Turkey recalls Uganda envoy over ancient Greek costume 'scandal'

AFP , Saturday 3 Nov 2018

Sedef Yavuzalp
Ambassador Sedef Yavuzalp Reuters

The Turkish foreign ministry on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Uganda after she was photographed at a reception for Turkey's annual Republic Day wearing a dress reportedly inspired by ancient Greece.

Ambassador Sedef Yavuzalp hosted the reception in Kampala for the annual October 29 holiday marking the founding of the modern Turkish Republic in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The Twitter feed of Uganda's parliament, whose speaker Rebecca Kadaga was present at the event, posted pictures of Yavuzalp in a robe and an unnamed male Turkish official in what appeared to be a toga.

The nationalist Sozcu daily on Saturday splashed the pictures on its front page, saying that Yavuzalp had dressed as Helen of Troy -- whose beauty according to Homer sparked the Trojan War -- and the assistant as the Greek god Zeus complete with an olive wreath on his head.

"A great scandal on Republic Day -- the ambassador was Helen and her assistant Zeus," it said.

Such associations go down badly with Turkish nationalists who stringently emphasise the Turkishness of the modern state despite the long history of Greek and Roman civilisation on its territory.

In a statement the foreign ministry said that "urgent investigations were launched after the publications of pictures on social media and press of our ambassador at the reception."

"In this framework, the ambassador has been recalled," it added, without giving further details.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also tweeted that the ambassador had been called back.

Sozcu said that Yavuzalp is a career diplomat who has been posted in Kampala for the last five years.

Some reports said that the diplomat had been trying to promote the 2018 "Year of Troy", whose remains lay outside the city of Canakkale in western Turkey.

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