We often do a lot of work, write long reports and have only one or two readers back home who will really read it.' Mrs. Cuntz believes she owes her beauty and exuberance to meeting the right man early enough. When it comes to affection, she says: 'In my family we are just the same. We could be Turkish in that way.'
There is something special between the EU term president Germany's ambassador to Turkey, Eckart Cuntz, and his wife, Ursula. The way they smile at each other is unique. They told us about how they met and the secrets of having a long, healthy relationship. Ambassador Cuntz thinks diplomats have a sad story: They often do a lot of work, write long reports but have only one or two real readers. Nevertheless, his motto is to never give up. The Cuntz couple has traveled much in Turkey and enjoy the sun and ancient sites. But the ambassador thinks that bringing the Pergamon Temple from Berlin back to its original place is not something desirable.
"I had the chance to meet the right man early," says Ursula Cuntz and turns her head to Eckart Cuntz, the German ambassador to Turkey. She smiles. Not only when they are looking at each other, but also when they are talking about each other. More than smiling, their faces are shining naturally.
Diplomatic circles in Ankara are right -- there is something unique between this couple -- whoever sees them can feel their attraction toward each other. While Mrs. Cuntz was talking about how they met, she was telling it as if the memories were coming alive. My imagination turns her words into a fairy tale.
…Once upon a time there was a very beautiful girl named Ursula in Germany. One day she went to a crowded party. Then she saw a man in the corner. She had not met him before. The man noticed her, too. They looked at each other; their eyes had started to shine. Ever since then…"
Mrs. Cuntz continues from the point that my imagination left off: "When we left the party I was asked how long we had known each other. I said we didn't. Everybody was surprised by this. And two-and-a-half weeks later we were fiancés."
When she finishes, the three apples that are supposed to fall down from the sky did not appear, although in Turkish fairy tales they are always there: one for the listener, one for the heroes and one for those who understand the moral of the story.
Instead of apples we had tea. But a little later when Mrs. Cuntz was talking about their three children -- the oldest is 22 and studying economics; the middle one is 20 and studies political science; the youngest is 17 and lives with them in Ankara -- the missing apples were found.
I ask the ambassador whether it was possible to force love. The question may sound odd, but for Turks living in Germany, they face this question in terms of arranged marriages.
The ambassador takes a deep breath. "Well, I think we are talking about different issues," says Ambassador Cuntz.
"Unfortunately, you have some forced marriages. It is a serious problem and your authorities are taking the issue very seriously. To recognize the problem, I think, is good. If you recognize the problem, you can find a solution. This, of course, might also concern marriages in Germany. Second, there is, in some cases -- not just for Turkish people but also for others -- pretend marriages. If some people marry in order to get a certain status in a certain country, they don't marry in reality. This is something known all over the world. This is not a question of proving love but whether the marriage is a real one."
"Is the marriage between Turkey and the EU a real one, then?" I ask the ambassador. "You are asking me difficult questions!" he answers. "If I can judge love, then I can judge this one."
While we are talking about difficult questions, we learn that if Ambassador Cuntz were not a diplomat he would want to be a journalist. "Diplomats usually have a sad story," he says. "We often do a lot of paperwork, write long reports and we have only one or two people back home who will actually read it."
He says if he were a journalist the most difficult question he would ask a German ambassador in Turkey is what Turkey-EU relations would look like in two years' time. (We asked this question to him with a different wording and published his answer in last Saturday's Today's Zaman.)
Turkish and German's longest word
As I said before, when Turkish fairy tales come to an end, the storyteller will state the moral of the story and wish that an apple goes to those who apply it.
While living in different parts of the world, what kind of apples does the Cuntz couple get? What is the motto they always keep in mind?
Ambassador and Mrs. Cuntz look at each other in their familiar way again.
"Something I was told by my mother when I was very young," says Mrs. Cuntz, "is to treat others as you would want to be treated."
The ambassasdor gives the answer to her wife: "I don't know if you would agree, but my motto is never give up."
While talking about learning Turkish, he proves that he is not giving up.
