Ambassador Ahmet Akif OKTAY 06.03.2019

Esteemed Chairman of the Hungarian-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group,

Distinguished Ambassadors,

Esteemed Representatives of Hungarian Institutions,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I extend a warm welcome to all of you. And I thank you for accepting our invitation.

This is a very special evening. I am very pleased to welcome our former Ambassador to Hungary, Mr. Ender Arat, as our guest of honor tonight and his wife, Mrs. Ayşe Arat.

Many of you know them quite well. They represented Turkey in this beautiful country with distinction for four years from 1998 to 2002.

During their term, they also raised the bar for the succeeding Turkish Ambassadors by pioneering many, many cultural projects such as the establishment of the Turkish-Hungarian Women’s Association and publication of the first bilingual Turkish-Hungarian monthly magazine.

Ambassador Arat has a distinguished track record which spans nearly four decades. Before coming to Hungary, he had served in various other posts including Buenos Aires, Brussels, Bonn and Chisinau, where he set up the Turkish Embassy.

In Turkey he served at the highest levels of the government, including as Chief of Cabinet of the President, Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister and Deputy Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, where I had the privilege of working under him for about a year.

After his posting in Budapest, Ambassador Arat served as Turkey’s Ambassador to Spain for four years 2007 to 2011, when he retired.

But the retirement did not make a dent in his passion for work. He is still busy, writing books, organizing or helping with exhibitions, giving lectures, serving as a valued adviser on cultural projects, among many other occupations he pursues.

After retirement, Ambassador Arat wrote a book titled Török Hungary, which highlights the buildings, monuments, historical sights and personalities which are part of the common cultural legacy of Turkey and Hungary.

Several years ago, he wrote another book, which is called “They Trusted Turks” in Turkish. This is the story of the refugees from different territories and diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds who found safe haven first in the Ottoman Empire, then in modern Turkey, over many centuries.

It is a fascinating and deeply touching story which is now also being told on the big screen in the form of a multi-chapter documentary. The chapter we are going to watch tonight is specifically about the Hungarians. And this is the main reason why we are gathered here tonight. I will not go into any further details as Ambassador Arat will talk about both the book and the documentary after the screening.

I also want to thank Ambassador Janos Hovari who kindly agreed to be the moderator during the conversation and the question and answer period to follow.

Ambassador Hovari is also a distinguished Turcologist and historian. After several postings in the Middle East as Ambassador, he represented Hungary in Turkey from 2012 to 2014. He is an expert on Ottoman and Turkish history and has been writing about the subject for more than forty years. He was closely involved with the academic research on finding the remnants of the Tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent in Szigetvar. He also a played a key role in the latest renovation of the Gül Baba Türbe in Budapest.

We appreciate his ceaseless efforts to strengthen the cultural and academic ties between our countries.

Without further ado, let us now watch the documentary film “Open Door Anatolia.”

Once again, thank you for attending this unique event and please enjoy the evening.


Ahmet Akif Oktay Ambassador
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