The congress, which started with the opening speeches of Prof. Dr. Yücel Öztürk, one of the founders and the founders of the International Platform for Eastern European Studies, and Prof. Dr. Mehmet Dursun Erdem, Rector of the International Balkan University, lasted one and a half days. Then two day trips were made. Professor Dr. Yücel Öztürk’s Opening Speech was as follows:
Mr. Ambassador, Mr. President of the Historical Society, Mr. Rector, the participants; dear guests here to follow the congress; I salute you all respectfully before starting my words.
We are on the occasion of the third congress organized by the International Platform for Eastern European Studies. The first congress of our platform, which was established with the short name “PIEES ” was realized by Kamianets Podilski National University and the second by partnerships and home ownership of Kiev Taras Sevchenko Universities. Now we are together to host our third congress with the partnership and hosting of the International Balkan University.
Honorable scientists, PIEES which concentrates its activities entirely on academic studies, brings together academics who have chosen the histories of Eastern European nations as their field of study and organizes congresses, symposiums, panels, workshops focused on Eastern European history, culture and civilization. Our platform, which aims to publish journals during its establishment, has brought the International Journal of Eastern European Studies (JIEES) to the scientific community.
Honorable scientists, especially in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe, the historical process that constitutes the infrastructure of the new nation-states is unfortunately full of disintegration, disintegration, hatred and hostility created by the last hundred years.This process constitutes a serious obstacle for the convergence of the Eastern European nations and establishing political, scientific and civil relations. Eliminating the prejudices formed by the centuries and opening the way for the establishment of healthy relations is primarily a job that academics can achieve. The PIEES structuring aims to contribute to this field at the highest academic level.
The distance covered by our platform, which is already realizing its third year, is quite satisfactory for us. PIEES was welcomed and supported with close interest between Turkish and foreign academics. Our development in the direction of institutionalization is promising. we observe academic cooperation cultural and that already exists between Turkey and Ukraine, that even gone further through our platform. The country we are in contact with at the highest level is Ukraine. I can say that we have not any difficulties in communicating with countries like Northern Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania which Muslim people live but also we have not any difficulties in communicating with countries like Hungary which advanced science Turcology and with Poland and Romania. However, I cannot make the same assessment of the three most important countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, such as Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. Our platform continues its determination and aim to communicate with these three countries at the academic level completely and is ready to make every effort in line with this understanding. We have already started negotiations for the next congress in Greece. We would be grateful to everyone who helped us with the issues I mentioned.
PIEES has been supported by the Turkish Historical Society since its establishment and has been able to make plans for the future thanks to these supports. We are able to invite foreign countrys participants thanks to the subsidies and expert instructors from Turkey are able to accommodate our congress with complacency. I would like to thank the Turkish Historical Society, Professor Refik Turan, the esteemed president of this distinguished institution. In the same framework, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Professor İbrahim Tellioğlu, our dear friend, who provided our communication with both the Balkan University and the Turkish Historical Society, and who opened the way with his experience and ideas in the planning and coordination of the congress.
I would like to express our sincere thanks to the International Balkan University. Mr. Mehmet Dursun Erdem, the rector, appreciated the importance of the current congress, and did not avoid any sacrifice in the organization and and his efford became our source of morale. my special thanks to him. Associate Professor Dr. Sener Bilalli was with us at every stage of the congress organization. and i would also like to thank dear Associate Professor Dr. Sener Bilalli. I would like to express out thanks to Seyhan Murteza İbrahimi who member of the secretariat of the PIEES for North Macedonia and which translated all Macedonian announcement about the symposium into Turkish.
Within the framework of the participation represented by Sakarya University Turcology Research, we have to mention the contributions made by the rector of Sakarya University. I would like to thank Mr. Fatih Savaşan, the rector of the university, who opened up the facilities of the university for the execution of all press works related to the Congress.