Sometimes he gives speeches in the Turkish he has learned in the last year. But he says that he is not able to read "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk in Turkish. Sometimes he takes a book in Turkish and the same book in German to compare the text. He reads Turkish newspapers with the help of his colleagues. Before answering who his favorite Turkish writer is, he gazes again at his wife, as if having his answer first approved by her. They both say Yaþar Kemal. Mrs. Cuntz is also learning Turkish. "Unfortunately I am not as good as my husband, but I am trying," she says. When it comes to language, Turks think that German words are too long. But don't tell this to Mrs. Cuntz. "Are you joking? Think about…" -- she starts to spell a Turkish word -- "ev-lerin-den" (from their house).
Ambassador Cuntz is more conciliatory. "Let's say there is a competition between the longest word in German and Turkish," he says.
While we were talking about Turkish culture, Mrs. Cuntz says she can live on Turkish entrees forever, although she has not learned how to cook them yet. She adds that she likes the small shops here and wishes they had them in Germany. I ask the ambassadorial couple what they think about the Turkish belief that Germans are "cold" and always keep a distance.
Mrs. Cuntz, smiles: "I certainly would not say that we Germans are cold, not at all! But it depends on where you are in Germany. In the north, people put more distance between themselves and others then they do in the south. I think a Turk coming to northern Germany would be shocked. They are also nice but, nevertheless, they are not used to showing their friendliness the same way they do in Turkey. They will smile less then the Turks do, but this does not mean they are less friendly."
She adds that when it comes to familial affection, it depends on the family. "In my family we are just the same. I could be Turkish in that sense," she says.
Which do you prefer, the sun or the Pergamon Museum?
When asked what he would like have in Germany that we Turks have here, he gives the answer without thinking: "The sun!"
"I wish we could have more sun in Germany. Also, we certainly don't have ancient sites like you have," he adds. But one of the ancient sites that Turkey had once upon a time is in Berlin now: The Pergamon Temple. This temple was built in the second century B.C. in Bergama. It was dedicated to Zeus and was excavated at the beginning of the 20th century by a German archaeological team. It was than shipped to Germany to be reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Turkey wants to it returned to its original place.
"Well, I wonder if it is really desirable," questions the ambassador. "If you have been to Pergamon, you see a very impressive landscape, breathtaking. When the Germans came to Pergamon -- by the way, in cooperation with Ottoman authorities -- there was no such a thing as Pergamon. There were some stones scattered around. With the full agreement of the Turkish authorities, German archeologists collected them and build a whole museum in Berlin, to present to the world what kind of a treasure you had in Turkey. It is the best place you can have a Pergamon Museum. By the way, it is now under the protection of UNESCO so I don't think that it would be desirable to put it back where it was."
He thinks that there are many beautiful buildings in Turkey, some well protected, some not. He wishes all of them were preserved. He and his wife saw many in Mardin. They have been to Erzurum, Sivas, Konya, Gaziantep, Þanlýurfa, Adana, Mersin, Trabzon, Ýzmir, Bodrum, the west coast and Antalya. Traveling isn't the Cuntz couple's only hobby. They love to listen to classical music, gardening and playing piano. "We try four hands sometimes," says Mr. Cuntz.
Away goes the apple
The Cuntz couple's dance last year in the reception held to celebrate the unification of Germany is still a topic of discussion in Ankara's diplomatic circles. It was just like a scene from a happy ending in a tale. Still, I could not keep myself from asking if they had practiced for the dance.
"You always complain I'm a bad dancer," Ambassador Cuntz says to his wife. She is surprised. "I would not mention it," she says, with a punch to the ambassador's leg. "We did not practice specifically for that, no," she says. Then she explains the magic of their tender glances to each other.
"I think the most import thing is, even when you don't have the same opinion, to keep on talking. I think it is not a good idea to think that we always have to share the same view or always agree. Sometimes my husband makes decisions and I am not completely happy with them. But if it is not important for me, why should I bother to struggle? Sometimes my husband realizes that something is important for me, and he will give in. It is all give and take in the end."
Thus ends our fairy interview.
"…Thereafter, they lived happily in their residence, at the garden in the German Embassy. At the entrance door of their residence, they put a green sign with calligraphy written in Arabic, saying "Ya Hafiz." This means "The Protector." One of the 99 beautiful names of Allah. May Hafiz protect the happiness and love of this couple forever. Three apples fall down from the sky. One of them for the ones who realize that love does not have a diplomatic language.