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Zeki Kuneralp Memoirs

Sinan Kuneralp in conversation with Sir Kieran Prendergast

April 8, 2024
18.00 (UK time)
Booking essential

Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), 50 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5BT

Zeki Kuneralp (1914–98), a career diplomat, served twice as Turkey’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. His first term was between 1964 and 1966. He returned to London in 1969, having held the post of Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the meantime. He remained there until 1972, when he was transferred to Madrid.

From 1957, when he was appointed Deputy Secretary-General, Kuneralp wrote summaries of the discussions and conversations he had on official matters in a notebook. He kept this habit until his retirement in 1979. Thus, the notebooks provide a wealth of information on Turkish foreign relations and international issues over a twenty-year period and are a primary source for the study of the Cold War period as experienced by a Turkish diplomat. Publication of the notebooks is underway. Six volumes are planned, of which five have been published so far: The View from Ankara (1958-1960 and 1966-1969), The London Years (1964-1966 and 1969-1972) and The Madrid Years (1972-1979). The sixth and final volume, The Bern Years (1960-1963), will be published later this year.

The two London volumes presented today cover a crucial period of modern British history in which Britain attempts to come to terms with its role as a post-imperial world power and adapts its relations with the European Common Market. From a Turkish perspective, the Cyprus question occupies an important place in Kuneralp’s notes, with a series of high- level meetings taking place in London in 1964 and 1965.

His memoirs, Sadece Diplomat, were translated into English as Just a Diplomat, by Geoffrey Lewis, Professor of Turkish at the University of Oxford. When Kuneralp passed away in 1998 the Anglo-Turkish Society, whose president was Sir Timothy Daunt, organized a memorial day. Sinan Kuneralp’s brother Selim, a retired ambassador, will end the evening with a talk on Turkish foreign policy during the half century that passed since their father’s time in London.

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