- Full Text: Joint Press Availability With President Obama And President Gul Of Turkey
- Full Text of the US president's speech at Turkish Parliament
- Full Text: Remarks By President Obama And Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan After Meeting
- Full Text: Remarks Of President Barack Obama At Student Roundtable
April 6, 2009
JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT GUL OF TURKEY
1:55 P.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT GUL: (As translated.) We are very pleased to host the President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama, in Turkey. It would not be wrong to say that our discussions began in Strasbourg, and the discussions that we began in Strasbourg, we continued with them today, both during our meeting and then over lunch. And it was very beneficial.
At the outset of my remarks, I would like to say that we heard that there's been an earthquake in Italy -- we just heard. And I would like to express my condolences to the people who lost their lives. We share the sorrow of the Italian people.
We are very appreciative of the fact that Mr. Obama, having been elected President, made Turkey one of his stops in his first overseas visit, and we have been very happy with that -- the Turkish people have been very happy with that.
We have had opportunity to review the strategic dimension of our relations. Most of our relations seem to be on a military and political dimension, but we are also determined to move forward on the economic dimension of our relations. On the area of technology, we'll continue to support development of economic and technology cooperation. These are areas which we place importance on.
In we look at Turkish-American issues, we see that the United States is very much interested, and must be interested, in important issues around the world as a superpower, and Turkey is an important country in her region, and Turkey is very much interested in many subjects. So if we were to make two separate lists of the issues that our countries are interested in, we would see that they are very much alike. And so I'm very pleased to say that Turkey and the United States have great understanding for each other and they work in cooperation with each other.
Of course, fighting against terrorism is one of the most important issues for both of the countries, and the cooperation that we've had so far will be further developed, and in many geographies, from Afghanistan to the Caucuses to the Balkans to the Middle East, we are working together and we are determined to continue to work together. And the President has also shown great interest to Turkey's relations with the European Union. We appreciate that very much. We thank him very much for his words in that regard.
I think that this visit has been very beneficial. I'd like to welcome the President once again and wish him success.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you very much. And, President Gul, you could not be a better host, and we are grateful to you and your team, as well as all the people of Turkey for the extraordinary hospitality that you've extended to us.
As you mentioned, we just heard the news of the earthquake in Italy, and we want to send out condolences to the families there and hope that we are able to get rescue teams in and that we can minimize the damage as much as possible moving forward.
I have now spent a week traveling through Europe. And I've been asked,are you trying to make a statement by ending this weeklong trip in Turkey? And the answer is, yes, I am trying to make a statement. I'm trying to make a statement about the importance of Turkey not just to the United States but to the world. This is a country that has been often said lies at the crossroads between East and West. It's a country that possesses an extraordinarily rich heritage, but also represents a blend of those ancient traditions with a modern nation state that respects democracy, respects rule of law and is striving towards a modern economy.
It is a member of NATO and it is also a majority Muslim nation, unique in that position, and so, as a consequence, has insights into a whole host of regional and strategic challenges that we may face. And I've been extraordinarily impressed with President Gul and the quality of his leadership, as well as Prime Minister Erdogan, and so, as a consequence, I'm excited about the prospects of us working together.
As the President noted, we had a wide-ranging conversation. We thanked Turkey for its outstanding work in Afghanistan, and we discussed our strategic review. We have a similar perspective in terms of how to move forward, and Turkey's contributions to ISAF and the overarching effort is going to be critical.
We discussed the progress that's been made in Iraq and how we can continue to build on that progress as the U.S. begins to draw down its troops.
We talked about Middle East peace and how that can be achieved. And we discussed the need -- a shared view for us to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation not just in the region, but around the world. And as President Gul noted, we also talked about business and commerce, because all too often the U.S.-Turkish relationship has been characterized just by military issues and yet there's enormous possibilities for us to grow the economy and to make sure that trade between our countries and commerce and the lines of communication between our two countries continually strengthen, because we think that that's going to be good for Turkey, but it's also going to be good for the United States.
So we also discussed the issue of terrorism more broadly. And I reiterated my support to make sure that we are supporting Turkey in dealing with terrorist threats that may -- they may experience.
So, overall it was an extremely productive meeting, and it gives me confidence that, moving forward, not only are we going to be able to improve our bilateral relations, but as we work together we're going to be able to I think shape a set of strategies that can bridge the divide between the Muslim world and the West that can make us more prosperous and more secure.
And so I'm proud that the United States is a partner with Turkey, and we want to build on that partnership in the years to come.
PRESIDENT GUL: Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay. We were going to call on one --
PRESIDENT GUL: One and one, yes. Sorry.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Do you want me to start, or you?
PRESIDENT GUL: You can start, yes.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christy Parsons, Chicago Tribune -- hometown -- hometown newspaper.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. As a U.S. senator you stood with the Armenian-American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide and you also supported the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution. You said, as President you would recognize the genocide. And my question for you is, have you changed your view, and did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, my views are on the record and I have not changed views. What I have been very encouraged by is news that under President Gul's leadership, you are seeing a series of negotiations, a process, in place between Armenia and Turkey to resolve a whole host of longstanding issues, including this one.
I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly very soon. And so as a consequence, what I want to do is not focus on my views right now but focus on the views of the Turkish and the Armenian people. If they can move forward and deal with a difficult and tragic history, then I think the entire world should encourage them.
And so what I told the President was I want to be as constructive as possible in moving these issues forward quickly. And my sense is, is that they are moving quickly. I don't want to, as the President of the United States, preempt any possible arrangements or announcements that might be made in the near future. I just want to say that we are going to be a partner in working through these issues in such a way that the most important parties, the Turks and the Armenians, are finally coming to terms in a constructive way.
Q So if I understand you correctly, your view hasn't changed, but you'll put in abeyance the issue of whether to use that word in the future?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I'd like to do is to encourage President Gul to move forward with what have been some very fruitful negotiations. And I'm not interested in the United States in any way tilting these negotiations one way or another while they are having useful discussions.
Q Thank you.
