Canadian ambassador delivers subtle Gezi messages

Canadian ambassador delivers subtle Gezi messages

Nisan Su Aras ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Canadian ambassador delivers subtle Gezi messages

Canada’s ambassador to Ankara John Holmes speaks to guests during the reception at the embassy residence.

Canadian Ambassador to Ankara John Holmes made subtle and witty comments regarding the Gezi Park protests while hosting a reception at the embassy residence in celebration of Canada Day.

The ambassador delivered a humorous speech during the reception held on June 27, while remaining within diplomatic tradition of indirectness.

“Canada is a country of democracy and of pluralism. It’s one of many reasons why nearly 300,000 people will immigrate to Canada this year alone,” Holmes said, as he initiated to talk about democratic rights and freedom.

Holmes spoke of the past year in Canada, enumerating successes as much as the challenges they faced. “In addition to natural disasters, we have also experienced political challenges, including public disturbances and riots, usually when ice hockey is involved,” he said jokingly.

“We have found a way to resolve these issues peacefully, through dialogue, understanding, tolerance and through the development of a strong, pluralistic civil society. In this way, we have strengthened our respect for fundamental freedoms, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We place these values at the core of Canadian society and in the conduct of our foreign policy. And we work with allies, friends and other states to encourage them to do the same,” Holmes added, giving a subtle yet a clear message on the Turkish government’s controversial approach in dealing with the Gezi protests.

Holmes also made an indirect reference to a recent gesture made by some attachés and their spouses by wearing red dresses to the British Embassy’s reception on June 20, making a reference to a lady wearing a red dress who became a symbol of the protests after she was photographed being exposed to tear gas in the early days of the protests in Gezi Park, marking the disproportionate police force used to crush the protests.

The Canadian ambassador said he noticed some ladies were wearing red dresses and some gentlemen red ties and that he was very appreciative of it, as red is the national color of both Turkey and Canada.

In diplomatic circles, the gesture of the attachés and their spouses during the British Embassy’s reception has been widely regarded as “inappropriate” in terms of crossing the ground rule of the embassies, which are expected to avoid direct political commentaries.