Swedish Embassy honors Ottoman idea of Ombudsman on 300th anniversary

Swedish Embassy honors Ottoman idea of Ombudsman on 300th anniversary

The Embassy of Sweden, where the institution of the ombudsman first originated based on an idea picked up during a visit to the Ottoman Empire, hosted senior officials from the Ombudsman of Turkey, on the 300th anniversary of the foundation of the institution.

“It is a pleasure for me today to honor the Swedish Ombudsman system, an important pillar of our democratic system, which on this day celebrates 300 years,” Ambassador Lars Wahlund said Oct. 25 during a meeting hosted at the Embassy residence.

“The Ombudsman institution is an idea that our King Charles XII picked up here in the Ottoman Empire, whilst visiting with the Sultan in 1713. This enlightened idea has since grown into one of the more fundamental institutions in our democracy. And in March a modern Turkish Ombudsman became operational here in Ankara, as a part of the Turkish-EU rapprochement process, strongly supported by Sweden. So it is a pleasure for me to note that Turkey has come full circle and that our good relations, then and now, have contributed to this,” Wahlund said, as he hosted three Ombudspersons of Turkey, accept Chief Ombudsman Nihat Ömeroğlu. Senior officials from the Justice Ministry of Turkey and Finland’s Ambassador to Turkey Nina Vaskunlahti also joined the meeting.

“The Ombudsman Institution of Turkey has become active in 2013 and has been the address for more than 6,000 applications by Turkish citizens since March 29, 2013. Our institution’s work has also been praised in the European Union Progress Report. As the latest member of the European Ombudsman family, we would like to work more closely with our European counterparts. We believe that common projects with the Swedish Ombudsman will further strengthen the close relationship between our two countries,” Ombudsman Serpil Çakın said.

From Edirne to Sweden

The Swedish Ombudsman system was instituted on Oct. 26, 1713 as a result of a decision by King Charles XII. Living for a few years in Bender, and visiting the Ottoman Sultan in his summer palace Demirtaş in today’s Edirne, Charles XII noted that the Sultan had an adviser close to him, to whom the people could come and communicate their comments and complaints about how the laws were followed in the empire. As Charles XII travelled and fought away from Sweden for long stretches of time, he realized he needed to have such a person, and institution, at home. After a formal decree, the institution of Ombudsman was created – an institution that has since been developed and shaped into a Swedish trademark, almost, internationally. The idea however, originated with the Ottoman Sultan, 300 years ago.