PRESIDENT GUL: (As translated.) Let me also share my views on this subject. This is an issue under great discussion. But it is not a legal or political issue, it's a historical issue. What is being discussed is a situation that was experienced in 1915 under the conditions of World War I, when the Ottoman Empire was battling on four fronts. And unfortunately, some citizens of the empire then were provoked by some other countries and there were many internal clashes and many people lost their lives. And we share the sorrow of all those who lost their lives, but we have to remember that the Muslim population also suffered greatly at the same time.
And at the time from the Balkans, from the Caucasus, there were millions of Muslim Turks who were displaced, who were having to come to travel to Turkey, and there were many losses as they traveled. So the losses there took place during the chaotic times of the situation then.
But when the Turkish republic -- the modern republic was established, the Turkish republic did not create this into big issue in order not to create greater hatred or hostility in future generations. But unfortunately, these issues politically, especially by the diaspora, have been brought to the agenda as a way to perhaps cling to their identity.
And our view to that has been that we should let the historians, the experts on the subject, sit down and talk about this issue. We are ready to face the realities, the facts. It cannot be the politicians and the legal experts who can make decisions here as to what happened when, under what conditions, and who lost more lives, and who is right and who is wrong. It is not a parliamentarian, a politician, who can make a decision on this without knowing the circumstances to the situation.
So that's why we suggested that a joint history commission be established and that we would agree to the results or the conclusions of this commission. And Turkey opened -- made its archives available for that purpose.
And we invited everyone, including the Armenians, and we took one more step forward and we said that if another country, for example, the United States or France, if they are very much interested in this issue, then they, too, could be a part of this joint commission and we would be ready to listen to the conclusions of that commission.
We, as Turkey, we would like to have good relations with all the countries in our region. Our relations with Armenia, unfortunately, did not exist so much, although there are some Armenian citizens in Turkey now -- there are more than 70,000 Armenians who work -- live in Turkey, who send money back to their families and there are some cultural activities. But we didn't have other relations. And our goal in order to normalize these relations, as Mr. President has just said, we initiated some discussions to normalize relations and we would like to see a good resolution of these discussions.
No doubt there's a new situation in the Caucasus. We saw how potential events could flare up in the Caucuses last year. So it's important that in this process we work together to try to resolve the issues in the Caucasus. We should work to resolve issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and all the conflict in the region so that the area becomes fertile ground for greater cooperation.
And we have a lot of work, with the best of intentions, in that regard, and I do believe that when we reach a conclusion we will have resolved many issues.
Q A question to both Presidents, both leaders. Mr. Obama, during the Bush presidency there were some difficulties in Turkish-American relations, and certain steps were taken to resolve those difficulties. We are in the third month of your presidency and there is a high expectation in the Turkish public opinion, as well, about Turkish-American relations. So what will be changes in your outlook on Turkish-American relations as opposed to the previous administration?
Another question to both Presidents. You said that you discussed fighting against terrorism. There's, again, a lot of expectation in the Turkish public opinion regarding the elimination of the PKK. What sort of concrete steps will we see in that regard?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: As I mentioned at the outset, I think despite some of the problems that we saw, beginning in 2003, that you have seen steady improvement between U.S.-Turkish relations. I don't think they ever deteriorated so far that we ceased to be friends and allies. And what I hope to do is to build on what is already a strong foundation. As I indicated earlier, commercial ties can be improved. That's an area where I think the President and I share a vision.
I think when it comes to our cooperation on terrorism, I've been very clear that PKK is on our terrorist watch list. As a NATO ally of Turkey's, we are very comfortable with providing them the assistance they need to reduce the threat. We have seen that cooperation bear fruit over the last several months, over the last year. You've seen a lessening of the attacks that have been taking place. We'll continue to provide that support, and President Gul and I discussed how we can provide additional support on that front. But we have been very clear that terrorism is not acceptable in any circumstances.
I think that where -- where there's the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation and a predominantly Muslim nation, a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents -- that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous; that there are not tensions, inevitable tensions, between cultures, which I think is extraordinarily important.
That's something that's very important to me. And I've said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is -- although as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.
I think Turkey was -- modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of principles, and yet what we're seeing is in both countries that promise of a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom, respectful of rule of law, respectful of freedom, upholding these values and being willing to stand up for them in the international stage. If we are joined together in delivering that message, East and West, to -- to the world, then I think that we can have an extraordinary impact. And I'm very much looking forward to that partnership in the days to come.
PRESIDENT GUL: Okay. Thank you.
END 2:16 P.M. (Local)
Full text of the US president's speech at Turkish Parliament
(Source: White House Press Office)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. Speaker, Madam Deputy Speaker, distinguished members, I am honored to speak in this chamber, and I am committed to renewing the alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people.
This is my first trip overseas as President of the United States. I’ve been to the G20 summit in London, and the NATO summit in Strasbourg, and the European Union summit in Prague. Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message to the world. And my answer is simple: Evet — yes. (Applause.) Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together — and work together — to overcome the challenges of our time.
This morning I had the great privilege of visiting the tomb of your extraordinary founder of your republic. And I was deeply impressed by this beautiful memorial to a man who did so much to shape the course of history. But it is also clear that the greatest monument to Ataturk’s life is not something that can be cast in stone and marble. His greatest legacy is Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy, and that is the work that this assembly carries on today. (Applause.)
This future was not easily assured, it was not guaranteed. At the end of World War I, Turkey could have succumbed to the foreign powers that were trying to claim its territory, or sought to restore an ancient empire. But Turkey chose a different future. You freed yourself from foreign control, and you founded a republic that commands the respect of the United States and the wider world.
And there is a simple truth to this story: Turkey’s democracy is your own achievement. It was not forced upon you by any outside power, nor did it come without struggle and sacrifice. Turkey draws strength from both the successes of the past, and from the efforts of each generation of Turks that makes new progress for your people.
Now, my country’s democracy has its own story. The general who led America in revolution and governed as our first President was, as many of you know, George Washington. And like you, we built a grand monument to honor our founding father — a towering obelisk that stands in the heart of the capital city that bears Washington’s name. I can see the Washington Monument from the window of the White House every day.
