Ankara pleased with Kerry’s nomination for secretary of state post

Ankara has welcomed the nomination of John Kerry as the next US secretary of state, expecting that the veteran senator will act as a pragmatic and conciliatory politician.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has sent a message to Kerry congratulating him on the nomination. The foreign minister also said he was looking forward to meeting Kerry in his new position.

US President Barack Obama nominated Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state on Friday. Obama picked Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, after the front-runner, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration last week. Rice was not Ankara’s preferred choice as Clinton’s successor.

The UN envoy angered Ankara after she said in 2010 that a UN probe of Israel’s deadly raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in May of the same year was no substitute for the national probes being conducted by both Turkey and Israel, a statement that Ankara said gave a very restrictive interpretation of the panel’s mandate.

Rice also raised eyebrows in Ankara more recently when she spoke fervently against a UN vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member state early this month. Turkish officials believe Rice is too ambitious and would have likely felt that she needs to prove herself as fit for the secretary of state job.

Kerry, on the other hand, is an experienced politician, known for his modest personality and conciliatory stance. “He is an experienced politician who favors practical solutions. Most importantly, he does not think he needs to prove that he is fit for the job,” a senior government official said of the US senator. Kerry is also preferred for his interest in foreign policy issues and the positive dialogue he has had with Turkish officials so far. Kerry met with Davutoğlu in Washington in February. He also had talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a visit to Ankara in November 2010.

In announcing the nomination, Obama expressed confidence that Kerry was a favored name for countries around the world. "As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we’ve got to harness all elements of American power and ensure that they’re working together," Obama said. "John’s earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training."

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