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President Erdoğan officially appoints new ambassadors to US, UN

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has officially appointed 10 people as ambassadors to the United States, the United Nations and a number of other countries.

The appointment of ambassadors to Guinea, Chile, Vietnam, Guatemala, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Equatorial Guinea, the United Nations and the United States was published in the Official Gazette on Friday.

The president on Friday formalized the appointments of Sedat Önal, a 35-year career diplomat, as ambassador in Washington, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yıldız as Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations. The initial announcements were made in February.

Turkey has not had an ambassador to the US since Murat Mercan, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), former MP and deputy minister who was appointed on March 15, 2021, retired on January 12.

Reactions on social media to the announcement of Önal’s appointment in February have been positive. Many emphasized the importance of having a career diplomat in this important position. Hümeyra Pamuk and Cansu Çamlıbel, journalists who cover Turkish politics, emphasized Önal’s familiarity with Washington circles.

In his new position Önal will have to to navigate the complicated web of issues that have tested relations between Turkey and the US.

Ankara moved closer to Russia after a failed coup in Turkey in 2016. Relations between Turkey and the US have been strained by a number of issues, including Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system and Washington’s partnership with the Syrian Kurds in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as well as Ankara’s increasingly anti-Western rhetoric.

Önal began his career at the Foreign Affairs Ministry as a junior officer in 1989. His first overseas assignment was as third secretary at the embassy in Kuwait from 1991 to 1993.

Önal’s first posting to the US was at the Turkish Consulate General in New York between 1998 and 2002.

Önal served as a counselor at the embassy in Tehran, consul general in Vienna and ambassador to Jordan until 2016.

Assuming the position of deputy minister of foreign affairs between 2018 and 2023, Önal has been Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York since February 2023.

Yıldız, who also began his career as a junior officer at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1988, served in various positions at the diplomatic missions in Damascus, Riyadh and Jeddah between 2000 and 2008.

Appointed as consul general in Mosul in December 2009, Yıldız served as Turkey’s ambassador to Sarajevo from November 2011 to July 2014.

In July 2014 Yıldız became the chief foreign policy advisor to the prime minister, followed by his appointment as the chief foreign policy advisor to the president in September

Yıldız served as deputy minister of foreign affairs from 2016 to 2018.

Elected as a member of parliament for the ruling AKP in 2018, Yıldız concurrently served as the chairman of the Turkish group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and as a member of the Turkish group in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Yıldız was again appointed deputy minister of foreign affairs on June 22, 2023.

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