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Soldier in the spotlight

By 1Lt Alexander Barb
First published in
SFOR Informer #98, October 11, 2000

Zenica - Good morning, bonjour, buenos dias, bongiorno, tungiatjeta. Sgt. Ali Kurtulmus must be gifted. Or perhaps one of his wishes has been granted by one of the good genii of the Istanbul Grand Bazar where he owns a shop. All that shines is not made of gold, but talk, for sure, is silver. Thus, Ali Kurtulmus plays fluently with five languages.
On duty as a conscript for 18 months, he belongs to the Engineer Company of the Turkish Battle Group which is located in Zenica where 700 people are stationed. He has one month left out of 12 he has to spent in Bosnia. At the camp, he holds two positions: the first one is the commanding of a "skurat," an elementary unit of 20 soldiers, and he has responsibility of the gate at the entrance of the camp. "At the gate, I can understand most of the people I meet," he said.
With time, a third mission was addedto the others, again highlighting his skills in translation. Nine years of studies in a private school are worth being aknowledged.
"I worked the first five months of my service here as an interpretor for the Turkish passengers at Sarajevo International Airport. Thus, I have done a lot of different work here," he said.
When he goes back to his area of Sultan Ahmet (the blue mosque) where he saw the light twenty-two years ago, he is thinking of going back to school.
"I'd like to learn German, Japanese and Arabic," said Kurtulmus.
A challenge that seems not to threaten him. In Istanbul Grand Bazar, knowing languages is a formidable tool when dealing with customers.
He also thinks about coming back to Bosnia, "but next time as a civilian. I'm really happy to be a Turkish soldier in Bosnia because I work with different nations ans I think it will be very helpful in my work."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Turkey