It took decades to build. There were frequent delays. Over time, more and more people contributed to help make this monument the inspiring structure that still stands tall today. Among those who came to our aid were friends from all across the world who offered their own tributes to Washington and the country he helped to found.
And one of those tributes came from Istanbul. Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid sent a marble plaque that helped to build the Washington Monument. Inscribed in the plaque was a poem that began with a few simple words: “So as to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.” Over 150 years have passed since those words were carved into marble. Our nations have changed in many ways. But our friendship is strong, and our alliance endures.
It is a friendship that flourished in the years after World War II, when President Truman committed our nation to the defense of Turkey’s freedom and sovereignty, and Turkey committed itself into the NATO Alliance. Turkish troops have served by our side from Korea to Kosovo to Kabul. Together, we withstood the great test of the Cold War. Trade between our nations has steadily advanced. So has cooperation in science and research.
The ties among our people have deepened, as well, and more and more Americans of Turkish origin live and work and succeed within our borders. And as a basketball fan, I’ve even noticed that Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur have got some pretty good basketball games. (Applause.)
The United States and Turkey have not always agreed on every issue, and that’s to be expected — no two nations do. But we have stood together through many challenges over the last 60 years. And because of the strength of our alliance and the endurance of our friendship, both America and Turkey are stronger and the world is more secure.
Now, our two democracies are confronted by an unprecedented set of challenges: An economic crisis that recognizes no borders; extremism that leads to the killing of innocent men and women and children; strains on our energy supply and a changing climate; the proliferation of the world’s deadliest weapons; and the persistence of tragic conflict.
These are the great tests of our young century. And the choices that we make in the coming years will determine whether the future will be shaped by fear or by freedom; by poverty or by prosperity; by strife or by a just, secure and lasting peace.
This much is certain: No one nation can confront these challenges alone, and all nations have a stake in overcoming them. That is why we must listen to one another, and seek common ground. That is why we must build on our mutual interests, and rise above our differences. We are stronger when we act together. That is the message that I’ve carried with me throughout this trip to Europe. That is the message that I delivered when I had the privilege of meeting with your President and with your Prime Minister. That will be the approach of the United States of America going forward.
Already, America and Turkey are working with the G20 on an unprecedented response to an unprecedented economic crisis. Now, this past week, we came together to ensure that the world’s largest economies take strong and coordinated action to stimulate growth and restore the flow of credit; to reject the pressures of protectionism, and to extend a hand to developing countries and the people hit hardest by this downturn; and to dramatically reform our regulatory system so that the world never faces a crisis like this again.
As we go forward, the United States and Turkey can pursue many opportunities to serve prosperity for our people. The President and I this morning talked about expanding the ties of commerce and trade. There’s enormous opportunity when it comes to energy to create jobs. And we can increase new sources to not only free ourselves from dependence of other energies — other countries’ energy sources, but also to combat climate change. We should build on our Clean Technology Fund to leverage efficiency and renewable energy investments in Turkey. And to power markets in Turkey and Europe, the United States will continue to support your central role as an East-West corridor for oil and natural gas.
This economic cooperation only reinforces the common security that Europe and the United States share with Turkey as a NATO ally, and the common values that we share as democracies. So in meeting the challenges of the 21st century, we must seek the strength of a Europe that is truly united, peaceful and free.
So let me be clear: The United States strongly supports Turkey’s bid to become a member of the European Union. (Applause.) We speak not as members of the EU, but as close friends of both Turkey and Europe. Turkey has been a resolute ally and a responsible partner in transatlantic and European institutions. Turkey is bound to Europe by more than the bridges over the Bosphorous. Centuries of shared history, culture, and commerce bring you together. Europe gains by the diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith — it is not diminished by it. And Turkish membership would broaden and strengthen Europe’s foundation once more.
Now, of course, Turkey has its own responsibilities. And you’ve made important progress towards membership. But I also know that Turkey has pursued difficult political reforms not simply because it’s good for EU membership, but because it’s right for Turkey.
In the last several years, you’ve abolished state security courts, you’ve expanded the right to counsel. You’ve reformed the penal code and strengthened laws that govern the freedom of the press and assembly. You’ve lifted bans on teaching and broadcasting Kurdish, and the world noted with respect the important signal sent through a new state Kurdish television station.
These achievements have created new laws that must be implemented, and a momentum that should be sustained. For democracies cannot be static — they must move forward. Freedom of religion and expression lead to a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state, which is why steps like reopening Halki Seminary will send such an important signal inside Turkey and beyond. An enduring commitment to the rule of law is the only way to achieve the security that comes from justice for all people. Robust minority rights let societies benefit from the full measure of contributions from all citizens.
I say this as the President of a country that not very long ago made it hard for somebody who looks like me to vote, much less be President of the United States. But it is precisely that capacity to change that enriches our countries. Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That’s why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. That’s why we prohibited — without exception or equivocation — the use of torture. All of us have to change. And sometimes change is hard.
Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.
Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History is often tragic, but unresolved, it can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past. And reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future. I know there’s strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915. And while there’s been a good deal of commentary about my views, it’s really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past. And the best way forward for the Turkish and Armenian people is a process that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive.
We’ve already seen historic and courageous steps taken by Turkish and Armenian leaders. These contacts hold out the promise of a new day. An open border would return the Turkish and Armenian people to a peaceful and prosperous coexistence that would serve both of your nations. So I want you to know that the United States strongly supports the full normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. It is a cause worth working towards.
It speaks to Turkey’s leadership that you are poised to be the only country in the region to have normal and peaceful relations with all the South Caucasus nations. And to advance that peace, you can play a constructive role in helping to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has continued for far too long.
Advancing peace also includes the disputes that persist in the Eastern Mediterranean. And here there’s a cause for hope. The two Cypriot leaders have an opportunity through their commitment to negotiations under the United Nations Good Offices Mission. The United States is willing to offer all the help sought by the parties as they work towards a just and lasting settlement that reunifies Cyprus into a bizonal and bicommunal federation.
