Thursday, September 24, 2009
ANKARA – HÃ¼rriyet Daily News
Turkey misses the chance to be represented at UN culture agency after the government fails to field author-singer ZÃ¼lfÃ¼ Livaneli as a candidate. Some argue the reason is Ankara’s promise to Egypt, while others claim it is because of Livaneli’s political affiliation. Veteran diplomat İnal Batu says no matter if it is a political motive or willful negligence Turkey has lost a significant chance
As a Bulgarian diplomat, who was also a surprise candidate, emerges as the first female to head the United Nations agency for culture and education, Turkey’s move to block a U.S.-backed Turkish candidate to avoid upsetting ties with Egypt has drawn adverse criticism.
Turkish diplomats, contacted by the HÃ¼rriyet Daily News after the vote, said the result had nothing to do with Turkey as it did not take part in the executive council picking the winner. While declining to elaborate on the policy pursued by the government before the election process, they also abstained from revealing which candidate Ankara supported behind the scenes.
“That is a shame on the part of Turkey. Do we have the luxury to shun such a senior position, when the country has shown hardly any influence in the international arena, except for securing a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the first time in 60 years and a couple of military positions?” said veteran diplomat İnal Batu, former deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP.
“If I were in Parliament, I would submit a written inquiry for the ruling party to explain their reasons,” he told the Daily News.
Despite overwhelming support of the United States, the Turkish government refused to field author-singer ZÃ¼lfÃ¼ Livaneli for UNESCO director-general on the argument that it was the Arab world’s turn to hold the post. The refusal was interpreted as an explicit support for the Egyptian candidate, Education Minister Faruq Hosni, who drew ire for controversial remarks that he would burn any Israeli books he found in Egyptian libraries. Hosni later apologized for his statement.
The Bulgarian diplomat won the race against the Egyptian candidate by 31 to 27 votes in the final round, becoming the first Eastern European to lead UNESCO.
“There are plenty of mistakes in this case. Turkey backed a wrong candidate and that candidate failed to win,” said Batu.
In comments following the vote, Livaneli, UNESCO’s goodwill ambassador since 1996, said in a critical tone, it was the first time ever that a government opposed its own citizen’s candidacy.
“I congratulate Turkish officials for their foresight,” Livaneli said. “Mrs. Bokova must be grateful to the government of the Turkish Republic for this big accomplishment because our presidency and government refused insistent requests from Western countries and UNESCO regarding my candidacy, arguing it was the Arabs’ turn and instead supported Egyptian candidate Faruq Hosni. However, everyone knew Hosni, making such remarks about burning books if necessary, would be unable to head a culture and education agency like UNESCO.”
Some other allegations disclosed that the government refused to give a nod to Livaneli’s candidacy because of his political affiliation as former Istanbul CHP deputy. Livaneli had resigned from the party in early 2005.
“Livaneli is an invaluable intellectual. He quit the CHP but he is also against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. No matter if it is a political motive or willful negligence, Turkey has lost a significant chance to improve its image,” said Batu.
ZÃ¼lfÃ¼ Livaneli is one of the most important figures in the cultural, artistic and political life of Turkey.I am a very big fan of him. Now I can't decide, should I feel angry because my government supported an Arab minister instead of our own man in the international arena,or should I feel angry because my government once again supported an open anti-semite??