Turkey’s Unknown Parliament
THE GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF TURKEY IS THE QUINTESSENTIAL SYMBOL OF THE REPUBLIC AS WELL AS BEING THE COUNTRY’S LEGISLATIVE BODY. WE HAD A PLEASANT CONVERSATION ABOUT SOME OF ITS MORE UNUSUAL ASPECTS WITH ITS SECRETARY-GENERAL, DR. İRFAN NEZIROĞLU.
Q:How well is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey known?
A:The doors of the parliament building are wide open to the general public. Not only that but we have launched a number of initiatives to promote the parliament and give everyone a chance to visit it at least once. Through a collaboration with the universities, we are inviting students to the parliament and telling them about its structure and the legislative process, as well as encouraging academic studies about the Grand National Assembly.
Q:In what areas are the Grand National Assembly’s cultural activities concentrated?
A:Among our departments, that of Museology and Promotion is responsible for preserving the valuable aspects of our history and culture. And the Department of National Palaces works to promote and preserve historic venues such as pavilions and mansions.
Q:You are also engaged in social responsibility projects, I believe.
A:Yes, we have many projects that have won awards from various foundations and non-governmental organizations. Our efforts to support the Clothing, Book and Toy Bank and to support animal shelters with food scraps are particularly noteworthy. We have also realized a large number of projects for the physically handicapped, including handicapped access to the parliament building.
Q:Do you have a collaboration with Turkish Airlines?
A:Yes, we do. We make sure that Turkish Airlines’ foreign passengers who fly to Turkey from abroad and change planes here can visit the palaces, pavilions and other venues that are under parliamentary jurisdiction, such as Dolmabahçe Palace, Yıldız Tile and Porcelain Factory and the Hereke Silk Weave Factory.
TODAY’S PARLIAMENT BUILDING
The monumental main parliament building was designed by the Austrian architect, Prof. Clemens Holzmeister. In the center of the building’s front facade, and flanked by columns with star and crescent motifs, is a bronze door where the Speaker of Parliament and the President of Turkey enter. The interwoven straw motif symbolizes the unity of the state. Inside the building is a bronze door known as the “Drop-etched” or “Cluster of Grapes” door, which is drop-etched with motifs symbolizing the 16 great Turkish states founded by Turks before the Republic of Turkey. Behind the speaker’s podium in the Hall of the General Assembly is an inscription which is synonymous with the Parliament: “Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people”. The 16 large crystal chandeliers hanging here are further symbols of the historic 16 Turkish states.