When Turkey was given the go-ahead in December to start accession proceedings with the European Union later this year, many observers assumed the defensive rhetoric of the country's nationalists would die a rapid death. But if a recent wave of politically rooted television series is anything to go by, Turkey's attempts to reach out to the west may have spawned a nationalistic backlash. Take last week's episode of Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of the Wolves), a drama on the Show TV channel whose savvy and violent portrayal of mafia-state links has kept it at the top of ratings charts for months. The story travels to the Turkish enclave of northern Cyprus, separated from the rest of the island since the Turkish army invaded in 1974. 'Why is it that the Europeans are trying so hard to reunite the island?' asks one of the characters, at the foot of the memorial to Turks killed during the invasion and the inter-ethnic violence that preceded it. 'The west wants to hand Cyprus over to Greece,' replies Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, his cameo performance voicing views honed over decades. 'We are not handing ourselves over. That is our national trial.' Not to be outdone, Show TV's competitor, ATV, has struck on a theme potentially even more explosive - the Armenians. Clearly referring to a wave of assassinations of Turkish diplomats by Armenian terrorists in the 1980s, its new series Eylul (September) depicts the murder of a Turkish ambassador to the Czech Republic. Before shooting, the gunman ostentatiously kisses a cross he wears. While he believes it would be wrong to attribute the success of these series to their ideological content, media analyst Haluk Sahin is convinced they reflect a growing aspect of the Turkish zeitgeist. 'In the post-Vietnam years, Americans turned to Rambo to protect them from Asiatics and ugly, bearded Muslims trying to do terrible things to them,' he argues. 'Nobody likes to be disliked. Why would Turks not be angry and frustrated by the barrage of accusations directed against them, especially during the EU harmonisation process?' Historian Cemil Kocak believes it is no coincidence that ATV's Armenian drama is set to run through next month, when Armenians throughout the world will be remembering the 90th anniversary of the start of a genocidal campaign against them by the rulers of the Ottoman empire in which up to 1.5 million Armenians died. 'It's been clear since last December's successful EU accession talks that Turkish nationalists would treat the year 2005 as a year of revenge,' he says. 'Perhaps even more than Cyprus, the Armenian issue is a very efficient way of pushing the Turkish public to oppose any opening up to the EU.'