Turkish ambassador Oguz Celikkol.
(photo credit: AP)
Turkish ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol has been recalled and will be replaced after less than a year in office, Ankara announced on Sunday.
According to Turkish reports, Celikkol's replacement will be Kerim Uras, a local diplomat who is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs. The reason for the move was not disclosed.
In January, reports surfaced that Celikkol asked to be recalled after a humiliating public debacle in which he was seated on a lower chair than that of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and another Israeli diplomat when he the ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry. The Jerusalem Post
reported in February that Celikkol had never not requested reassignment, but had said that there was "no way back" from the disrespectful insult.
During the controversial meeting, Ayalon had chastised Celikkol over a Turkish prime-time TV show in which Mossad agents were depicted as child-killers and kidnappers. Celikkol was seated on a low stool, with no food and only an Israeli flag on the table.
Ayalon later issued a formal apology, following Turkish President Abdullah Gul's threat to recall the ambassador unless tensions between the two countries were resolved, but the damage was apparently done: Celikkol will not be completing his first year as ambassador.
Since the incident on January 11, Celikkol met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak during his visit to Ankara, but did not hold any high level meetings in Jerusalem.
Relations between Israel and Turkey have been on a constant downward slope since mediated talks between Jerusalem and Damascus were cut off due to Arab and Turkish outrage over last winter's IDF Operation Cast Lead.