When US Vice President Biden ran out of money
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, whom we are hosting in Istanbul today, lost his 46-year-old son to cancer last May. When his son Beau was diagnosed with cancer, he was the attorney general of Delaware. Because he was to resign from his post and lose his salary, Joe Biden and his wife Jill thought over what they would do to finance the treatment costs. When they could not figure out what they would do, they decided to sell the house they were residing in.
When U.S. President Barack Obama heard this, he told Biden, “Don’t sell your house. Promise me not to sell your house; I will give you the necessary money, whenever you need it.”
The person who got sick was the attorney general of a U.S. state, his father was the U.S. vice president and they were thinking of selling their house to finance medical costs.
Apparently they made their living with their salaries; they never received any commissions, etc. The U.S. president, who was trying to help his friend, was not saying, “Let me make a phone call to a bank so they can arrange a cheap loan for you.” He did not even think about it; he offered to lend the money himself.
It never crossed their minds to ask for money from the businessmen who earn a lot from state tenders. They did not form a “pool” or accept “sponsors.”
These kinds of politicians exist in the world.
Gifts from the Saudi King
For years, I have been after the gifts given to our state officials by foreign dignitaries; I lost my breath in the effort. I have arrived nowhere.
An anecdote from Turkey’s former ambassador to Belgrade, Süha Umar: When Turkish President Abdullah Gül was to visit Belgrade, the ambassador saw Serbian President Boris Tadic beforehand to inform him it was customary for us to present a gift, and whether there were any limitations to it. Tadic told the ambassador the value of the gift should not exceed $50; anything above that would be displayed in the showcase in the lobby. He said he was interested in architecture and a book not exceeding that value would be welcomed.
By Turkish law, any gift or grant of any kind from a foreign statesman must be declared and handed over to its related institutions in one month if its value exceeds 10 times the minimum wage. If a gift is received overseas, then this gift has to be declared within 10 days of return to Turkey otherwise a jail sentence is in question.
For years, I have been seeking the fate of the gifts given by the Saudi King to our statesmen and their spouses. I have not received a reply yet.
We learned from a discussion in Italy that the Saudis give gifts to everyone in an official delegation.
While reading the memories of Ambassador Umar, I thought over what it meant to be a “great state.”
Serbia is a smaller state compared to us but as you see, it has solid customs and leaders that are keen to abide by the rules.
Maybe one day we will have some of them here.