Turkish Ministry Expected to Replace Ambassador to Israel

The Turkish Foreign Ministry is expected to name a new ambassador to Israel to replace envoy Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, Turkish television reported Sunday.

The decision was confirmed by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, along with the appointments of 17 other Turkish envoys to various countries.

Celikkol, who held his post in Israel for less than a year, is expected to be replaced this summer by Cyprus expert Kerim Uras. A young diplomat, this will be Uras' first posting.

In January, Celikkol was summoned by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to a meeting, during which time he was rebuked over an anti-Israeli television show aired in Turkey. Celikkol was given a lower chair than the one Ayalon sat in, and the Turkish flag was deliberately not put on display. In photographs taken of the exchange, Celikkol is seen smiling while Ayalon tells the media that the Turkish envoy was purposely being treated that way.

Celikkol, who is considered one of Turkey's top diplomats, has not yet been given another appointment. According to Turkish sources, the delay may be due to dissatisfaction with his performance in the incident with Ayalon.

According to protocol, ambassadors who are insulted by their host country return home and are immediately appointed to a new senior position as a demonstration of their country's confidence in them.

It was believed that Celikkol would be appointed ambassador to Rome, replacing Ali Yakital, who was recalled to Turkey following a sexual harassment investigation. However, another diplomat has been appointed to that post.

Following the exchange with Ayalon, Celikkol's bureau told Haaretz the ambassador believed the meeting was to have been a get-acquainted session, which he had requested some days earlier, and that he had not been informed beforehand that he was to be rebuked.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry apparently expected Celikkol to have asked for a translation of the comments Ayalon made to the press or at least obtained information about the purpose of the meeting. The incident further strained already tense relations between Turkey and Israel and hampered Celikkol's work in Israel.

Celikkol's replacement, Uras, is representative of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's policy of posting younger diplomats around the world. However, the appointment of an inexperienced diplomat is also seen by some to be a means of sending Israel a message.