Looking has been emerging as a lingua franca in

Topic: Spoken Language
Sample donated:
Last updated: January 17, 2020

Looking through the behaviour of Turkish policymakers and politicians, it is evident that Turkey’s foreign policy is leaning towards pursuing soft power. Aside from establishing strong economic ties, Turkish foreign policymakers commenced using elements of soft power: culture and primary language. Yunus Emre Association started its activities in the Balkans as of 2007, and so far 14 Yunus Emre Cultural Centres have been opened in Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia.

At these centres, besides the Turkish-language courses offered, various cultural activities are organised. The role of language in Turkey’s ties with the region has only been lately recognised despite the fact that there are many similar words between the Turkish language and the languages of the region. In some places, Yunus Emre Centres have also been active in spreading the teaching of the Turkish language also in public schools. The centre in Sarajevo is a good example because owing to its efforts in the academic year of 2012–2013, 59 primary and secondary schools have started to offer Turkish as an elective course, resulting in 4,863 students taking the course (YEE 2013). There is no other regional country that has such an ambitious attempt to increase cultural relations. It is noticeable that the Turkish language has been emerging as a lingua franca in the region, unrivalled by any other regional language (Öktem 2011).

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Further, the influence of increasing the number of Turkish universities in various Balkan countries, such as the International Balkan University in Macedonia and the International University of Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina, is also noteworthy. Benefitting from culture has surely been part of the foreign policy of the Western countries so far, but it seems that Turkish decision makers have also become aware of the increasing salience of soft power instruments as a result of globalisation.

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