'Celikkol never wanted re-assignment'

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

By BY HERB KEINON
February 2, 2010 12:33
1 minute read.
Turkish ambassador to Israel Oguz Celikkol.

Turkish ambassador Oguz Celikkol. (photo credit: AP)

 
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The Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv denied radio reports Tuesday that ambassador 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. At the same time, she added that if indeed he were to leave Israel, this would not be because he requested the move, but rather a because of a decision made by the policy makers in Ankara.

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The Jerusalem Post has learned, however, that Celikkol expressed 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 re-gaining the respect of his interlocutors and would - as a result - not effectively be able to do his job. His top advisers have also expressed an interest in leaving.

Since the incident on January 11, Celikkol met with Defense Minster 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 political tensions between the two countries were resolved over the issue.

According to Army Radio, Ayalon on Tuesday expressed his “personal sorrow” over Celikkol’s reported request to be re-located. Ayalon said his protest to the Turkish television show was not directed personally at Celikkol, that he had apologized personally to him, and that therefore, "I don't see any reason for this move."

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