GeriGündem He’s bright, he’s charming, he’s cool, but...
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He’s bright, he’s charming, he’s cool, but...

He’s bright, he’s charming, he’s cool, but...
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ANKARA - Turkey hailed U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit as a turning point in relations with the United States, but his visit appears to have left people on the streets dazed and confused.

Descriptions of Obama range from "the smiling face of imperialism" to "a member of the family." "He couldn’t gain my confidence. Capitalism and imperialism have simply disguised themselves in a more smiling and friendly mask. We haven’t seen his deeds yet. Is it possible for U.S. foreign policies, which were fixed far before Obama, to demonstrate a change? It is impossible," said Ahsen A., 19-year-old university student at Ankara’s Gazi University.

Many aspects of the public image of Obama have been deemed promising and unusual, not only among Americans, but also among Turks who likewise hoped to see a U.S. president in firm contrast to his predecessor, George Bush. Obama’s sympathetic manners, perceived even-tempered personality and Muslim identity appear to have won the hearts of Turks.

Some say he is likely to smash the deep-rooted anti-Americanism and long-held stereotype of America’s negative and selfish image in Turkey, but not everyone seems to have been convinced by his performance. Some went crazy as traffic chaos doubled during Obama’s presence while for others his Muslim identity was sufficient to nourish new hope for a better future for Turkey.

"He is very sympathetic, friendly and witty. His Muslim identity can contribute to the better relations between Turkey and the U.S. Obama has changed my stark stance toward the U.S.," said university student Hilal Algan, 20.

"I found Obama pretty well intentioned. I was impressed particularly by his manners while he was visiting the mosques in Istanbul. He was so fascinated with what he saw. He is fairly young and inexperienced. I hope he will not be abused by the experienced politicians," said homemaker Perihan Öztürk, 65.

The youth were more skeptical toward what Obama said while the adults seemed more inclined to believe him.

Some, meanwhile, took offense at Obama’s coming to Turkey with full equipment. "Is he suspicious about Turkey and Turkish people that he even brought his toilet and water from the U.S.?" said homemaker Sevim Çetinkol, 70. "

For 16-year-old university student Gözde Aktekin, the traffic chaos created by the extraordinary security measures taken to protect Obama were a limitation put on the liberty of the people.

"Obama offers economic cooperation, but the economic crisis already emerged in the U.S. If he had a remedy, he would have solved the problem in his own country," Aktekin said.

Shop assistant Münevver Arısoy, 39, complained about the lack of customers during Obama’s stay in Ankara because of the traffic jam. She also found Obama selfish."The customers couldn’t come to the city center for shopping because of the blocked roads. " Arısoy said.

For simit-seller Barış Tunçbilek, 21, Obama seemed gentle and his manners made him feel closer to the United States and its people, while for civil servant Huriye Erdoğan, 42, Obama was like a member of her family. "He is a credible personality. His name is Hussein, a Turkish name, and he is black, which makes me feel sympathy for him. I think Obama can repair the U.S.’s negative image," Erdoğan said.

University student Emre Yampal, 22, said Obama was more promising after the Bush administration but his emphasis on his Muslim identity was solely a trick. "He simply wants to gain sympathy from Turks and make Turkey what the U.S. wants by highlighting his Muslim identity in a Muslim-dominated country. Time will show how successful Obama will be," Yampal said.
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