It’s sad to be an ambassador of Turkey


One of my favorite poets is the late Israeil poet Yehuda Amichai, whose poems I revisit from time to time. I really admire his work, they are not unlike some of Charents’ and Sevak’s work, soaked with a spirit of melancholy, sad yet life affirming and far from cynical. The reason for why I am bringing up Amichai is that as I was reading up on the latest Armenia related news several things stood apart. The very interesting Turkish ambassadors tasked with representing their country, but of late, de-presenting it by being recalled. They would make an interesting character study and here is why. Amichai has this beautiful poem called Mayor.

It’s sad to be
the mayor of Jerusalem —
it’s terrible.
How can a man be mayor of such a city?
What can he do with it?
Build and build and build.

And at night the stones of the mountains crawl down
and surround the stone houses,
like wolves coming to howl at the dogs,
who have become the slaves of man.

The Selected Poems of Yehuda Amichai, trans. and ed. by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell, (Berkley, CA: University of California Press), 35.

Now imagine you are a Turkish ambassador. It’s terrible. You are engaged in the Sisyphean struggle of lobbying, lobbying, lobbying all of which come to naught when some Swedes and Americans decide to remind you of your country’s bloody past over which you are still unrepentant, at least in the public eye, the Israelis (for their own reasons) sit you in a booster seat, the 60 Minutes and Bob Simon manhandle you, you are recalled from the four corners of the world (yes the world is flat and rectangle, just ask Tommy Friedman), one of your daughters is threatened with death over her advocacy on behalf of the despised Armenians, and then Harut Sassounian writes this snarky piece:

Thousands of articles are posted on the internet every day. But, very few make us fall off our chairs!
Last week I came across a shocking news item posted by the Turkish Forum — the largest website for Turkish news. It was titled: “Forgotten Ambassador in Sierra Leone Uses Armenian Genocide Resolution to solve his Problem.” Here is the summary in translation of that incredible article:
“In recent years, parliaments of several countries have adopted resolutions on the Armenian Genocide. In retaliation, Turkey has recalled its ambassadors from these countries. It has been revealed that some opportunistic ambassadors exploited this situation, by abusing their position.
“According to a Foreign Ministry announcement this morning, Orhan Emin Turkone, Turkey’s Ambassador in Sierra Leone for the past 12 years, has been fired for having lobbied for the passage of the Armenian Genocide bill in that country’s Parliament.
“During a press conference this morning, the Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary Ersin Ozbukey explained: ‘Recently, it came to our attention that the so-called Armenian Genocide bill was placed on the agenda of the Parliaments of Chad, Eritrea, and Djibouti. But, when we saw that this bill was unanimously adopted by the Parliament of Sierra Leone, we started suspecting that something had gone terribly wrong.’ Ozbukey added: ‘We formed an investigative committee that uncovered some interesting, but disturbing information.’
“’We confirmed that Amb. Turkone had carried out lobbying activities in favor of the Armenian Genocide bill,’ Ozbukey stated. ‘Of course, this can’t be excused, but the Ministry also has its fault in this affair. This man was abandoned and forgotten in a far away country. He got that idea, after [Turkish] Ambassadors were recalled following the adoption of the genocide resolution by other countries. Twelve years is a long time,’ Ozbukey admitted. Read more>>

It must be indeed terrible to be a Turkish ambassador, when you know you could well be a character in a Kafka or a Camus book to illustrate the absurdity of human existence. On the brighter side, it is definitely better than being Duchamp’s Fountain.

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