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‘Titanic sinking, as the orchestra plays on’: Turkey’s former ambassador to the United States

Politics Commentary

‘Titanic sinking, as the orchestra plays on’: Turkey’s former ambassador to the United States

Grèce : de violents incendies continuent de ravager le pays, des milliers de personnes ont été évacuées

Turkey, as it stands, is like a ship that has lost its course in a stormy sea, Turkey’s former ambassador to the United States Namık Tan said.

“Anyone who knows a little history is well aware that it is difficult for the captain to save this ship from running aground. As in the disaster of the Titanic, the public watches the final performance of the ship’s orchestra in desperation,” the retired diplomat said in an article he penned for Yetkin Report on Monday.

Over the last two weeks, devastating forest fires have wreaked havoc on tens of thousands of hectares of forest in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions, killing eight people and forcing thousands to flee.

“The only purpose of the captain is to keep the ship afloat until the storm passes, but he doesn’t care about the heavy damage the storm has done to it,” Tan said in criticism of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

The Turkish government has disappointed and left in pain its citizens waiting for help amid the wildfires raging over Turkey’s southwest since July 28, according to the former ambassador.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which had lost its institutional identity and assumed the appearance of a foreign commissariat of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party, also failed to show a serious presence in the evaluation and organisation of international aid offers, regarding the fires, Tan said.

“I am deeply saddened to see that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of which I am honoured to be a member and to which I have served for nearly forty years, is being brutally used for ideological purposes,” he said.

Professional cadres of the ministry are being systematically replaced by ex-politicians, according to Tan, who warns that such appointments, which go beyond reasonable limits, are wrong and will come at heavy costs in Turkey’s foreign policy in the future.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is gradually losing its weight and priority in the eyes of the diplomats of foreign countries working in Turkey,” he said.

Tan also criticised Çavuşoğlu for taking part in the political team formed to fight the fires and acting as a second interior minister during the crises. 

“The primary duty of a foreign minister is to produce concrete solutions to current political problems in our international relations,” Tan said. “It is difficult to understand why a foreign minister focuses on matters beyond his primary responsibilities at a time when an unbelievable inconsistency dominates our foreign policy, when we are experiencing a serious drift in almost every issue, and the huge problems with many countries in the international arena are waiting to be solved.’’

Çavuşoğlu’s most fundamental duty should be to get his ministry out of this narrow lane of domestic politics and focus on thinking about the global agenda as soon as possible, according to the former diplomat.

According to Tan, Çavuşoğlu strives to keep the morale of the crew and passengers high by giving the message,” We are strong and capable of overcoming any challenge,” but Turkey “shouldn’t be a paper tiger.”

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