'Celikkol never wanted re-assignment'

Turkish embassy denies reports; 'Post': Envoy mulled leaving after hazing.

By BY HERB KEINON
February 3, 2010 00:41
1 minute read.
Turkish ambassador to Israel Oguz Celikkol.

Turkish ambassador Oguz Celikkol. (photo credit: AP)

The Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv denied radio reports on Tuesday that Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, who was publicly hazed by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon last month, has asked to be reassigned elsewhere.

One official at the embassy said she was “surprised” by the reports, and that Celikkol did not ask for a new posting. She added that if indeed he were to leave Israel, this would not be because he requested the move, but rather because of a decision by the policy makers in Ankara.

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The story apparently began when an Israeli and Turkish diplomat had a conversation in Europe, and discussed the ambassadorial opening in a Turkish embassy in a key capital in Central Europe. When one of the diplomats said that this might be a good job for Celikkol, the report of that conversation came back to Jerusalem and the story took on a life of its own.

The Jerusalem Post has learned, however, that Celikkol did indeed express an interest in leaving Israel soon after Ayalon – who called Celikkol in for a meeting to protest a virulently anti-Israeli television show – was seen breaking diplomatic protocol and instructing cameramen to film the ambassador sitting on a low stool, with no food and only an Israeli flag on the table.

The Post has learned that Celikkol felt that there was “no way back” from that insult, since he would have a hard time regaining the respect of his interlocutors and would – as a result – not be able to do his effectively job. His top advisers have also expressed an interest in leaving.

Since the incident on January 11, Celikkol met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak during his visit to Ankara, but has not held any high level meetings in Jerusalem.

Ayalon issued an apology after the incident, following Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s threat to recall the ambassador unless tensions between the two countries were resolved over the issue.


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