Home Diplomatic Spotlight Diplomatic Spotlight January 17, 2024

Diplomatic Spotlight January 17, 2024

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Diplomatic Spotlight January 17, 2024
Outgoing Turkish Ambassador Hasan Mercan (center) and his wife Inci (left) pose for a photo with Shahin Mafi, host of a reception for the Mercans before they leave Washington.

Turkish ambassador feted as he leaves DC 

Well-wishers braved wintry weather in Washington on Jan. 9 to bid farewell to Turkish Ambassador Hasan Mercan, who was called back to Turkey as he approached mandatory retirement age.

Shahin Mafi, founder and CEO of Home Health Connection, Inc., and a member of the Global Leadership Council of the Meridian International Center, and her husband Hassan Massali hosted a reception for the outgoing ambassador at their residence.

Among those who ventured out in the elements to attend the reception were former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy, who is the deputy secretary for global partnerships at the U.S. State Department, and Tunisian Ambassador Hanan Al-Tajouri.

Mercan served as Turkish ambassador to the United States since March 15, 2021.

In a statement posted on the embassy’s website, he lauded Turkey and the United States for “tackling challenges we are confronted with in a wide geography, spanning from the Middle East to the Balkans, from North Africa to Eurasia.

“Türkiye and the U.S. have proved time and again that when they cooperate on transnational issues, including counter-terrorism, ensuring international energy security, tackling climate change, and mitigating the political-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they can together accomplish great feats,” he said. “Türkiye stands ready to start a new chapter in this partnership and to fortify even further its relations with the U.S., based on a wide-ranging positive agenda.”

French ambassador receives American Legion medallion

French Ambassador Laurent Bili was presented with a medallion commemorating the centennial of Paris Post 1 of the American Legion, which was established in the French capital in December 1919 in the wake of World War I.

U.S. Army veteran and legionnaire Wes Lam presented the medallion to the ambassador at an event at the French diplomat’s residence in Washington last year for Sciences Po alumni. Lam attended Sciences Po for one year in 2018-19 as part of a dual degree program run with Columbia University in New York.The military challenge coin-style medallion shows the Eiffel Tower against the American and French flags, above the inscription “100 years, 13 Dec 1919,” the date Paris Post 1 was founded.

After presenting it to Bili, Lam gave the ambassador a brief history of Paris Post 1, whose original members were veterans of the American Expeditionary Forces who had gone to France to fight in World War I.

Today, Paris Post 1 helps to keep the legacy of America’s contribution to Europe alive by serving U.S. veterans and their families in France,” it says on its website.

After meeting the ambassador and presenting him with the medallion, Lam “ended up talking with the embassy official who helped me set it up,” he said. “Because…  you can’t just randomly run up to a foreign diplomat.”

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919. From a group of “war-weary veterans of World War I,” it has grown over the past century into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States, with nearly 2 million members worldwide.

Karin Zeitvogel

Karin Zeitvogel started her journalism career at the BBC World Service and has worked since then for international media outlets and organizations including Agence France-Presse, U.N. agencies, Voice of America, RIA Novosti and the National Institutes of Health. She's lived in nine countries, speaks fluent French and German, good Spanish and a smattering of other languages.