Former Turkish FM's and envoys call on president to veto controversial foreign service bill

Former Turkish FM's and envoys call on president to veto controversial foreign service bill

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Former Turkish FMs and envoys call on president to veto controversial foreign service bill

Ambassadorial posts will not be reserved only for career diplomats, according to a law passed from Parliament. DAILY NEWS photo/ Selahattin SÖNMEZ

A group of 150 retired ambassadors and retired consul-generals of the Turkish Foreign Service signed a declaration July 20, which was also supported by seven former Turkish foreign ministers, to draw attention to a change in the Law on the Statute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Despite their lacking a background in the Foreign Service, those appointed as Ambassadors or Permanent Representatives would be able to serve in the highest-level positions, such as Under-secretary of State, Assistant Under-secretary of State or General Director. This means that those persons with no upbringing, training and experience in the Foreign Service tradition – and possibly not even in any other public institution – will be allowed to assume the roles of high level career diplomats who have served in the Foreign Service continuously for 20-30 years and have only succeeded in rising to prominent positions through various tests and selection procedures,” said the statement signed by 140 retired ambassadors and 10 retired consul-generals.

“This arrangement would create a duality of high-ranking administrative staff in the Ministry, i.e. the ‘externally appointed’ and the ‘career diplomats’, disrupting the long-standing, proven and established order of hierarchy. Furthermore, having increased the risk of arbitrary appointments, favoritism and reward distribution to certain individuals, it would undermine the existing staff’s motivation and trust in their own institution, thereby inflicting serious damage on the public good and national interests,” said the statement signed by retired ambassadors including Özdem Sanberk, Onur Öymen, Şükrü Elekdağ, Ercüment Yavuzalp and Nüzhet Kandemir.

Former foreign ministers who have expressed their support for the declaration included Prof. Dr. Ali Bozer, Hikmet Çetin, Mesut Yılmaz, Murat Karayalçın, Prof. Dr. Mümtaz Soysal, Prof. Dr. Şükrü Sina Gürel, Vahit Halefoğlu as well as former minister of state and minister of energy and natural resources Kamran İnan.

According to the new law, which was integrated into the “omnibus bill” voted on in the Parliament last week upon the insistence of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, ambassadorial posts at ministry headquarters will not be reserved only for career diplomats.

The law allows individuals to be appointed as ambassadors or permanent representative, without being members of the Turkish Foreign Service, to work in the Foreign Ministry and to have the same rights as career diplomats when they return to Turkey.

The system in place permitted only diplomats who had served a certain number of years to obtain the position allowing them to be appointed as ambassadors.

“It should not be forgotten that the Turkish diplomacy has achieved its respected place in the world through its well-educated and excellent career diplomats and through faithful adherence to its strong institutional structure and hierarchy of seniority,” it added.

“The Foreign Service staff members have, until now, been able to work together with ministers of political parties with various positions in the political spectrum. This is owing to the fact that they have adopted as their indispensible principle, not to make decisions on behalf of political figures, but to assist these figures in making informed decisions, by presenting them with all the necessary information and bravely advising sincere caution against certain decisions in order to prevent developments that might severely damage our nation’s interests,” said the statement.

“For centuries during the Ottoman era, and subsequently since the founding of our Republic, the members of the Turkish Foreign Service have applied their professional knowledge, institutional experience and traditions, to serve with meticulousness and sensitivity, making all kinds of sacrifices – including martyrdom – to shape and execute foreign policy objectives, in order to protect the current and future interests of the nation in every instance,” said the statement.

 “We expect our President, whom we believe has closely witnessed these qualities of the Foreign Service during his terms as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister and President, to take the necessary steps to ensure that the institutional character of the Ministry is preserved,” the statement concluded.