H.E. Mr. Cihad Erginay, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in BiH
Only for Furaj.ba, Turkish Ambassador and his wife shared their impressions about the life in BiH, their careers and the relationship between our countries.
Interviewed By: Elma ZEĆO
Photos: Almin ZRNO
As soon as he graduated from university, back in 1988, Ambassador Erginay joined diplomatic service within the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which makes his diplomatic career 28 years long. It is no coincidence.
A Dream Come True
What attracted you to this calling?
I always wanted to engage in diplomacy. It is a dream job for me. International relations and current events have always been in the focus of my interests. That is why I studied international relations. I found appealing the possibility of being constantly exposed to different countries and cultures, to learn about them, to analyse current events and study the interaction between people and nations.
How many diplomatic destinations have you already served in and which destination do you have particularly fond memories of?
– I served at many locations around the world, from Australia to the United States of America, to Saudi Arabia to Belgium. I was involved in consular affairs, bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Each place made a different impression and I believe I gained from the experience. For me, it was unusual to have served in Washington D.C. at the time of 9/11 terrorist attacks. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a special place for me, due to profoundly sincere relationship between our two countries and also due to the special place this beautiful country has in my heart. BiH is a small country with big problems.
Are you very busy here?
I am indeed. The relationship between Turkey and BiH is broad and intense. It has strong historical, social and cultural background. Development of political, commercial and economic relations in our daily affairs, increase of cultural and educational exchange and implementation of developmental projects keep us very busy and we are happy to see that the relationship between our two countries is getting stronger every day.
What are your priorities during your service in BiH?
– Our main objective is to intensify our bilateral relations any way possible; to support BiH in its attempts to become a country projecting stability and security across region, to undertake steps toward sustainable development and to assist BiH to make progress in fulfilment of its Euro-Atlantic Agenda.
What are, in your view, the advantages that BiH has?
BiH, as a multicultural and a multiconfessional country is situated in the central part of Europe. Its stability and development are of critical importance to the entire continent. Its success is vital, since it will serve as a model for Europe.
Where do you recognise its potential for stronger and more intense economic development?
– BiH has a strong industrial tradition. Improvement and further development of its traditional industries plays a particularly important role. However, its natural resources and the environment cannot pay the price. It is important to give priorities to sectors generating jobs and the areas in which BiH has potential, such as the agriculture, energy generation and tourism.
A Land of Unique Beauty
I imagine you have travelled across BiH. What places were in your view ideal for mental relaxation?
– I explored each corner of this gorgeous country and I always find its beauty striking and the hospitality of local residents amazing. I believe that each destination has its own merit and its own potential to become a major destination for tourists. BiH has something for everyone, for culture lovers, sport enthusiasts or people looking for a relaxing vacation.
What destinations in BiH would you recommend to your Turkish compatriots?
– Each part of this country is beautiful in its own way. I therefore advise people to explore it fully and not just restrict their visit to Sarajevo or Mostar.
If someone asked you to describe Sarajevo, what words would you use to do it?
– Different words and expressions are used to describe Sarajevo, including “the Heart of Europe”, “European Jerusalem” and so on. These expressions are certainly valid. In addition to them, Sarajevo is a charming and welcoming place which makes everyone feel at home.
Do you think Bosnian language is difficult to master?
– No foreign language is ever easy to learn. However, because of our countries’ shared heritage, there are many words our two languages have in common. For us, that’s an advantage.
Mrs. Tomurcuk Erginay, the wife of Turkish Ambassador
I am not Homesick
Most people perceive her as an engaged and active woman. She highly values relationships based on friendship and trust. Those are the relationships she forges in Sarajevo and BiH every day and she is assured she would never forget the friends she made here.
Exploring New Places
We asked Mrs. Erginay to tell us more about what her everyday life is like since she settled in our country.
– “Ever since I moved to Sarajevo, I was trying to balance my professional life in Turkey with my private life in BiH. During my stay in BiH I made many friends from BiH, Turkey and the International Community. Because of what my husband is doing, I often travel outside Sarajevo and I have a chance to explore new places and meet different people from all walks of life”, Mrs Erginay replies, adding:
– “Wherever I go, I see the remnants of our shared history and our shared cultural heritage. These are the things that bring us closer to one another, because we are similar in so many ways. We share similar tradition, similar cuisine, and so on. What is important though is that we keep working on our relationship.”
The Magic of Bosnian Coffee
In the spirit of the old adage: “Mens sana in corpore sano (A sound mind in a sound body)”, she considers herself lucky to be living in a city such as Sarajevo, which offers opportunities for a relaxing walk along the banks of the river Miljacka, as well as for trekking not far away from the city.
– “Unfortunately, I do not ski and I therefore do not enjoy wearing the winter gear when on the Olympic Mountains. I prefer to have coffee and quietly observe people who are into winter sports.
When asked what aspect of her homeland she misses most, she replied:
– “I suppose Sarajevo is the only diplomatic destination my husband and I lived in over the years, that does not make me miss Turkey a lot. It is not that far away and regular flights are available, which is why I travel to Istanbul quite frequently and also welcome many visitors from Turkey here. In BiH, I feel at home and among friends, and that is why I do not feel homesick. On the other hand, even if I felt homesick, I know the feeling would be quickly remedied by a cup of Bosnian coffee up at Baščaršija, or anywhere else in BiH.
Just like her husband, Tomurcuk Erginay feels a great deal of affection for BiH. She has already seen and experienced a lot. This month, she is planning to do something she never got the chance of doing before – she is visiting Una National Park.