Gökhan Eşeli stated that revolutionary leader Castro said these words at a dinner while he was serving in Cuba. Former diplomat said, "He admired Atatürk and always praised him."

Diplomat Gökhan Eşeli, who was voluntarily appointed to Cuba in 1996 while he was working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro a few months after going to Havana. Former diplomat Eşeli told SÖZCÜ about his experiences with the revolutionary leader, who died at the age of 90 on November 25, while he was working in Cuba. Eşeli said that Fidel Castro called him "Long Turk" and shared his memories as follows:


After my appointment decision was made, Fidel Castro came to Turkey for the HABITAT summit. While there was no cultural or economic relationship between Turkey and Cuba before, an interesting bond was formed with this visit.

“HE ATE FISH AND DRINKED 4 GLASSES OF RAKI AT THE TURKISH TABLE” Fidel Castro drank raki and ate fish at a dinner in Cuba, attended by journalist Leyla Umar. Revolutionary leader Castro, who drank 4 glasses of raki, said that he liked the Turkish drink very much...

At that time, Fidel Castro did not travel much. When she came to Turkey, journalist Leyla Umar met Castro in Istanbul and received a promise to meet in Cuba. I was appointed in September 1996. After that, Leyla Umar came to Cuba.

He brought special boxes of turbot fish to Castro. Fidel Castro was given a meal at the house of the then ambassador. Our ambassador at that time did not drink raki and did not keep it at home. I too would be angry with this attitude of the ambassador. Because a person working there should have Turkey's local and world-class drinks available to offer to his guests, even if they do not drink them. There would be no Turkish coffee at our ambassador's house. So it's like having no cigars in the Cuban Ambassador's house. Since there was raki at my house, I said to Ms. Leyla, 'I will bring raki, there is even Turkish coffee, let's serve it too.' Ms. Leyla also accepted my offer.


Then we made raki and fish with Fidel Castro. He drank 4 glasses of raki and liked it very much. He told us the following at that dinner: “What we have achieved is far beyond what we imagined when we set out. But many things were harder than we expected. Despite everything, compared to our revolution, the entire cultural revolution made by Atatürk is far above this.” This was a very important statement. At the end of the 3-hour meal, we stood up to take photos. When I came side by side with him, he turned to me and made this joke: You are taller than me.

"HE CALLED ME THAT BECAUSE I WAS TALLER THAN HIM" Diplomat Gökhan Eşeli, who said that he called himself 'Tall Turk' because he was 2 cm taller than Fidel Castro, said, "He called me that way every time we met."

Then his chief advisor next to him came to me and said, 'You defeated Fidel Castro on one issue from the very first day. 'You won't like this,' he said. I was surprised and asked why. The consultant told me about the baseball game rivalry between Castro and Che: “After the revolution, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara founded two separate baseball teams. They played baseball at night, and Che Guevara's team never beat Fidel Castro's team. "You have now been defeated and marked," he laughed. As I was leaving the house at the end of the meal, Fidel Castro called me "Long Turk".


Our second meeting was a few months later. There was an invitation at the state council, but I was not invited. While I was sitting at home, I received a phone call from our ambassador and he said that I was on the guest list. So I quickly got ready and went to the Presidency building. I made it to the end of the invitation. Fidel Castro recognized me there and said to me again, 'Tall Turk, are you the last one?' Later, I had the opportunity to be with Fidel 3 more times at other events.


There was participation from many countries in the International Havana Fair in 1998. Minister Yalım Erez also attended from Turkey. Fidel Castro hosted dinner for the guests at the Presidency building. At that dinner, he made an interesting observation about Fidel Castro, Bill Gates and the internet. In one part of the conversation, he said, "The inventions of these Bill Gates and internet bunks may one day turn into the antichrist." I didn't understand this statement at the time. But after watching the movie 'Snowden' and seeing WikiLeaks, I thought: "The Internet is of course very useful, but we have now seen what the Internet and technology can lead to when used excessively." Fidel Castro identified this situation 20 years ago.


Former diplomat Gökhan Eşeli stated that cigars were distributed on a tray at a dinner. Eşeli said that many guests bought Cuba's well-known cigar brands and said: "I bought Trinidad cigars, which are not sold and are only served to high-ranking state representatives. Castro turned to me and said, 'Look, Uzun Turk knows this job.'