A diplomat needs to get creative while doing his/her job during coronavirus lockdown as personal contacts constitute the basis of the job, said Viktor Matis, Hungary’s ambassador to Turkey.
In an exclusive interview about the stay-at-home period over pandemic in the Turkish capital Ankara, Matis said that along with his job at the embassy, he has been mostly busy with taking care of his 3.5-year-old and 6 month-old sons.
He said he longs for walking on Ankara’s streets, buying simit — a donut-shaped Turkish bagel — in the morning, and walking down on Tunali Hilmi Street.
“There is one thing the ambassador of Hungary does best in the coronavirus lockdown: staying at home,” said Matis, adding that being a diplomat, a job requiring a lot of contact with others, is all the more challenging now.
Matis said they bring the routine cultural activities of the embassy to social media, and added: “It is the best place to express ideas. We also need to boost economic ties through videoconferences.”
He stressed he is still in contact with the Hungarian community in Ankara, saying: “We still have a lot to do, but now it is harder to keep in touch, create bonds with people and represent Hungarian interests in many great cities of Turkey.”
– ‘Not bored, we take care of our children’
Matis stressed the importance of staying at home, and said: “I’ve heard some people get bored in lockdown, while I always try to find something to do around the house, and appreciate my wife’s efforts in raising our children.”
“I noticed how fun and also tiring kids can be, one can never get bored with two little children,” he added.
– ‘I long for walks through Ankara streets’
Matis said it is very tragic that many people lost their lives during the pandemic.
But what is worse is to be forced to change your daily routines, he said.
“I long for representing Hungary in all the beautiful provinces of Turkey, buying simit in the morning, walking on Tunali Hilmi Street all the way to Kocatepe, and occasionally walking into a cafe for a treat,” he said.
– ‘People’s interest on social media not for me, but for Hungary’
One of the ambassadors in Turkey with high numbers of social media followers, Matis said this interest is not particularly for him, but an indication of Turkish people’s interests for Hungary and Hungarians.
Joking about Turkish people’s stereotypical image of an ambassador — a man with white hair and a belly — he said: “I will do everything I can to get there.”
He occasionally shares Turkish poems on Twitter, as reading poems gives him relaxation, he added.
Matis said the Hungarian Cultural Center has responded to the lockdown swiftly, and noted: “Cultural activities of the center continue on social media. It also works hard to add Turkish subtitles to Hungarian movies.”
For the rest of the year, the center is planning more activities, including a Hungarian library section in the eastern Kars province of Turkey, and Hungarian Trace Tour in Ankara, Matis also said.
* Writing by Firdevs Bulut
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