Interview with Ms. Hurriyet Ersoy, an advisor to the Turkish government, taken by the magazine's editor-in-chief in February of 2012 in Istanbul, in Turkish and Karachay-Balkar languages.
Miss Hurriyet, it's hard for me to interview you in order to introduce you to the international audience. You are active in different things, and I didn't have a chance to talk to you lately. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
I graduated from the Department of Economics at the Hacettepe University. Later, I received another degree from the University of Istanbul. I worked at the University of Marseille, in the areas of modernization of transportation, and the economy. After that, I worked in the ministry of transportation of Turkey.
After traveling around the Caucasus, I published a series of articles, under the title, 'A Girl Named Hurriyet Dreams about the Caucasus'. Turkiye newspaper published these articles, ten issues in a row, as part of their publications on the republics of the North Caucasus. After these materials were published, the government contacted me and told me they need to hire a specialist who knows the Caucasus region, and can speak the local languages. They asked me if I wanted to work for them. My response was that I was willing to work for them, even for free. I spent the next year traveling between Istanbul and Ankara. After that, the government required me to devote my full time to that job. At that time, the Prime Minister of Turkey was Suleyman Demirel. In 1991, he appointed me as his personal advisor. A year later, Suleyman Demirel became president of Turkey. He only took two persons with him to his new office, the former Minister of Culture Namik Kemal Zeybek, and me. Both of us were working on the issues related to the Turkic world. I was working on a diplomatic level, arranging the inter-governmental meetings with the autonomous republics of the Russian Federation. I also worked on bringing the students from those republics to study in the Turkish universities, and on building trade relations. My work expanded beyond the Caucasus, to Central Asia. All of this was happening at the time when the former Soviet Union republics declared their independence.
One of the most notable projects I was part of at the time, was the creation of a joint Turkish-Kazakh university, named after Hodja Ahmet Yessevi. The Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, an ethnic Russian, was the initiator of this project. I was the president of the board of trustees of that university. My job was also to propagate the university on the international level. Ten years later, we created a foundation using our own money. The foundation owned two companies involved in construction and tourism business. I was the president of the tourist company, and had a casting vote in the construction company. We worked on the construction of the president's office, a hospital, and a campus for thirty thousand students. I was the overseer of all of these works. The new university accepted students from the entire Turkic-speaking world. We had students from Moldova, the Caucasus, Kosovo (former Yugoslavia), from many different countries. We continued to advertise the university widely, we taught students, and we even gave them stipends and scholarships. The university continues its work today.
After that, we created the Manas University in Kyrgyzstan. This university became a model for the entire region. I worked as a coordinator for this international university.
At the same time, I also continued to work for the Turkish government, in the president's office. I dealt with the economical and cultural issues related to the Turkic-speaking world.
Parallel to these tasks, I was in charge of Ahmet Yessevi Foundation in Ankara. In 2003 I also organized Karachay-Balkar Cultural Society in Ankara, of which I am still the chairwoman today.
In 1992 we organized Kazakhstan-Turkey Friendship Association. I continue to be in charge of this association as well. You must understand that all of these projects are social in nature.
Periodically, we also organize business meetings. Recently, I visited Astana, where I was invited to open a Turkish Museum in the famous pyramid- looking building in Kazakhstan's capital city.
From there, I went to the Hodja Ahmet Yessevi University, where I was awarded a golden bowl in recognition of my work.
The construction company that belongs to our foundation is called AYTAC. Our company constructed an entire campus in the city of Turkestan, Kazakhstan. We were also involved in a very important social work there. We paid for the complex medical operations for the young people who could not afford them. We also built kindergartens. We used the money our company earned, to pay stipends and scholarships for many students. We did all of this social work of our own free will. I can't even remember everything we did. We helped to restore ancient buildings, mausoleums, minarets, etc. We helped the newlyweds financially, to start their new life.
Now I am back to being an advisor to the government, and I work on the same issues. I have become very interested in political work, lately. This is why I participated in the parliamentary elections with the Justice and Development Party of Turkey. I was not elected, not this time. Now I work as a government advisor, and oversee the projects I mentioned above.
You are also connected with the subject of Mevlana (Jalaluddin Rumi), am I right?
Yes, I also support the international Mevlana Foundation.
Is this part of your official duties?
No, this is my personal desire to serve the memory of Mevlana, who was a true saint.
This is so beautiful! Are you attracted to humanism?
Humanist ideas are very dear to me. I am very interested in Mevlana's heritage, because I feel a personal closeness to him and his works.
Miss Hurriyet, what can you tell us about your family's background?
My mother is an ethnic Karachay. Her father is from the Kochkharov clan, and her mother is from the Tekeyev clan. My father's clan is Marshanov, on his mother's side he is related to the Batchayevs and the Semenovs. My paternal grandfather, Khadzhi-Ismail, came to Turkey with an assumed name of Marshanuk. In the Caucasus, you have the Marshankulov clan, both in Karachay and in Nalchik. We stay in touch with them.
Did you parents manage to see the Caucasus yet?
No, they didn't. My grandparents emigrated from the Caucasus to Turkey. We are the third generation here, already.
