By YM Sreekrishna Bhat
Diplomatically-speaking, the Turkish Ambassador to Bahrain has earned a niche for himself in the art circles of Bahrain. Artistically-speaking, Engin Turker represents the best of Turkey in the Pearl of the Gulf. For him, art and diplomacy come naturally and his canvas unlimited.
His love for art was as if in-born but he made diplomacy his career when maths failed him.
Son of a map engineer, Engin, born in 1944, started playing with colours very young. The transformation from a happy child dabbling with paint and clay to an artist with a strong perception of things around him did not take much time for Turker with the love and affection of people around.
Growing up with the rich life around, the artist in him overtook him and fine arts became an addiction. As he grew up, he developed an ardent desire to be an architect, as it seemed the right outlet to his artistic orientation. Along side, he was also a keen student of geography, economics, history, diplomacy and social and international affairs.
Art and maths hardly go together and Engin was no exception. He had to give up architecture and choose his other interest ...international affairs, and eventually a diplomatic career.
Architecture's loss was diplomatic fraternity's gain. However, the artist in Turker never left and he was firm not to give up artistic activities.
Having completed education in political science and eventually graduating in foreign relations, Turker took the first step into the world of international relations as a rapporteur at the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations.
While being there, he won a chance to study Marketing Management at Harward Business School which Turker confesses contributed a lot to his vision.
Subsequently, when he became a junior diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he felt that this was where he belonged. Here he developed a harmony between artist Engin and diplomat Engin in the quest to represent his country in the best possible manner.
For him, to be able to represent his country as the top representative in another country is the high point in his career as a diplomat, a peak of success in itself ... a gift glorious.
"I believe that one of the best things in life is to be able to express oneself not only as an individual but most of all as someone belonging to a particular country, to which you are attached with affection, admiration,love and fidelity."
In the path of success, Turker has been helped by many people in small and big ways. He remembers: "All through my life I had so many people whom I owe bits and pieces of what I have tried to be. Most of all to my mother who taught me how to love and to acknowledge facts of life with prudence, my father who always embraced and appreciated me, my brother who cared for me and my dear primary school teacher who shared her wisdom with me for so many years.
"Later, my wife Lale has been the most outstanding among all. Her wisdom, patience and very special qualities always supported and boosted my endeavours in performing my duties as a Turkish diplomat. She is a bright well-educated woman who sacrified her career for being my competent supporter forever. She has been helping me and sharing my responsibilities in representing our country. My son Kerem, a talented student of architecture, is another wonderfull reinforcement in my life."
Despite a highly accomplished diplomatic career and making waves in the artistic scene having held more than 20 exhibitions, Turker, a self-taught artist, thinks fulfillment is never. "There should always be a next goal to attain. Life is worth looking beyond apparent limits and aiming at what may seem unreachable."
Turker is hesitant to pin point any of his achievements as THE biggest. "Every effort resulting positively is an achivement. One can't really say some are minor and some are more important. A small success may be more significant, bring more happiness than some others that appear to be more important."
A formula for success? It begins with careful listening to one's own heart, exploring the true tendencies, capacities and abilities. "Choose those avenues where you can see the light at the end and walk with courage. Self-evaluation and self-esteem, hard work, devotion, ability to listen to constructive criticism, patience, perseverance and goodwill are keys to success. Positive efforts and goodwill always pays back," Turker reminds the young.
"If you really want to do something, you can do it," he says emphatically.
He warns, if there are successes, there are regrets as well. "There got to be regrets in life, otherwise how could glories be sensed," asks Turker. "Regrets teach one to be more vigilant and mature. They give you insight not to end up at the same dead-end. Regrets are indispensable and are educative."
In art, no matter how talented one is, the more one does, the more he learns. And satisfaction is hard to come. After doing a work for sometime you feel happy, but them comes an emptiness. However, diplomacy is more concrete. The work is complete when it is complete.
Turker is happy that he had been lucky to be able to manage his time well between work, family and friends and his never-ending love for art. Finding a fair balance between professional obligations and expectations of one's personal life also helps a more efficient and fruitful execution of official tasks, he says.
Engin believes nothing is achieved solo in this world. A leader needs the backing and understanding of others on his path of achievment. A leader could only be successful as long as he or she is a model and a source of inspiration for others.
A true ambassador of his country, Turker has a charm which draws people naturally to him. The expressionist in him gets inspiration from all things around him but the best comes from human beings. The artistic inclination makes one more humane, softer and treat all people with respect and like friends. Mutual respect is the essence of life, he says.
"I have always preferred to act as a friend rather than a superior; being aware of my position and responsibilities and willing to fullfill them with the support and efforts of the others, who are in turn also aware of their own individual responsibilites.
Turker feels the diplomatic career has helped him in his artistic pursuit. It has enabled him encounter different cultures and people, see more, learn more, access more. "Art always needs patronage. Being a diplomat you are able to support yourself."
His ambition as an artisit is to bring out a book on his productions and create sculptures that will last for ever.
Having lived in Bahrain for more than two years, Turker has many positive things to say about the country.
"Bahrain has always rightly been attributed as the Pearl of the Gulf. It is not only because that it had the best quality of natural pearls, but more than that for what she has built up throughout these years. Thanks to her wise leadership, strategic location and colourful cultural heritage, together with ever-developing diversified economy and most of all its talented human resources, Bahrain is so unique."
He says in the years to come Bahrain will certainly become the " Bijou " (the jewel) of the Gulf, a unique piece of pearl ornamented with precious stones, as it becomes the financial, economic, commercial, tourism, cultural and technical centre of the Gulf. With her genuinely wise, well-educated, peace loving, gentle people, she is evolving a democratic system to become one of the model states of the new millenium.
Due to Turker's efforts, Bahrain will certainly see more of Turkey and Turkey more of Bahrain and the expressionist Engin Turker expresses great happiness over this.
Published in the Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain 2000