These efforts speak to one part of the critical region that surrounds Turkey. And when we consider the challenges before us, on issue after issue, we share common goals.
In the Middle East, we share the goal of a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors. Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.
We know the road ahead will be difficult. Both Israelis and Palestinians must take steps that are necessary to build confidence and trust. Both Israelis and Palestinians, both must live up to the commitments they have made. Both must overcome longstanding passions and the politics of the moment to make progress towards a secure and lasting peace.
The United States and Turkey can help the Palestinians and Israelis make this journey. Like the United States, Turkey has been a friend and partner in Israel’s quest for security. And like the United States, you seek a future of opportunity and statehood for the Palestinians. So now, working together, we must not give into pessimism and mistrust. We must pursue every opportunity for progress, as you’ve done by supporting negotiations between Syria and Israel. We must extend a hand to those Palestinians who are in need, while helping them strengthen their own institutions. We must reject the use of terror, and recognize that Israel’s security concerns are legitimate.
The peace of the region will also be advanced if Iran forgoes any nuclear weapons ambitions. Now, as I made clear in Prague yesterday, no one is served by the spread of nuclear weapons, least of all Turkey. You live in a difficult region and a nuclear arm race would not serve the security of this nation well. This part of the world has known enough violence. It has known enough hatred. It does not need a race for an ever-more powerful tool of destruction.
Now, I have made it clear to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the United States seeks engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We want Iran to play its rightful role in the community of nations. Iran is a great civilization. We want them to engage in the economic and political integration that brings prosperity and security. But Iran’s leaders must choose whether they will try to build a weapon or build a better future for their people.
So both Turkey and the United States support a secure and united Iraq that does not serve as a safe haven for terrorists. I know there were differences about whether to go to war. There were differences within my own country, as well. But now we must come together as we end this war responsibly, because the future of Iraq is inseparable from the future of the broader region. As I’ve already announced, and many of you are aware, the United States will remove our combat brigades by the end of next August, while working with the Iraqi government as they take responsibility for security. And we will work with Iraq, Turkey, and all Iraq’s neighbors, to forge a new dialogue that reconciles differences and advances our common security.
Make no mistake, though: Iraq, Turkey, and the United States face a common threat from terrorism. That includes the al Qaeda terrorists who have sought to drive Iraqis apart and destroy their country. That includes the PKK. There is no excuse for terror against any nation. (Applause.) As President, and as a NATO ally, I pledge that you will have our support against the terrorist activities of the PKK or anyone else. These efforts will be strengthened by the continued work to build ties of cooperation between Turkey, the Iraqi government, and Iraq’s Kurdish leaders, and by your continued efforts to promote education and opportunity and democracy for the Kurdish population here inside Turkey.
Finally, we share the common goal of denying al Qaeda a safe haven in Pakistan or Afghanistan. The world has come too far to let this region backslide, and to let al Qaeda terrorists plot further attacks. That’s why we are committed to a more focused effort to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. That is why we are increasing our efforts to train Afghans to sustain their own security, and to reconcile former adversaries. That’s why we are increasing our support for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, so that we stand on the side not only of security, but also of opportunity and the promise of a better life.
Turkey has been a true partner. Your troops were among the first in the International Security Assistance Force. You have sacrificed much in this endeavor. Now we must achieve our goals together. I appreciate that you’ve offered to help us train and support Afghan security forces, and expand opportunity across the region. Together, we can rise to meet this challenge like we have so many before.
I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. (Applause.) In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.
I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country — I know, because I am one of them. (Applause.)
Above all, above all we will demonstrate through actions our commitment to a better future. I want to help more children get the education that they need to succeed. We want to promote health care in places where people are vulnerable. We want to expand the trade and investment that can bring prosperity for all people. In the months ahead, I will present specific programs to advance these goals. Our focus will be on what we can do, in partnership with people across the Muslim world, to advance our common hopes and our common dreams. And when people look back on this time, let it be said of America that we extended the hand of friendship to all people.
There’s an old Turkish proverb: “You cannot put out fire with flames.” America knows this. Turkey knows this. There’s some who must be met by force, they will not compromise. But force alone cannot solve our problems, and it is no alternative to extremism. The future must belong to those who create, not those who destroy. That is the future we must work for, and we must work for it together.
I know there are those who like to debate Turkey’s future. They see your country at the crossroads of continents, and touched by the currents of history. They know that this has been a place where civilizations meet, and different peoples come together. They wonder whether you will be pulled in one direction or another.
But I believe here is what they don’t understand: Turkey’s greatness lies in your ability to be at the center of things. This is not where East and West divide — this is where they come together. (Applause.) In the beauty of your culture. In the richness of your history. In the strength of your democracy. In your hopes for tomorrow.
I am honored to stand here with you — to look forward to the future that we must reach for together — and to reaffirm America’s commitment to our strong and enduring friendship. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
3:55 P.M. (Local)
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secrectary
For Immediate Release April 6, 2009
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND TURKISH PRIME MINISTER ERDOGAN
Prime Minister Erdogan's Office
5:05 P.M. (Local)
PRIME MINISTER ERDOGAN: (As translated.) Distinguished members of the press. Let me start by saying how pleased I am to have this opportunity to host the distinguished President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama.
We have had a very busy day in Ankara today and it will continue with a reception in Istanbul, and then we will have an ongoing -- a continuing program tomorrow, which will mean that the visit to Turkey will have been quite a busy one.
We have had opportunity as two strategic partners to review the status of our bilateral relations. We also have had opportunity to discuss regional issues such as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. In addition to discussing these issues, we've also discussed issues looking forward into the future, such as energy. And we had an opportunity to assess the recent development with respect to NATO. I do believe that our fight against terrorism will continue in the future with the same determination and the same solidarity.
And I would like to thank the President for the warm interest that he has shown to our country, Turkey. And I leave the floor to the President.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: First of all, I want to thank the Prime Minister as well as the entire Turkish government, from the President to the Speaker, for their extraordinary hospitality.
