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Turkey Withdraws from EU Cultural Funding Program

Turkey plans to leave Creative Europe, a European Union cultural fund that largely supports arts organizations and cultural programming in the EU.

As a result, in 2017, Turkey will no longer be able to receive financial support from the program, and any of the country’s partnerships with European institutions will be invalidated, Can SemercioğluIn of Diken reports. The rationale behind the government’s withdrawal is unknown. The Turkish daily Haberturk suggests that the exit from Creative Europe is related to a concert the program is funding. In April, Germany’s Dresdner Sinfoniker orchestra will perform in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey refuses to call the deaths of over one million Armenians, who were systematically killed by Ottoman Turks during WW I, genocide.

The decision has also been made in the wake of a failed military coup, which occurred in July, and resulted in a surge of arrests of journalists, academics, and alleged sympathizers.

Ahmet Yücel (deputy undersecretary of the Ministry for EU Affairs of the Republic of Turkey) and Xavier Prats Monnè (a European Commission official) signed the agreement allowing the country to enter the program in 2014. The funds from the program’s $1.64 billion budget had been earmarked to support culture, art, film, and translation.

Görgün Taner, general director of Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, said, “Besides providing funding for us to benefit from without being an EU member, this program also offered Turkey an interface with international networks, and had many advantages for Turkey in terms of international visibility and presence. I believe all the necessary measures need to be immediately taken to return to this program.”

Vasıf Kortun, director of research and programs at SALT, said “Our friends, L’Internationale confederation of museums, were in Brussels just yesterday to reapply to the Creative Europe program for 2017. At the meeting, we learned that Turkey is not eligible to apply for funding either as a leader or partner. Projects from a lot of various institutions like us, which will not be possible without this support, are at stake.”

He added, “These developments will especially hit independent cultural institutions very badly. I hope this decision is revoked as soon as possible. We all need this."

A spokesperson for the EU said, “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 EU. Although this is unfortunate, the commission respects the sovereign decision of Turkey.”

According to Variety, roughly $2.6 million has been allocated to support cultural projects since it joined Creative Europe.