Turkey Cites Armenian Genocide For Exiting EU’s Arts Program

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 20, 2016 (Photo: Associated Press/Richard Drew/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 20, 2016 (Photo: Associated Press/Richard Drew/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 20, 2016 (Photo: Associated Press/Richard Drew/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

ROME (Variety)—Turkey is exiting the European Union’s Creative Europe program which supports the arts, including film and TV — a surprise move that comes as relations between the Turkish government and the E.U. become increasingly strained.

In 2015, Turkey joined the ranks of non-E.U. member countries allowed to tap into Creative Europe’s 1.46-billion-euro fund ($1.56 billion) to support culture and the arts between 2014 and 2020. Creative Europe incorporates the E.U.’s Media Program, which subsidizes production, promotion, and distribution of film, TV, and video content.

“The European Commission regrets Turkey’s decision and the fact that Turkish cultural and audiovisual operators will miss future opportunities for cooperation with their counterparts in the E.U.,” an E.U. spokeswoman. “Although this is unfortunate, the commission respects the sovereign decision of Turkey.”

The withdrawal, now under negotiation between the E.U. and the Turkish government, is to be effective from January 1, 2017.

According to Turkish daily Haberturk, the pullout is in response to a concert, supported by Creative Europe and performed in April by Germany’s Dresdner Sinfoniker orchestra, in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey rejects use of the word “genocide” to describe the killings of more than a million Armenians and other Christian minorities by Ottoman Turks during the 1910s. The issue continues to be a sensitive one for modern Turkey: In June, the German parliament’s symbolic resolution declaring the killings a genocide sparked an angry reaction from the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More recently, in the wake of the July 15 failed coup in Turkey, tensions between the E.U. and Ankara have worsened, partly because E.U. officials have criticized Erdogan’s heavy crackdown against the coup’s alleged plotters and sympathizers.

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