However, my brothers visited the Caucasus after I went there.
Miss Hurriyet, what does the expression "purity of the heart" mean to you?
To me it means a positive, kind, and sensitive person, with clean thoughts and intentions.
What is the most exciting memory of your childhood?
It was the time when I lived with my parents, brothers and sisters, when my father was still alive. It was a very different life back then.
Do you want to write a book?
Yes, I do. I just don't have enough self-discipline to write a whole book. But I do make notes.
What would you write about if you chose to write a book?
I would write about finding my own personhood, after I visited the Caucasus for the first time in 1989.
That was when you and I first met, wasn't it?
Yes, it was. Before that trip, I was trying to find something that would fill my inner void. Only when I came back to Turkey from the Caucasus, did I realize that my void was filled. God gives a certain task to every person. I understood that God wanted me to get involved. I asked God to show me how I can help. It happened so fast, as if He really heard my prayers and responded. I got a job directly related to the task. No matter what part of the world I end up in, I try to help my Karachay-Balkar nation, all the peoples of the Caucasus, and the Turkic-speaking world. With the help of my Karachay-Balkar language skills, I can communicate with the 250 million Turkic-speaking peoples, around the world. I draw my strength from these communications.
This is so great! As I understand, Turkey's desire is to develop itself, help others, and to live peacefully with its neighbors. Am I right? Do the other nations understand Turkey's intentions?
As the founder of modern Turkey, Ataturk's main desire was to have peace in our land and peace in the entire world. Turkey wants to conduct this policy. I don't know whether the other nations understand Turkey's intentions correctly. Turkey's position is this: it does not want to have conflicts with any country. Turkey wants peace and quiet in the whole world.
Economic relations between Turkey and Russia continue to develop. But we want these relations to develop in the other spheres, not just in trade. How do you view these relations in the future perspective? What will this mean for both of our countries and for the world?
Turkey and Russia maintain warm and friendly relations. Both countries must strive to keep things that way. By doing so, both of our countries will have a huge influence on the affairs in the region, in all of Eurasia, and in the entire world. Our countries must be friends with each other, just like they are now. I like Putin's current policy toward Turkey. Strong economic ties bring about mutual friendship and other positive things. I want these ties to get stronger in the future. Now our countries cancelled visa requirements for short term visits. We have a free flow of people between our countries. If we will continue to develop our relations in a positive way, it will ensure our future peaceful cooperation and friendship. When the economy is doing well, long term peace follows. Good economy means good stewardship of your own land. If both of our countries will be strong and will like each other, the other countries will start to treat us in the same way.
Miss Hurriyet, do you believe that humanity has a future?
Of course, I do. God has enough goodness for everyone. There are a lot of good people out there. If the positive and intelligent people will show the world their good example of how to live, then goodness and sensibility will prevail. If the good people will be at least as organized and as bold as the bad people, then our planet will have a bright future ahead. I believe that ultimately, good people will prevail.
What was the philosophy of Khodja Ahmet Yessevi? You named the International Turkic University after him, as well as several cultural and charitable organizations. We know that he wrote his spiritual poems in Turkic. Today, many people revere him, considering him a symbol of cultural tolerance.
His philosophy was to love man. He was against any kind of mistreatment of fellow human beings. He said that God loves him who speaks softly and gently. Ahmet Yessevi preached against the abuse of any human being, whether Christian, Muslim, or whoever. In his writings he said, "Do not make other people suffer. Love the fellow man. Remember that every person is created by God. Love all of God's creation." This was his message to people.
Humanity is undergoing a very deep and serious political, economical, and social crisis. I consider this as a reflection of the global spiritual crisis. We cannot overcome these crises without first dealing with the root problem. What would you say to the modern human being in regards to the current situation in the world?
People must learn how to love each other and think of each other in a positive way. People must learn a more humane way of doing things. Knowledge is precious. We all have to share knowledge with each other. Not to share this knowledge is a sin. If people will uphold good and noble principles, if they will be kind to each other, then such principles will rule our lives. Selfish and egotistic humanity will vanish. The society will be freed of such a burden. Everything will work out if there will be cooperation and mutual respect and love. Love is the foundation of all things. I am talking about the divine love which penetrates the human heart. If people will look at each other from this angle, then there will be peace on earth, friendship, and good relations between countries.
Would you like to say a few words about our magazine, since you are already familiar with its objective?
You have started a journey with good and pure intentions. May God help you to reach your goals. The intent to start something new means that you are already half way there.
There is a similar Sumerian proverb to that effect.
If you thought of doing something today, you will start doing it tomorrow. If you started a journey with pure motives, your enterprise will be successful. You have pure motives. You have a wholehearted desire to serve the humanity. This makes me very happy. Congratulations on the new beginning! We will help you in any way we can. I hope, others will help you as well. This will be like a snowball effect. When you start rolling the snowball down the hill, it keeps growing until it turns into a huge ball. In the same way, your project will attract the surrounding world. It will keep growing and improving. I look at this new magazine with a positive attitude. I like it. May God help you to realize all of your goals!
Thank you very much! We are very grateful to you.