In the last few years when it comes to Turkey we usually speak about subjects like "accusations based on unrealistic claims" or "refugees."
However, it would be a big mistake to disregard the fact that Turkey is a country that has a 1,000-year-old state tradition and 7,000 years of production, trade, cultural richness and historical accumulation. We should not forget that Turkey is a country that has economic, demographic and historical records with China and India dating back to the first century. Those unable to see this historical and social richness cannot understand Turkey.
We also understand too well those who try to defame Turkey out of jealousy of Turkey and especially Anatolia's mosaic values.
Turkey is a country that has brought significant value to culture and the arts.
Ara Güler was one of these values. When the great artist known to the entire world as Ara Güler, born Aug. 16, 1928, as Aran Güleryan, passed away on Oct. 17, 2018, at the age of 90, we all felt the need to say: "He was a legend." As a citizen of Armenian descent and the pride of Turkey, he earned a place in history and will never be forgotten.
A photojournalist and a great artist, who joined four battles and had photographs published in the greatest journals of their era like Time Life, Paris-Match or Der Stern, Güler also photographed many famous people. Picasso, Sophia Loren, Indira Gandhi, Salvador Dali, Dustin Hoffman, Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Winston Churchill, Maria Callas, Bertrand Russell and Orson Welles are just a few of the names that come to mind. All of them had the signature of Ara Güler on their best portraits. Recently, his pictures of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are still in our memories.
Güler's work, for which he received countless prizes for documentaries and portraits, are now exhibited in countries around the world.
Güler obviously has a very important place in cultural diplomacy that is successfully being conducted by the country's presidency. Turkey's values are shared with the world's public opinion in this program where Turkey's foremost artists are embraced and their projects put in the spotlight.
The Turkish president's Chief Adviser Fecir Alptekin is responsible for this along with her team, and Ara Güler exhibitions are allowing many residents in various cities of the world to have a taste of this artist's works, of whom Turkey is proud of.
After London, Paris and Kyoto, the Güler exhibition is now in New York. The fact that it is happening at the same time as the United Nations General Assembly, which the entire world is following, shows the strength of Ara Güler's photographs. That well-known American intellectual and cultural people joined the Ara Güler Intercultural Discussion panel that occurred in tandem with the exhibition is proof that Ara Güler is still with us.
President Erdoğan, who is in New York for the General Assembly, opened the Ara Güler exhibition at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs Building.
Erdoğan said: "Culture and arts work are a universal bridge in developing relations between societies. With this mindset, I hope that the works of Ara Güler, who is a world-class trademark in his occupation, can reach many people belonging to many nations and cultures that have come to New York from the four corners of the world."
President Erdoğan also added: "Great artists will live on with the works that they have left behind long after they have passed away."
The Ara Güler Photography Exhibition will make its fifth stop in Rome at the Trastevere Museum after New York, and following that it will open in the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu.
If only our friends in Europe could see these photographs when they come to Turkey.
For this to happen, is it necessary to open an Ara Güler Exhibition in the European Parliament, Berlin, Vienna or Athens? We can be sure that if it were necessary for Ara Güler to come to your city for you to know and understand Turkey better, he would come running because he loved Turkey.