I would like to thank Mustafa Öztürk, Nuri Kavak and Orhan Kılıç, our most important power source in PIEES’s planning, idea generation and strategy determination activities and honored veteran and doyen professors and young academician participants, each of whom honored us by participating in our symposium. On this occasion, we hope that Professor Orhan Kılıç, who has suffered inconvenience due to a sudden illness, will recover his health as soon as possible.
I would like to express my gratitude to the PIEES secretariat, which is in the kitchen of PIEES at every stage, for the planning, execution and coordination of their duties. I would like to express my love to Tufan Turan for providing technical institutional structuring of PIEES, Sema Aktaş Sarı for his communication, Mehmet Kerim for his foreign language skills and Erim Vatansever for his web design and technical arrangements.
Rector of the International Balkan University. Dr. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Dursun Erdem, emphasized the importance of the congress and gave a long reactionary speech that analyzed the effects of congresses on historians. Erdem emphasized that congresses are not only events that enable the exchange of information, but also important tools that enable historians to observe the research sites themselves. Erdem pointed out the importance of seeing the research areas in addition to theoretical researches by the historian, congratulated the delegation and the participants of the congress and pointed out the importance of the continuation of these activities.
Mustafa Öztürk, one of the founders and doyen of PIEES, has graciously undertaken the congress evaluation. Mustafa Öztürk’s findings on the congress:
After The Third East European Research Congress
*Prof. Dr. Mustafa ÖZTÜRK
As shown in the general information on the official website of the Platform, the Platform of International Eastern European Studies, established by a group of volunteer colleagues in 2017, continues to work rapidly after two international congresses in Ukraine. The Third International Congress of Eastern Europe, which was carried out with the efforts of Prof Dr Yücel Öztürk and Prof Dr Nuri Kavak and his team, made a great deal of sacrifice in terms of scientific and social aspects was held on 10-12 October 2019 in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, hosted by the International Balkan University. Here, I would like to express my gratitude to all my colleagues for their great efforts in the organization of the Congress from the beginning to the last day. The Turkish Historical Society, which is our national pride and always supports scientific meetings at home or abroad, has provided very important support to our Congress. I would like to express my gratitude to Prof. Dr. Refik Turan, the President of the Institution, on behalf of myself and the Congress.
Although a short time has passed, both the three Congresses and the Journal of Eastern European Studies (JIEES), the scientific journal of the Platform and the first issue of the Platform, have seen how much has been achieved in this regard. Indeed, as known to our colleagues, there is very little studies about Eastern European research in our country, and these studies are carried out with the personal efforts of our non-institutionalized, limited number of qualified and diligent colleagues. Therefore, Eastern Europe studies will open new horizons for us not only in terms of Turkish historiography but also in general history.
One of the important deficiencies of our historiography is that we see history only from the Turkish history and we devote most of our works to this area. In fact, there is nothing strange about it, it is natural that every nation should first wonder and research its own history. But it should not be forgotten that our history is not just an event between us as a process in a family. The history of each nation has passed through interaction and struggle with neighboring countries and peoples in a long historical process. So the histories of the peoples we have relations with also concern us in the first degree. The Turks came out of their original geography and went to many continents and regions in the known old world and established relations with many nations. Note that there is no Turk in today’s Mongolia, which is our original geography. For this reason, there is no other nation in the world that changes the alphabets more than Turks. In short, there is no river where our horses are not irrigated and no soil where they do not step.
