Over a coffee chat with ‘mon cher ami, Ekmel’

Over a coffee chat with ‘mon cher ami, Ekmel’

This is the first French headline in my life. Ekmel is, as is now known to the 75 million for two weeks, it is what his friends call Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.

“Mon cher ami” in French means “My dear friend.” In other words, when you say “mon cher” all around the world, it is understood to mean “my dear,” or maybe “sweetie.”

When you directly translate what the prime minister has said about İhsanoğlu, and actually he said, “They are all ‘mon chers’. Those ‘mon chers’ are not engaged in these kinds of activities.” What it translates into is this: “Would the [future] president be involved with such things as roads and viaducts? They are all my friends. My dearest ones do not get engaged in such affairs.”

Don’t laugh! A foreign journalist with poor Turkish and new in town could have easily translated that sentence as such. Moreover, he or she could have associated this “my dear” phrase to the previous AK Party (Justice and Development Party) – İhsanoğlu friendship, or maybe to the politeness of our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Whereas, in Turkey, “mon cher” (monşer) has a figurative meaning in Turkish as a “Western wannabes who are extremely polite.” This is because diplomats during the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the first years of the Republic spoke fluent French, had very polite manners and called their foreign colleagues “mon cher ami.”

We should all be proud now that it is not like this anymore in foreign affairs and that we are gaining major victories one after the other. But you are laughing at whatever I am saying. Look, this is not nice…

İhsanoğlu does not come from the French school. Actually, looking at his background and the positions he has occupied we can say he is closer to Arab culture. For this reason, instead of the “mon cher” the Arabic of “dear friend” could easily be used: “These sadik-i il aziz’s have nothing to do with roads, with viaducts.”

The esteemed Erdoğan likes to create nicknames: General Manager, looter, supposedly artist, mon cher…  If he had a more moderate style of speaking, we could have thought he was quite fun. As a matter of fact, I would want such a political language, where everybody would call each other by their nicknames, like the class dunce, as in the loveliness of the Turkish classic Hababam Sınıfı. Tall man, General Manager, mon cher, Brother Bülent, etc.; a more smiling, moderate and conciliatory environment, both in politics and all over the country as well.

Those who want milk in their coffee

However, as I had written before, Erdoğan is like caffeine. He keeps a person constantly awake and tense. He also has addicts.

The impression I have received from İhsanoğlu up until now – let it not be misunderstood – is that he is like milk. While you are listening to him, a relaxation radiates into your body. He is moderate, rich in content and soothing. Maybe due to these, a conservative candidate whose name is afresh, a newly learnt one (not quite so, actually) is earning sympathy from exceptionally different, moreover, incompatible segments.

I guess those who were tense and awake because of strong coffee are thinking some milk accompanying the beverage would be good for the country.

In the presidential elections, not only those who do not want coffee, but those who cannot give up the energy withdrawn from the coffee, but now want to drink it with milk may be a surprising and determining community.

And as to the mon chers... It is a tough job, what our diplomats are doing, who most often defend the interests of the country with coolness and a compulsory smile, frequently under death threats... Some of them, these treasures of ours, right now are in the hands of ISIL. These jewels, in our country where politeness and culture are not the most popular traits, are blessed with sarcastic imputations such as “mon cher” as a bonus.
As a matter of fact, seeing how İhsanoğlu, who we did not know until only two weeks ago, is being regarded as a life buoy, it is easy to understand that tranquility, politeness and a smiling face have become an absolute need for the country which is strained like a violin cord.