SURPRISE RESIGNATION AFTER WASHINGTON MEETING SENDS SHOCKWAVES
on Dec 10th, 2009
Former US President George W Bush (L) meets with Nabi Sensoy in 2006.
ANKARA (Hurriyet)-The sudden resignation of veteran Turkish diplomat
Nabi Sensoy before his tenure in Washington was set to expire in
early 2010 has spurred questions about a potential rift between the
Turkish government and its diplomats. Retired ambassadors contacted
by the Daily News say the government has failed to give credit to
Sensoy’s nearly four-decade-long diplomatic career.
Sensoy resigned in the wake of a critical summit between Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama
in Washington on Monday.
"The position taken by the Foreign Ministry is against its ethics and
traditions," Nuzhet Kandemir, Turkey’s former ambassador to Washington,
told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
"With his nearly 40-year experience and diplomatic career both in
the Foreign Ministry and the Presidency, Mr. Sensoy is a respected
personality who knows very well how to organize and implement
high-level visits," Kandemir said.
On Tuesday, Sensoy requested to return to his post in the ministry.
His request was immediately accepted, the Foreign Ministry said in a
written statement late Wednesday that fell short of clarifying what
prompted the top diplomat to resign just a few months before his
tenure was due to expire in the first half of 2010.
"Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu should explain to the public the
real truths behind the resignation of a veteran ambassador who has
been unfairly incriminated," retired Ambassador Inal Batu told the
Behind the scenes, Sensoy’s resignation reportedly came after an
argument with Davutoglu, who was offended because he was excluded from
the Erdogan-Obama meeting in the White House. The foreign minister
is said to have accused Sensoy of not fulfilling the request from
Ankara that Davutoglu be part of the meeting.
"I don’t want to make a comment," Sensoy said when asked by the
Turkish Dogan news agency why he had resigned.
Well-placed sources said Davutoglu had requested that the White House
meeting be in a four-way format known in diplomatic jargon as "one plus
one," which includes two countries’ leaders and foreign ministers, and
told the ambassador to convey that request to the U.S. administration.
The meeting in Washington, however, did not take place in the expected
format. The exclusion of foreign ministers from Obama-Erdogan meeting
led to an argument between the ambassador and Davutoglu, who asked
Sensoy why the meeting was not held in the four-way format. Davutoglu
noted that the meeting in Ankara during Obama’s first overseas trip
in April included the foreign ministers, Hurriyet said.
According to sources, Sensoy told the minister that the request could
not be conveyed and said, "You can dismiss me if you like."
In the back corridors, there has been speculation that Sensoy was
reluctant to stay on as ambassador after the tense dialogue with his
minister and asked if he could return to the Foreign Ministry.
Former ambassador Kandemir, who served in Washington between 1989
and 1998, said Sensoy must have conveyed the minister’s request to
the U.S. administration, which likely did not accept a last-minute
change in the program. "Programs of such high-level meetings are
scheduled long before to include even minor details," he said. "The
foreign minister, as far as I can see, asked to attend the meeting
in the White House at the last minute, when the U.S. Secretary of
State was probably not in the room."
Another former ambassador, Sukru Elekdag, who served in Washington
between 1979 and 1989, declined to comment on Sensoy’s resignation,
saying that whatever he could say on the issue would be a mere
speculation. He did emphasize that, "The Turkish Embassy in Washington
is Turkey’s most important foreign mission abroad."
Retired Ambassador Batu believes the resignation was not a result of an
abrupt and unrestrained reaction on the part of Sensoy, who he called
a very experienced, balanced, mature and capable diplomat. "I think
the minister’s failure to give credit to his diplomatic expertise
became the straw that broke the camel’s back," he said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when asked about the resignation
while in Mexico, said only: "Let’s hope for the best."
In the past, the prime minister has occasionally been on bad terms
with his country’s ambassadors. At a 2006 meeting in Berlin, Erdogan
reprimanded former Turkish Ambassador to Germany Mehmet Irtemcelik,
asking why headscarf-wearing women were not allowed to receive
documents from the embassy.
After his heated words with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the
World Economic Forum early this year, Erdogan also called retired
ambassadors "monsieurs" when they criticized his outburst in Davos.
"I do not come from a diplomatic background. I am a person who came
from politics," he told his party’s group meeting after the Davos
crisis. "I don’t know the tradition of those diplomats and especially
monsieurs. Indeed, I don’t want to know."
Born in Istanbul in 1945, Sensoy began serving in the Foreign Ministry
in 1970 and worked as private assistant in the Presidency in 1988. In
1990, he was appointed ambassador to Madrid. In 1995, he worked as
director-general at the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Policy
Planning. He served as the ministry’s deputy undersecretary in 1997
and was then appointed ambassador to Moscow in 1998. Sensoy returned
to the ministry in 2002, again working as deputy undersecretary.
He was appointed ambassador to Washington in January 2006. He was
recalled to Turkey in October 2007 after the U.S. House Committee on
Foreign Affairs passed a resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide at
the hands of the Ottoman Empire, but returned to his position shortly
afterward. He was serving as ambassador during Erdogan’s meeting with
then-U.S. President George W. Bush in November 2007 in Washington.
In a written statement, the Foreign Ministry announced that a new
ambassador to replace Sensoy would be appointed in the coming days.
After Sensoy’s return to Ankara, the ministry will be evaluating
possible candidates for the country’s leading foreign mission. In
January, all of Turkey’s ambassadors abroad are expected to come
together in the Turkish capital to discuss the country’s foreign
policy. Sensoy is also expected to attend that meeting.
The strongest candidate for the Washington embassy appears to
be Ambassador Unal Cevikoz, currently deputy undersecretary of the
Foreign Ministry. A specialist in the Caucasus region, Cevikoz is
one of the architects of the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process.
According to the decree on appointed ambassadors published in
the Official Gazette in September, Cevikoz’s position as deputy
undersecretary of the ministry has not changed. He is known to have
stayed on that position due to the ongoing normalization process
between Turkey and Armenia and was expected to be appointed to one
of the leading capitals.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress