Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu on his Mardin visit. (DHA)
Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu toured the southeastern city of Mardin as part of a brand-new strategy to explain Turkeyâ€™s foreign policy throughout the country, especially in long-neglected Anatolia.
Mardin is an ancient province home to Syriacs, Kurds, Arabs, Turks and a small Armenian community.
The foreign ministerâ€™s first stop was KasÄ±miye Madrasah, an Islamic school established in the 14th century overlooking the Mesopotamian plain. Accompanied by ambassadors, his wife, Sare, and two children, Mehmet and Hacer Bike, DavutoÄŸlu listened to the madrasahâ€™s history from a tourism police officer.
After posing with his family for photographers and reporters, the minister was asked to give a message on the occasion of Jan. 10, Working Journalistsâ€™ Day, and said, â€œEveryday is the day of the journalists.â€
The ministerâ€™s next stop was the ancient city of Dara. Locals welcomed the minister with Turkish flags and banners. He also sang the â€œÃ‡anakkale folk songâ€ with local primary school students â€“ a somewhat paradoxical event given the distance between Ã‡anakkale on the Aegean and Mardin. The minister promised to take the children to Ã‡anakkale on a tour. DavutoÄŸlu also enjoyed a friendly chat with locals and handed out books of Turkish and world literature to various children.
The ministerâ€™s other primary stop was the 1,500-year-old Syriac DeyrÃ¼lzafaran Monastery, and Mardin-DiyarbakÄ±r Archbishop Saliba Ã–zmen recounted the monasteryâ€™s history for DavutoÄŸlu.
Approximately 2,000 Syriacs live in Mardin, down from 12,000 in the past, as many Syriacs from the region have immigrated to Sweden over the years.
Meanwhile, during a meeting with representatives of the Syriac community, DavutoÄŸlu promised to deal with the problems of the group.
At another stop during the trip, the ministerâ€™s wife made an undisclosed donation to central Mardinâ€™s KÄ±rklar church, according to her adviser.
â€œMardin is a great treasure of humanity,â€ DavutoÄŸlu told reporters. â€œWeâ€™ll do our best to introduce this treasure to the world,â€ he said.
On Saturday, prominent Turkish ambassadors briefly abandoned the formal world of diplomacy to interact with people at a local coffehouse. NamÄ±k Tan, newly appointed as Turkeyâ€™s envoy to Washington, played backgammon with patrons, while Undersecretary Hakki Akil sported a local turban, or â€œpoÅŸu,â€ for assembled reporters