The foreign minister’s poetic voyage to Kirkuk

The foreign minister’s poetic voyage to Kirkuk

It is my guess that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will go down in history as Turkey’s worst foreign minister. The esteemed professor, who cannot seem to quit being amateurish, has made some basic mistakes. He confuses being active with being effective, being popular in the media with being influential, and being a one-man show with diplomacy. 

He is probably among the top ranks of foreign ministers for collecting Miles&Smiles points, but don’t seek his name near the top of lists showing successes per mile. 

After serving as an adviser to the prime minister for seven years, Davutoğlu became foreign minister in 2009. He said he would adopt the doctrine of “zero problems with neighboring countries.” However, after three years in office, the picture is to the contrary: Turkish relations with Israel are a catastrophe, with Syria they are non-existent. With Iran they are cold as ice, and with Iraq they are close to the breaking point. 

Davutoğlu’s most recent mistake was to visit Kirkuk without informing the Iraqi government. According to the rules of diplomacy, a minister who wants to pay an official visit to another country has to get permission from and inform the host country about the cities he plans to visit. Ignoring this rule is diplomatic impertinence and arrogance. Turkey does not even allow ambassadors in Ankara to visit the country’s interior provinces without notice and permission. 

When the dream of visiting Kirkuk came true 

Davutoğlu went to Kirkuk without informing the Baghdad government and made unbelievable statements there. 

After saying, “This is one of the happiest days of my life; today my dream of meeting you in Kirkuk has come true,” he read a poem about Kirkuk. Then he said, “As poetry is essential for an Âşık, so Kirkuk is to us.” Probably no other foreign minister in world history has ever combined literature and diplomacy in such a ridiculous way. 

Imagine if U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were to pay a visit to Turkey, and headed to Diyarbakır without informing the Foreign Ministry. If she told Mayor Osman Baydemir, “This is one of the happiest days of my life, today my dream of meeting you in Diyarbakır has come true,” and then read a poem, what would happen? 

I can tell you what would happen: As soon as she returned to her country, they would fetch her from the airport and directly send her to a hospital in an ambulance, in order to determine if she was out of her mind. 

Turkey insistently repeats that it gives importance to Iraq’s territorial integrity. But it does not take Baghdad seriously, and has maintained contact with the autonomous Kurdish region as though it is a state. Our country treats the Kurdish region as a state, while treating the Shiites ruling Iraq as scapegoats. Saying “Iraq’s territorial integrity is important to us,” and treating the Kurds as a sovereign state at the same time goes against Turkey’s stated Iraq policy. 

Assigning an amateurish person with a big ego to the Foreign Ministry would be dangerous for any country, but is especially so for those located in the Middle East.

*Metin Münir is a columnist for daily Milliyet, in which this article appeared Aug. 9. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.