Turkish University to Offer Armenian Lessons
The Kadir Has University, Istanbul, will begin offering Armenian lessons to students following a grant from the German Marshall Fund’s Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (BST).
The $23,500 grant will help establish the course as part of a “Languages for Peace” program, which will also see the university offering Greek, Russian, Arabic, Farsi, and potentially Kurdish.
The course, to be taught by an Armenian doctoral candidate, is primarily aimed at business people, representatives of the media and NGOs, and post-graduate students specializing in regional studies. Dr. Mustafa Aydin, university rector and professor of international relations, says teaching people regional languages can act as a means of enhancing cooperation and cultural exchange - particularly important in the case of Armenia, which currently has no diplomatic ties with Turkey.
Currently, Kadir Has is the only university in Turkey planning to offer Armenian as a language option. “Many universities offer English, but English is already widely spoken in Turkey,” says Serdar Dinler, director of the university’s Lifelong Learning Center. “There are 8-9 million [people in the] Armenian diaspora around Europe, and most would have a basic knowledge of Turkish, whereas Armenian is barely known here.”
“Turkey is becoming a focal point in the region and now has more extensive relations with its neighbors than ever before,” Dinler says. “We had 3% trade with neighbors 10 years ago; now we have 40%. It is important that we also develop cultural ties.”
The university is seeking partners for the other languages to be offered. Armenian instruction will commence this fall, and interest is already proving to be strong. Kadir Has is a private university established in 1997 and named for its founder, a businessman and automotive magnate.
BST is a grantmaking initiative promoting regional cooperation and good governance in the wider Black Sea region.