CCA: Can you tell us about your biography?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: I have graduated from International Relations Department of METU in Ankara. After my masters at the Bilkent University, I have joined the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990. Since 17 years, I have served 11 years in our missions abroad and totally 6 years in Ankara. Since October 2006, I am Counselor in charge of Cultural Affairs at the Turkish Embassy in Vienna.
CCA: You roots are in a diplomatique career. What is your focus on international cultural affairs? Can you tell us more about that?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: I always ask for professional assistance, especially from Turkish artists, Turkish organizers abroad or at home. This should be my catch up with my other colleagues. It is an experience I have learned a lot, because in our embassies abroad we attach a lot of importance to cultural events, since they are our windows opening outside. In cultural exchanges, you go to the public. We always think it is important to reach out for the public, and culture is an important part of our interactions. It is more concrete to have an activity that people can join. I have also been working on culture in other missions. I was in Rome and in Thessaloniki – always part of my work has been culture.
CCA: What is your approach to culture?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: Culture is an essential part of our lives and interactions. Culture is the most dynamic, dimensional and tangible Part of our relations. We believe better understanding can be reached through cultural exchanges. Thus, we attach utmost importance to our cultural relations and exchanges between Turkey and Austria. We know that people in the cultural Scene make a lasting impression, so we are proud of Turkish-Austrians who successfully represent both worlds: like designer Atil Kutoglu, twin pianists Ferhan-Ferzan Önder, composer Can Aksel Akin, and gladly so many others in the field of opera, music, contemporary and fine arts.
CCA: Is there any personal passion for arts behind your work?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: I am a good listener and a good spectator, personally. I am not professional in music or arts – but I do like it. I always enjoy it when we are able to realize events. It is always a big task behind the preparations and at the end it is really a good feeling when we have accomplished a concrete result.
CCA: How can the cultural task of the Turkish embassy be described? For example which services do you offer your audiences in Austria?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: We do not have an Institute in Vienna yet, however, as the Embassy, we are doing our best to serve as one. Turkish Embassy is in located at this historical Palace, built in 19th century and our Embassy since 1916, well preserved in its original grandeur and decorations. At this beautiful location, we are organizing concerts, theatre, music and dance events as well as culinary evenings, for an invited audience. We are also supporting joint projects with Austrian and international partners. And we are always open for new initiatives and dialogue.
CCA: Do you have any cooperation with local organisations in Vienna?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: We are cooperating with local authorities. cultural venues and organizers on the base of joint projects. For future projects we have contacts with Konzerthaus, Kunsthalle, Belvedere, Kunsthistoriches Museum, MOYA and others. Universities are also our partners for projects, as well as institutes and think thanks.
CCA: What are the event- highlights in 2007?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: We have organized many events this year, arnong the biggest was the Concert for the 100th birthyear of Turkish composer Adnan Saygun, Wiener Symphoniker recited his works under the direction of Turkish conductor Rengim Gokmen and soloist Gulsin Onay, in Konzerthaus on the 6th of June 2007. Soon in September "Istanbul Now" exhibition will take place in Feichtner Galerie and "Istanbul Classic" in Palais Breuner. And Turkish artists will be present in festivals in Vienna this autumn. Beginning of November will be "Literatur im Herbst: Türkei" in Theater Odeon. In cooperation with "St. George´s College Absolventen Verein" we will organize a Ball in our 24th of November 2007. Tickets will be sold and the event will be announced on Embassy on www.tuerkischebotschaftwien.at our internet site. Hopefully, there will be many more in 2008: Turkish organizers are planning to be partners of "Wiener Kaffesiedler Ball" in February 2008.
CCA: What are the visions for your work in Vienna?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: I would like to witness a "Turkish Season" in Vienna, hopefully in 2008 or 2009, with simultaneous, multi-dimensional cultural activities. An exhibition of historical relics from Topkapi Museum, modern exhibitions in other locations, and concerts, dance and musical events, to be co-organized by Viennese partners and Istanbul Foundation of Culture and Arts. I also have the pleasure to work together with Linz 2009 European Cultural Capital organizers, for multi-dimensional events on Turkey, to be undertaken in April 2009. This will be very timely since Istanbul is the next European Cultural Capital in 2010.
CCA: Would you like to give any final comment to our readers?
İstem Cırcıroğlu: We think that culture is a really strong part of our lives and interactions. We always live in cultural exchanges. I want to bring to the attention that there are so many good examples of interactions here in Vienna. So many Turkish artists, Turkish students, Turkish opera singers, pianists and composers – I cannot count all their names -, so many Turkish-Austrian citizens are part of the culture scene here. I would like underline that we have to see both sides of a coin, there are also very good examples among us.
Interviewer: (pab) (ws)
Türkische Botschaft in Wien