I had the opportunity to get to know the Prime Minister when we spent time together at the G20. I was impressed with his leadership and now I'm even more impressed because he gave a perfect summary of our conversation.
So just to reiterate what I said in my speech and what I've said throughout my visit, I think that Turkey is a critical strategic partner with the United States -- not just in combating terrorism, but in developing the kind of economic links, cultural links and political links that will allow both countries to prosper and I truly believe the entire region and the world to prosper.
So I'm very much looking forward to the partnership with Turkey and I'm convinced that under Mr. Erdogan and President Gul and their government are going to be excellent partners in that process.
5:10 P.M. (Local)
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 7, 2009
REMARKS OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
AT STUDENT ROUNDTABLE
Tophane Cultural Center
12:18 P.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Well, it is a great pleasure to be here. Let me begin by thanking Professor Rahmi Aksungur -- did I say that properly -- who is director of the university here. And I want to thank all the young people who've gathered together. This is a great privilege for me and I'm really looking forward to it.
I'm going to make a few remarks at the beginning and then I want to spend most of the time having an exchange and giving you an opportunity to ask -- ask questions of me and I may ask some questions of you.
So as I said yesterday, I came to Turkey on my first trip overseas as President for a reason, and it's not just to see the beautiful sights here in Istanbul. I came here to reaffirm the importance of Turkey and the importance of the partnership between our two countries. I came here out of my respect to Turkey's democracy and culture and my belief that Turkey plays a critically important role in the region and in the world. And I came to Turkey because I'm deeply committed to rebuilding a relationship between the United States and the people of the Muslim world -- one that's grounded in mutual interest and mutual respect.
Turkey and the United States have a long history of partnership and cooperation. Exchanges between our two peoples go back over 150 years. We've been NATO allies for more than five decades. We have deep ties in trade and education, in science and research. And America is proud to have many men and women of Turkish origin who have made our country a more dynamic and a more successful place. So Turkish-American relations rest on a strong foundation.
That said, I know there have been some difficulties in recent years. In some ways, that foundation has been weakening. We've had some specific differences over policy, but we've also at times lost the sense that both of our countries are in this together -- that we have shared interests and shared values and that we can have a partnership that serves our common hopes and common dreams.
So I came here to renew that foundation and to build on it. I enjoyed visiting your parliament. I've had productive discussions with your President and your Prime Minister. But I also always like to take some time to talk to people directly, especially young people. So in the next few minutes I want to focus on three areas in which I think we can make some progress: advancing dialogue between our two countries, but also advancing dialogue between the United States and the Muslim world; extending opportunity in education and in social welfare; and then also reaching out to young people as our best hope for peaceful, prosperous futures in both Turkey and in the United States.
Now, let me just talk briefly about those three points.
First, I believe we can have a dialogue that's open, honest, vibrant, and grounded in respect. And I want you to know that I'm personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement. We can't afford to talk past one another, to focus only on our differences, or to let the walls of mistrust go up around us.
Instead we have to listen carefully to each other. We have to focus on places where we can find common ground and respect each other's views, even when we disagree. And if we do so I believe we can bridge some of our differences and divisions that we've had in the past.
A part of that process involves giving you a better sense of America. I know that the stereotypes of the United States are out there, and I know that many of them are informed not by direct exchange or dialogue, but by television shows and movies and misinformation. Sometimes it suggests that America has become selfish and crass, or that we don't care about the world beyond us. And I'm here to tell you that that's not the country that I know and it's not the country that I love.
America, like every other nation, has made mistakes and has its flaws. But for more than two centuries we have strived at great cost and sacrifice to form a more perfect union, to seek with other nations a more hopeful world. We remain committed to a greater good, and we have citizens in countless countries who are serving in wonderful capacities as doctors and as agricultural specialists, people -- teachers -- people who are committed to making the world a better place.
We're also a country of different backgrounds and races and religions that have come together around a set of shared ideals. And we are still a place where anybody has a chance to make it if they try. If that wasn't true, then somebody named Barack Hussein Obama would not be elected President of the United States of America. That's the America I want you to know.
Second, I believe that we can forge a partnership with Turkey and across the Muslim world on behalf of greater opportunity. This trip began for me in London at the G20, and one of the issues we discussed there was how to help peoples and countries who, through no fault of their own, are being very hard hit by the current world economic crisis. We took some important steps to extend a hand to emerging markets and developing countries by setting aside over a trillion dollars to the International Monetary Fund and by making historic investments in food security.
But there's also a larger issue of how Turkey and America can help those who have been left behind in this new global economy. All of our countries have poverty within it. All of it -- all of our countries have young people who aren't obtaining the opportunities that they need to get the education that they need. And that's not just true here in Turkey or in the United States, but that's true around the world. And so we should be working together to figure out how we can help people live out their dreams.
Here there's great potential for the United States to work with Muslims around the world on behalf of a more prosperous future. And I want to pursue a new partnership on behalf of basic priorities: What can we do to help more children get a good education? What can we do to expand health care to regions that are on the margins of global society? What steps can we take in terms of trade and investment to create new jobs and industries and ultimately advance prosperity for all of us? To me, these are the true tests of whether we are leaving a world that is better and more hopeful than the one we found.
Finally, I want to say how much I'm counting on young people to help shape a more peaceful and prosperous future. Already, this generation, your generation, has come of age in a world that's been marked by change that's both dramatic and difficult. While you are empowered through unprecedented access to information and invention, you're also confronted with big challenges -- a global economy in transition, climate change, extremism, old conflicts but new weapons. These are all issues that you have to deal with as young people both in Turkey and around the world.
In America, I'm proud to see a new spirit of activism and responsibility take root. I've seen it in the young Americans who are choosing to teach in our schools or volunteer abroad. I saw it in my own presidential campaign where young people provided the energy and the idealism that made effort possible. And I've seen it wherever I travel abroad and speak to groups like this. Everywhere I go I find young people who are passionate, engaged, and deeply informed about the world around them.
