Early music ensemble Hortus Musicus give concerts at a number of festivals in Istanbul and Ankara.
  • December | Jaak Kilmi, Lennart Laberenz and Reet Aus’ film ‘Out of Fashion’ is screened in Ankara and Istanbul.
  • April | Estonia’s Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta string orchestra (conducted by Andres Mustonen) and organist Piret Aidulo give concerts at St Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul as part of the ‘Bach Before & After’ festival.
  • The Estonian-Georgian film ‘Tangerines’ is screened at the Ankara International Film Festival in the same month.
  • September | Estonian pianist Tanel Joamets gives a concert in Ankara.
  • December | Estonia’s first full-length 3D animated film ‘Lisa Limone’ is screened at the Human Rights Day film festival in Turkey.
  • May | Estonian indie/electronic band Tenfold Rabbit perform at the Europe Day Festival in Turkey.
  • December | Estonian animated films are screened at the ‘Festival on Wheels’ film festival in Ankara and director Antti Jokinen’s ‘Purge’ (based on the novel of the same name by Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen) is screened at the EU Human Rights Day film festival.
  • May | An event entitled ‘Nordic Walking between Continents’ is held on the Bosphorus in Istanbul in cooperation with the Turkish Ministry of European Union Affairs, the City of Istanbul and Istanbul Provincial Government. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet of Estonia and Minister of European Union Affairs Egemen Bağış of Turkey take part.
  • June | The Estonian National Opera gives a series of guest performances at the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival in Turkey.
  • December | The Estonian animated film ‘Lotte and the Moonstone Secret’ premieres in Turkey at a film festival held as part of EU Human Rights Day.
  • February | The Estonian embassy in Turkey organises a Nordic walking event by Lake Gölbaşı near Ankara to mark the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. Finland’s Marko Kantaneva (who devised the sport) and ME Sisustus (the Estonian company manufacturing Nordic walking equipment bearing the Kantaneva trademark) are on hand to showcase Nordic walking.
  • July | A troupe from the Turkish State Opera in Ankara gives a series of guest performances at the Saaremaa Opera Days in Estonia.
  • June | Organised by Istanbul and Tallinn as the European Capitals of Culture for 2010 and 2011, the world premiere of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament is held in Hagia Eirene church in Istanbul. The singers from the Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Vox Clamantis (Estonia) and the musicians from the Borusan Philharmonic Orchestra (Turkey) are conducted by Estonia’s Tõnu Kaljuste. Prior to the concert, President Abdullah Gül of Turkey presents Pärt with a Lifetime Achievement Award in the presence of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia.
  • July | The Estonian girls’ choir ‘Ellerhein’ performs at Hagia Eirene church in Istanbul, led by Tiia-Ester Loitme.
  • October | The 180th anniversary of the conquering of Mt Ararat in 1829 is marked with the opening of an exhibition and installation at İshak Paşa Palace at the foot of the mountain. The exhibition is opened by Estonian ambassador Aivo Orav, University of Tartu rector Alar Karis and Ağrı Province governor Mehmet Çetin. This is followed by an international hike, which reaches the tip of Mt Ararat on 9 October – the very date on which University of Tartu rector Johann Jakob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot achieved the same feat almost two centuries previously.
  • March | Under the aegis of the Estonian embassy, the first skiing marathon in Turkey is held in the Arkut mountains in Gerede. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip of Estonia takes part.
  • June | Foreign Ministers Urmas Paet of Estonia and Ali Babacan of Turkey and Turkish ambassador Fatma Şule Soysal open the ‘Happy Anniversary Year, Estonia!’ photographic exhibition of Turkish diplomat Nur Sağman at the National Library in Tallinn.
  • November | A selection of Estonian puppet films is shown at the Kars Film Festival in Turkey, in which Rao Heidmets’ film ‘Inherent Obligations’ is included in the official competition.