With this fact, we need to broaden our horizons and turn to general world history. In the first plan, we should concentrate on the works related to our ancient geography, our common history in neighboring geographies, the administrative, economic and social order we have established. As we all know, we need an expert in field / country historiography in our country. For example, after the deceased Kurat, a Russian historian still has not grown up. The knowledge of that period may be outdated, but new sources are emerging, young historians learn Russian, and our historians who speak languages grow. In our youth, our Russian friends at the university were regarded as communists. Our friends who studied in the Chinese Department were regarded as Maoists, those who read Persian were pro-Shah, and those who studied Arabic were regarded as reactionist. It was strange but real. However, the current possibilities have reached a level that we could not even imagine at that time. First of all, the iron curtain was demolished, universities were established in the Turkish World where even imagined is forbidden, and students and faculty members started to work there. These are very valuable developments. We also do not have a German, English, French, Italian or even Greek historian. Our Hungarian speakers do not exceed a few colleagues. In this respect, it is of great importance to educate our new generation historians and to direct students to country and regional expertise.
On the other hand, these studies will be the basis for establishing scientific collaborations with the universities and academicians in the region. Mutual collaborations, scientific studies and social relations to be developed will ensure that political relations between countries are placed on scientific foundations and some prejudices are eliminated. Man is an enemy of things he does not know and is ignorant of him. In this respect, recognition and promotion is very important in establishing relationships. As it is known, there are three stages of the development of relations between countries. The first is the scientific, educational and cultural level, the second, economic and the third political level. Without the first two, it is very difficult to establish healthy political relations.
Here, the International Platform for Eastern European Studies is more than just paving the way for the enrichment of our historiography in terms of subject matter and encouraging our young colleagues to fulfill the first level in establishing and developing relations between countries. The activities and effects of this Platform, which was established with completely scientific goals without any background calculations, will reach out to our colleagues in all Eastern Europe and even beyond, like the rings emitted by a stone thrown into the lake, thus enabling the establishment of wider cooperation.
We met most of our colleagues in Istanbul on 8 October and we went to Skopje on 9 October. Some of our friends joined us in the following days due to their schedule.
The two-day Congress began Thursday (October 10th) in the halls of the International Balkan University in the morning. Since the program is on the main page of the platform, we do not want to repeat it here. The program started with the opening speech of Congress President Prof. Dr. Yücel Öztürk. Yücel summarized the short history and aims of the congress. Later, Rector Prof. Dr. Mehmet Dursun Erdem made the opening speech. Although it was in the program, the President of the Turkish Historical Society, Prof. Dr. Refik Turan, could not attend because of another program. After the opening speeches, “Fire and Water” art exhibition prepared by Emsele Bal and Songül Ergün from Sakarya University Faculty of Fine Arts was opened. This exhibition was an important artistic activity that enriched the Congress program. The opening session was in the large hall.
A total of 53 papers were presented to the program that continued in the three halls in the afternoon and the following day. Apart from Turkey, scientists from Northern Macedonia, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Albania, Italy, Kosovo and Qatar joined in the Congresses.
The host Northern Macedonia, was the country which most participants with 15 papers after Turkey. Prof Dr Özer Ergenç, Prof Dr Orhan Kılıç, Prof Dr Beşir Aşan and Prof Dr İbrahim Tellioğlu could not attend due to their special excuses.
On the other hand, Ferhat Turanlı, Feridun Emecen, Yusuf Oğuzoğlu, Azmi Özcan, Hakan Kırımlı, Hikmet Öksüz, Nedim İpek, Enis Şahin, Behçet Kemal Yeşilbursa and Mehmet İnbaşı who has never left us alone contributed to our Congress. I would like to express my gratitude to all the participants who cannot be mentioned here. Because scientific meetings are meaningful with the participation of scientists.
he main topic of the congress was to explore, identify and discuss the sources of Eastern European history. Indeed, the Congress program presented important papers on resources. In this context, from Eastern European sources, Crimean Shari Registers, Ottoman Archives, Düvel-i Ecnebiye Notebooks, Ahkâm Notebooks, Military History Archives, Byzantine resources of the Caspian Khanate, Tatar Documents issued in Hungarian cities, and Mühimmme Notebooks covered important place about the source analysis and presentation papers.