So as President, I'd like to find new ways to connect young Americans to young people all around the world, by supporting opportunities to learn new languages, and serve and study, welcoming students from other countries to our shores. That's always been a critical part of how America engages the world. That's how my father, who was from Kenya, from Africa, came to the United States and eventually met my mother. It's how Robert College was founded so long ago here in Istanbul.
Simple exchanges can break down walls between us, for when people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, then their common humanity is revealed. We are reminded that we're joined together by our pursuit of a life that's productive and purposeful, and when that happens mistrust begins to fade and our smaller differences no longer overshadow the things that we share. And that's where progress begins.
So to all of you, I want you to know that the world will be what you make of it. You can choose to build new bridges instead of building new walls. You can choose to put aside longstanding divisions in pursuit of lasting peace. You can choose to advance a prosperity that is shared by all people and not just the wealthy few. And I want you to know that in these endeavors, you will find a partner and a supporter and a friend in the United States of America.
So I very much appreciate all of you joining me here today. And now what I'd like to do is take some questions. I think we've got -- do we have some microphones in the audience? So what I'd like to do is people can just raise their hands and I'll choose each person -- if you could stand up and introduce yourself. I have a little microphone in my pocket here in case you're speaking Turkish, because my Turkish is not so good -- (laughter) -- and I'll have a translator for me.
Okay? All right. And I want to make sure that we end before the call to prayer, so we have about -- it looks like we have about half an hour. All right? Okay, we'll start right here.
Q I'm from the university. I want to ask some questions about climate issue. Yesterday you said that peace in home and peace in world, but to my opinion, firstly the peace should be in nature. For this reason, I wonder that when the USA will sign the Kyoto Protocol.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's an excellent question. Is this mic working? It is? Okay. Thank you very much. What was your name?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: As many of you know, I think the science tells us that the planet is getting warmer because of carbon gases that are being sent into the atmosphere. And if we do not take steps soon to deal with it, then you could see an increase of three, four, five degrees, which would have a devastating effect -- the oceans would rise; we don't know what would happen to the beauty of Istanbul if suddenly the seas rise. Changing weather patterns would create extraordinary drought in some regions, floods in others. It could have a devastating effect on human civilization. So we've got to take steps to deal with this.
When the Kyoto Protocol was put forward, the United States opted out of it, as did China and some other countries -- and I think that was a mistake, particularly because the United States and -- is the biggest carbon -- has been the biggest carbon producer. China is now becoming the biggest carbon producer because its population is so large. And so we need to bring an international agreement together very soon.
It doesn't make sense for the United States to sign Kyoto because Kyoto is about to end. So instead what my administration is doing is preparing for the next round, which is -- there will be discussions in Copenhagen at the end of this year. And what we want to do is to prepare an agenda both in the United States and work internationally so that we can start making progress on these issues.
Now, there are a number of elements. Number one, we have to be more energy efficient. And so all countries around the world should be sharing technology and information about how we can reduce the usage of electricity, and how we can make our transportation more efficient, make our cars get better gas mileage. Reducing the amount of energy we use is absolutely critical.
We should also think about are there ways that if we're using fossil fuels -- oil, coal, other fossil fuels -- are there ways of capturing or reducing the carbon emissions that come from them?
So this is going to be a big, big project and a very difficult one and a very costly one. And I don't want to -- I don't want to lie to you: I think the politics of this in every country is going to be difficult, because if you suddenly say to people, you have to change your factory to make it more energy efficient -- well, that costs the factory owner money. If you say to a power plant, you have to produce energy in a different way, and that costs them money, then they want to pass that cost on to consumers, which means everybody's electricity prices go up -- and that is something that is not very popular.
So there are going to be big political struggles in every country to try to ratify an agreement on these issues. And that's why it's going to be so important that young people like yourself who will be suffering the consequences if we don't do something, that you are active politically in making sure that politicians in every country are responsive to these issues and that we educate the public more than we have so far.
But it is excellent question, thank you.
All right, this gentleman right here.
Q Thank you. I'm studying at Bahcesehir University, and my major is energy engineering, so --
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, there you go. You could have given an even better answer.
Q Yes, I hope we will solve that problem in the future. So my question is, what actions will you take after you wrote quote, peace at home, peace at the world, to do --
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?
Q What actions will you take after you wrote your quote, peace at home and peace at the world, to -- (inaudible) -- and what do you think, as Turkish young men and women, how can we help you at this purpose you have?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, some people say that maybe I'm being too idealistic. I made a speech in Prague about reducing and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, and some people said, ah, that will never happen. And some people have said, why are you discussing the Middle East when it's not going to be possible for the Israelis and the Palestinians to come together? Or, why are you reaching out to the Iranians, because the U.S. and Iran can never agree on anything?
My attitude is, is that all these things are hard. I mean, I'm not naïve. If it was easy, it would have already been done. Somebody else would have done it. But if we don't try, if we don't reach high, then we won't make any progress. And I think that there's a lot of progress that can be made.
And as I said in my opening remarks, I think the most important thing to start with is dialogue. When you have a chance to meet people from other cultures and other countries, and you listen to them and you find out that, even though you may speak a different language or you may have a different religious faith, it turns out that you care about your family, you have your same hopes about being able to have a career that is useful to the society, you hope that you can raise a family of your own, and that your children will be healthy and have a good education -- that all those things that human beings all around the world share are more important than the things that are different.
And so that is a very important place to start. And that's where young people can be very helpful, because I think old people, we get into habits and we become suspicious and we carry grudges. Right? You know, it was interesting when I met with President Medvedev of Russia and we actually had a very good dialogue, and we were -- we spoke about the fact that although both of us were born during the Cold War, we came of age after the Cold War had already begun to decline, which means we have a slightly different attitude than somebody who was seeing Russia only as the Soviet Union -- only as an enemy or who saw America only as an enemy.
So young people, they can get rid of some of the old baggage and the old suspicions, and I think that's very important. But understanding alone is not enough. Then you -- we actually have to do the work.
And for the United States, I think that means that we have to make sure that our actions are responsible, so on international issues like climate change we have to take leadership. If we're producing a lot of pollution that's causing global warming, then we have to step forward and say, here's what we're willing to do, and then ask countries like China to join us.
