The Turkish Foreign Secretary, Ahmet Davutoğlu, caused a bit of a stir on inner West Street when he visited Back Creek Books last Sunday. Davutoğlu, an avid reader and book collector who maintains an extra house in Turkey just for his books, was touring the Naval Academy on the eve of his meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Bookshop owner Rock Toews was hosting an artist’s reception for photographer Rick Brady when an agent from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security came in scouting a bookstore for the Minister to visit.
Toews was asked to describe his bookstore in two sentences. “I try to stock books of lasting interest and importance in all fields, but am strongest in military and naval history, nautical and maritime material, regional history, and literature. Each book on the shelves has been hand-selected to be here.” The Diplomatic Security agent radioed this information and got a reply that Minister Davutoğlu would like to stop in. The agent then quipped, “Not to put any pressure on you or anything, but we’re depending on you to help foster our good diplomatic relations with Turkey here.”
It wasn’t long before a motorcade of several large black SUVs pulled up to the curb on the opposite side of West Street and the entourage of Turkish and U.S. agents emerged and escorted Minister Davutoğlu and his wife into the bookshop.
Toews introduced himself and welcomed the Minister and his dozen or so companions. Davutoğlu and his wife shopped for about 45 minutes, gathering two boxes of books for purchase. Toews showed and described to the Minister some of the shop’s more rare volumes. Davutoğlu graciously posed for a few photographs before his departure. Afterwards Toews was confident that he had done his part to move forward diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Turkey.