On the other hand, valuable notifications were given about the administrative, economic and social situation of the region, identity, starboard administration and perception of history. After the sessions until the second day noon, the general evaluation session was started. The evaluation session was held with the participation of Mustafa Öztürk, Yücel Öztürk, Hikmet Öksüz, Maria Ivanics and Hakan Kırımlı because Prof Dr Özer Ergenç and İbrahim Tellioğlu could not attend.
During the evaluation session, all the speakers stressed that the establishment of this platform and congresses are accurate and important in every respect. For this reason, with the support of the congresses and the journal published in the first issue, a consensus was reached on the continuation of these works. As in the previous congresses, CIEES 2019 was informed about the publication of the proceedings and how long the written notices were sent by the participants. However, an article call was made for the December issue of the platform magazine JIEES. Thus, our third Congress ended successfully.
Since the afternoon was free, the Congress Secretariat organized a trip to Ohrid. Both this trip and Pristina and Prizren trips after the Congress were optional. Because we had friends who did not fit the program and had to return immediately after the congress.
In the afternoon we moved to Ohrid. The 170 km-long Skopje-Ohrid road was entirely mountainous and wooded, offering a wonderful view. Personally, I confess that I went to the Balkans for the first time, to see and feel what we read was very different. From Skopje to Ohrid, there were minarets on the right and left sides of the village. According to the local guide, all villages have Muslim populations and live with Christians. The structures of the villages were also modern. According to the information given here, most of the people here work as workers abroad and all of them build houses in their villages. It is possible to consider this as investing in the homeland of the people. We also noticed that the Albanian flag was raised in front of some houses. Some of them had the American flag. Hanging the flag of Albania was understandable because it came from a tribal understanding. But we didn’t understand how to hang the American flag. According to the information, these are citizens working in the United States. This was something we could not comprehend.
The city on the shore of Lake Ohrid was well maintained. Before entering the city, the famous monastery of St. Naum to the south of the lake was visited. Then, we came to the city and visited the city within the framework of free time until evening and returned to Skopje around 10:00 at night. The hotel was on the banks of the Vardar River, right next to the Stone Bridge built during the period of Sultan Mehmet II. Opposite the hotel is Skopje Castle. The western side of the river is modern and mostly inhabited by Christian populations. The eastern part of the city is formerly known as Skopje. The historical texture of the city, mosques, masjids and bazaars are in this part. An estimated one in three can speak Turkish. We ate our meals at the restaurants in this region. Famous dishes are meatballs and dried beans. Pastries are very common, but I have to admit it isn’t as tasty as they say. Maybe he didn’t address me.
Having dinner in two or three places in the evening to read the evening prayer, gave us a different excitement. We felt ourselves in any city in our country. The majority of Muslim people are Albanians. Of course there are Turks. However, national identity seems to have surpassed Islam. This is more felt in Kosovo. Turkish speakers are not Ottoman admirers. From time to time we witnessed this in conversations. This is probably an ideological view that is incompatible with history, such as ignoring the Ottomans in the construction of identity. However, the environmental factor, the historical ground, makes it impossible to erase the traces of the Ottomans.
Denar / Dinar, which has national money, is in circulation in Macedonia. 1 Euro was 61-62 Dinars. With our money (Lira) 10 Dinar is worth 1 TL and in Kosovo the Euro is in circulation. Prices were not overly expensive. Ankara and Istanbul prices were more or less the same. For example, a meatball or meat menu was around 8-10 Euros. Star hotels on the other hand were at the same price level.
Trip to Prishtina- Tomb of Hüdavendigar and to Prizren
According to the program, we had a trip to Prishtina and Prizren on 12 October. After about half an hour by bus, we arrived at the Kosovo border. After the passport controls, we reached Prishtina with a journey of 80 km. The layout of the motorways caught our attention when we crossed the border with Kosovo. We were proud to learn that the great highway was built by the Turkish company. Kosovo is not a city, it is the name of the country. However, there is a village called Kosovo between Pristina and Prizren. The city was more modern, well-maintained. At first glance, it appears that Kosovo has developed more than Macedonia. Ottoman mosques were visited in Pristina. Even someone was in the repair, the construction guard allowed us, opened the doors, we visited. All works in both Kosovo and Macedonia have been repaired and restored by TİKA. It is not possible to disagree with the work of TİKA.