If we want to say to Iran, don't develop nuclear weapons because if you develop them then everybody in the region is going to want them and you'll have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and that will be dangerous for everybody -- if we want to say that to Iranians, it helps if we are also saying, "and we will reduce our own," so that we have more moral authority in those claims.
If we want to communicate to countries that we sincerely care about the well-being of their people, then we have to make sure that our aid programs and our assistance programs are meaningful.
So words are good and understanding is good, but ultimately it has to translate into concrete actions. And it takes time. I was just talking to my press team and they were amused because some of my reporter friends from the States were asking, how come you didn't solve everything on this trip? They said, well, you know, it's only been a week. These things take time and the idea is that you lay the groundwork and slowly, over time, if you make small efforts, they can add up into big efforts. And that's, I think, the approach that we want to take in promoting more peace and prosperity around the world.
Okay, let me make sure I get all sides of the room here. This young lady right here.
Q In one of your interviews you said you want us to be a member of the European Union. But after that, Nicolas Sarkozy said, it's not yours, it's European Union decision. Now I want to ask you that what's your opinion, and why Nicolas Sarkozy said that? Is that because he's more likely to support the so-called Armenian genocide?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, the -- I don't think -- well, first of all, it's true, I'm not a member of -- the United States is not a member of the European Union, so it's not our decision to make. But that doesn't prevent me from having an opinion. I mean, I notice the Europeans have had a lot of opinions about U.S. policy for a long time, right? They haven't been shy about giving us suggestions about what we should be doing, so I don't think there's anything wrong with us reciprocating. That's what friends do -- we try to be honest about what we think is the right approach.
I think it is the right approach to have Turkey join the European Union. I think if Turkey can be a member of NATO and send its troops to help protect and support its allies, and its young men are put in harm's way, well, I don't know why you should also not be able to sell apricots to Europe, or have more freedom in terms of travel.
So I think it's the right thing to do. I also think it would send a strong signal that Europe is not monolithic but is diverse and that that is a source of strength instead of weakness. So that's my opinion.
Now, President Sarkozy is a good friend and a good ally. As I said, friends are going to sometimes disagree on this. I haven't had a lengthy conversation with him about his position on this issue. My hope is, is that as time goes on and as trust builds, that this is ultimately something that occurs.
I don't get a sense that his opposition is related to the Armenian issue. I don't think that's it. I think it's a more fundamental issue of whether he's confident about Turkey's ability to integrate fully. But you'll probably have to ask him directly. So maybe when he comes here he'll have a town hall meeting like this one.
Okay, the gentleman right there. Yes, go ahead. Here's a microphone.
Q First, I will ask about the Bush and you differences at the core, because some say just the face has changed and that -- but core is the same still. They will have a fight with the Middle East and they will have a fight with Iran.
And my second question is more in part to this. You will let the Kurdish state in northern Iraq? You will let -- you'll allow this?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay, the --
Q Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes. Well, let me answer -- I'll answer the Kurdish question first. You know, we are very clear about our position on Turkish territorial integrity. Turkey is an ally of ours and part of what NATO allies do is to protect the territorial integrity of their allies. And so we are -- we would be opposed to anything that would start cutting off parts of Turkey, and we have been very supportive in efforts to reduce terrorist activity by the PKK.
Now, I also think that it's important that the Kurdish minority inside of Turkey is free to advance in the society and that they have equal opportunity, that they have free political expression, that they are not suppressed in terms of opportunity. And I think that the President and Prime Minister are committed to that, but I want to continually encourage allowing -- whether it's religious minorities or ethnic minorities -- to be full parts of the society. And that, I think, is very, very important.
The first question, if I understood you correctly, is the suggestion that even though I present a different face from Bush, that the policies are the same and so there's really not much difference.
And, you know, I think this will be tested in time because as I said before, moving the ship of state is a slow process. States are like big tankers, they're not like speedboats. You can't just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead you've got to slowly move it and then eventually you end up in a very different place.
So let me just give you a few examples. When it comes to Iraq, I opposed the war in Iraq. I thought it was a bad idea. Now that we're there, I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don't see a complete collapse into violence. So some people might say, wait, I thought you were opposed to the war, why don't you just get them all out right away? Well, just because I was opposed at the outset it doesn’t mean that I don't have now responsibilities to make sure that we do things in a responsible fashion.
When it comes to climate change, George Bush didn’t believe in climate change. I do believe in climate change, I think it's important. That doesn’t mean that suddenly the day I'm elected I can say, okay, we're going to turn off all the lights and everybody is going to stop driving. Right? All I can do is to start moving policies that over time are going to obtain different results.
And then it is true, though, that there are some areas where I agree with many of my friends in the United States who are on the opposite political party. For example, I agree that al Qaeda is an enormous threat not just to the United States but to the world. I have no sympathy and I have no patience for people who would go around blowing up innocent people for a political cause. I don't believe in that.
So, yes, I think that it is just and right for the United States and NATO allies and other allies from around the world to do what we can to eliminate the threat of al Qaeda. Now, I think it's important that we don't just do that militarily. I think it's important that we provide educational opportunities for young people in Pakistan and Afghanistan so that they see a different path. And so my policies will be somewhat different, but I don't make any apologies for continuing the effort to prevent bombs going off or planes going into buildings that would kill innocents. I don't think any society can justify that.
And so, as I said, four years from now or eight years from now, you can look back and you can see maybe what he did wasn’t that different, and hopefully you'll come to the conclusion that what I did made progress.
Yes, this young lady right here.
Q First of all, welcome to our country, Turkey. I would like to continue in Turkish if it's possible.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, let me -- wait, wait, wait. See, I've got my --
Q Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hold on.
Q (As translated.) My first question is that in the event that Turkey becomes an EU member, what -- how will that -- how is that --
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay, try again.
