They came together “Towards a Deeper Understanding of Rural Europe,” a project held on Friday, November 6 at Bilkent's Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. The Department of Communication and Design welcomed Turkish and European villagers, academics, and volunteer students, in association with Leiden University from the Netherlands, and University of Strasbourg from France.
The meeting was the final one of a three-part series. The first took place in the city of Kayseri, at the Kayseri Special Provincial Administration Hall on Wednesday, November 4, before it came to Ankara.
The project mainly encourages and develops a multi-cultural approach to gathering EU agricultural policies. It requires cooperation between three universities in accordance with anthropology, history, and visual art disciplines.
On the very first day of the Rural Europe Project documentary films were screened. Topics covered the fear of fading away, of losing the values and habits that villagers share, as well as the consequences of economic crisis because of state policies. After the first leg of the project gathering downtown, the group went to uptown Kayseri so European villagers could meet Turkish villagers. They discussed their own problems on agriculture policies, the threats towards the values of the village, and human relations in village life.
The second and the final dissemination conference were held on the same day in Ankara accompanied by film screenings and presentations in Turkish, French, and Dutch teams with the aim of highlighting the objectives of the project. After the presentation session, participants attended the drawing and photography exhibition that featured the daily lives of the Turkish and European villagers.
The main objectives of the Rural Europe Project are (1) promoting dialogue between rural spaces in Turkey and Europe on the issue of agriculture policies. By doing so, experimental methods and approaches between universities in Turkey and Europe can be taken one step further; (2) to properly inform both EU member countries, such as France and Netherlands, and Turkey in order to increase the level of knowledge about rural communities in Turkey and the EU. Furthermore, to encourage sharing know-how and experience with rural areas in Turkey and Europe; (3) to increase the level of awareness, in terms of Turkey's possible ascension to the EU, focusing especially on the opportunities and difficulties caused by the rural policies of the EU.
Consequently, the European Villagers' Assembly closing meeting in Kocaeli summed up the success of the project on Saturday, November 7. The European Villagers' Assembly met with Turkish villagers to give the Kocaeli City Council a start on establishing the Kocaeli Villagers' Assembly. What was more inspirational about the outcomes of the project was that the following day after the closing meeting of the European Villagers, villagers who live in Kefken, Kocaeli met with the European villagers. Everyone made the decision to write a petition addressing the problems of European villagers and deliver this petition to the officials of the European Parliament.
BY ERDOĐAN GÖK (COMD/V)