Our main target in Prishtina was the tomb where Sultan Murad I, whom they called the Mashhad-i Hüdavendigâr, was martyred and his internal organs were buried. We visited the tomb which is right next to the city. According to the procedure and etiquette of the visit, we performed the Qur’an recitation and prayers. Beside the tomb, the two-storey building, which was built as a guest house by Abdulhamid II, was repaired and turned into a museum. In the museum, there are various documents and old photographs of Sultan Mehmet Reşad’s trip to Rumelia, which includes Thessaloniki and Kosovo. Then we moved to Prizren.
As far as I remember, the distance between Prishtina and Prizren is about 100 km. was. Unlike Macedonia, Kosovo is a plain. It is not possible to remember the war in Kosovo in this plain. Muslim villages stretched along the way. As it known, the people of Kosovo are Muslim Albanians. It was informed that there were Christians in the villages and towns. This population characteristic extends immediately to Albania in the west. Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia have a dense Muslim population. Of course it is not right to consider all Muslims Albanian or Bosniak. It is known that there is a dense Turkish population in the region.
Almost everyone we talked to had a strong bond with Turkey. Either their relatives were in Istanbul, Bursa or Sakarya, either studying at a university or doing business.
Prizren is a wonderful city. We all looked like Amasya. A river passes under the castle and the whitewashed tile houses here are just like Amasya on the Kızılırmak River. We also visited Turkish works here. Bazaar, mosque, baths… We had dinner in a restaurant that our friends had determined before and we moved to return. But there was another place to be seen, which was Namazgâh. We visited the Namazgâh, also known as Kesik Mosque. Only one minaret, a stone pulpit and an area not too big is left. Of course it is surrounded by roads and buildings. And we took the bus back to Skopje. After the customs controls of the two sides of the border, we went to our hotel around 11 pm.
As can be seen from this short narrative, the International Third Eastern European Studies Congress has been very successful. We deemed it appropriate to give the general evaluation of the congress under two headings.
- The congress brought a new dimension to our historiography with the determination of the area. In this country, which is really untouched, attention has been turned to the attention of our colleagues. Although the main subject of the last two congresses is devoted to the field of resources and methods, it cannot be said that all the sources of the field have been identified and analyzed. If so, resources should be included in future congresses. Although our new generation of young colleagues are doing successful work in the field. Moreover, we have a considerable number of colleagues who learn regional languages. At this point, it is of great importance that our instructors guide young people as regional and country experts. There is such an understanding of history in the background of this Congress. A distant future must be built as a result of our academic responsibilities, without the need for any direction.
- he second dimension of the congress is the meeting of local and foreign scientists to meet and establish relationships. Most of the participants were seeing each other for the first time. During the congress, scientists from both Macedonia and different countries established warm relations with each other. They made plans for the future.
In short, a very useful Congress was held, both scientifically and socially. This Congress is now established. This establishment should be maintained at all costs. There is no doubt that this establishment will continue, as the founding team has no background concerns and is fully considered for scientific needs.
Finally; I would like to express my gratitude Prof. Dr. Yücel Öztürk, Nuri Kavak who worked with great sacrifice in the intellectual, scientific and social preparations of this Congress in all the works and Turkish Historical Society and Mr. President Prof. Dr. Refik Turan who have always supported us and Prof. Dr. Mehmet Dursun Erdem, the Rector the International Balkan University in Skopje, and who opened their doors to us and our young friends who know their great efforts in organizing the congress.
*Izmir Democracy University Faculty of Arts and Sciences Department of History, firstname.lastname@example.org – İZMİR