Q In the event that Turkey becomes a member of the EU, how will that affect U.S. foreign policy and the alliance of civilizations? And my second question is a little more personal. We watched your election with my American friends. Before you were elected, my friends who said that they were ashamed of being Americans, after you were elected said that they were proud to be Americans. This is a very sudden and big change. What do you think the reason is for this change?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, the United States friendship with Turkey doesn't depend on their EU membership. So even if Turkey continued not to be a member of the EU, the United States in our bilateral relations and in our relations as a NATO ally can really strengthen progress. And I had long discussions with the President and the Prime Minister about a range of areas where we can improve relations, including business and commerce and trade.
We probably can increase trade between our two countries significantly, but we haven't really focused on it. Traditionally the focus in Turkish-American relations has been around the military and I think for us to broaden that relationship and those exchanges could be very important.
You know, in terms of my election, I think that what people felt good about was it affirmed the sense that America is still a land of opportunity. I was not born into wealth. I wasn't born into fame. I come from a racial minority. My name is very unusual for the United States. And so I think people saw my election as proof, as testimony, that although we are imperfect, our society has continued to improve; that racial discrimination has been reduced; that educational opportunity for all people is something that is still available. And I also think that people were encouraged that somebody like me who has a background of living overseas, who has Muslims in his family -- you know, that I might be able to help to build bridges with other parts of the world.
You know, the American people are a very hopeful people. We're an optimistic people by nature. We believe that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. And that is one of the qualities of America that I think the world appreciates. You know, sometimes people may think that we are -- we aren't realistic enough about how the world works and we think that we can just remake the world without regard to history, because we're still a relatively new nation. Compared to Turkey and how old this civilization is, America is still very new.
And so it's true that I think we believe that things can happen very fast and that transformations in politics or in economics or in science and technology can make our lives better overnight.
So sometimes we need more patience. But I also think the world needs to have a sense – (drop in audio feed). That's a good thing and that we don't have to always be stuck with old arguments. I mean, one thing that is interesting about Europe as I travel around is, you know, you hear disputes between countries that date back to a hundred years, a thousand years -- people are still made about things that happened a very long time ago.
And so one thing America may have to offer is an insistence on looking forward and not always looking backwards.
Okay, I only have time for one more question. I'll give it to this gentleman right here.
Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait -- I’ve got to get my earplug.
Q I thank you for the opportunity to ask you a question. Right now I am in the Turkish language and literature faculty of this university. How do you assess the Prime Minister's attitude in Davos? Had you been in the same situation, would you have reacted the same way?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think very highly of your Prime Minister. I've had a chance now to talk with him first in London. I had spoken to him on the phone previously, but we had the opportunity to meet in London during the G20, and then we've been obviously having a number of visits while I've been here in Turkey.
And so I think that he is a good man who is very interested in promoting peace in the region and takes great pride I believe in trying to help work through the issues between Israel and its neighbors. And Turkey has a long history of being an ally and a friend of both Israel and its neighbors. And so it can occupy a unique position in trying to resolve some of these differences.
I wasn't at Davos so I don't want to offer an opinion about how he responded and what prompted his reaction. I will say this -- that I believe that peace in the Middle East is possible. I think it will be based on two states, side by side: a Palestinian state and a Jewish state. I think in order to achieve that, both sides are going to have to make compromises.
I think we have a sense of what those compromises should be and will be. Now what we need is political will and courage on the part of leadership. And it is not the United States’ role or Turkey's role to tell people what they have to do, but we can be good friends in encouraging them to move the dialogue forward.
I have to believe that the mothers of Palestinians and the mothers of Israelis hope the same thing for their children. They want them not to be vulnerable to violence. They don't want, when their child gets on a bus, to worry that that bus might explode. They don't want their child to have to suffer indignities because of who they are. And so sometimes I think that if you just put the mothers in charge for a while, that things would get resolved.
And it's that spirit of thinking about the future and not the past that I just talked about earlier that I think could help advance the peace process, because if you look at the situation there, over time I don't believe it's sustainable.
It's not sustainable for Israel's security because as populations grow around them, if there is more and more antagonism towards Israel, over time that will make Israel less secure.
It's not sustainable for the Palestinians because increasingly their economies are unable to produce the jobs and the goods and the income for people's basic quality of life.
So we know that path is a dead end, and we've got to move in a new direction. But it's going to be hard. A lot of mistrust has been built up, a lot of anger, a lot of hatred. And unwinding that hatred requires patience. But it has been done. You know, think about -- my Special Envoy to the Middle East is a gentleman named George Mitchell, who was a senator in the United States and then became the Special Envoy for the United States in Northern Ireland. And the Protestants and the Catholics in Northern Ireland had been fighting for hundreds of years, and as recently as 20 years ago or 30 years ago, the antagonism, the hatred, was a fierce as any sectarian battle in the world.
And yet because of persistent, courageous efforts by leaders, a peace accord was arrived at. A government that uses the democratic process was formed. And I had at the White House just a few weeks ago the leader of the Protestants, the leaders of Catholics in the same room, the separatists and the unionists in the same room, as part of a single system. And so that tells me that anything is possible if we're willing to strive for it.
But it will depend on young people like you being open to new ideas and new possibilities. And it will require young people like you never to stereotype or assume the worst about other people.
In the Muslim world, this notion that somehow everything is the fault of the Israelis lacks balance -- because there's two sides to every question. That doesn't mean that sometimes one side has done something wrong and should not be condemned. But it does mean there's always two sides to an issue.
I say the same thing to my Jewish friends, which is you have to see the perspective of the Palestinians. Learning to stand in somebody else's shoes to see through their eyes, that's how peace begins. And it's up to you to make that happen.
All right. Thank you very much, everybody. I enjoyed it. (Applause.)
1:03 P.M. (Local)
Armenian FM Nalbandian, Swiss FM Calmy-Rey, Turkish undersecretary of FM Apakan Turkish FM Babacan US President Obama Istanbul Reception Apr 6 2009 White House photo by Pete Souza
VIDEO: Part 2 of Obama's speech to Turkish Parliament
VIDEO: Obama's Q&A session with Turkish students
PART I of Obama's Q&A session