GeriGündem ’We will listen carefully and seek common ground’
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’We will listen carefully and seek common ground’

’We will listen carefully and seek common ground’
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ANKARA - US President Barack Obama speaks in Turkish Parliament on his last stop on his first European tour in office. The symbolism is grand as Obama praises Turkey’s history and the role it can play today as he expresses compassion for Muslim people.

In his historic speech at Parliament yesterday, the U.S. president hailed Turkey as a democratic-secular country and the entire Muslim world as a partner, conveying to them messages of dialogue and a common 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 mingle. And they wonder whether you will be pulled in one direction or another," U.S. President Barack Obama told Turkish lawmakers in his half-hour speech.

"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 Ğ it is where they come together. In the beauty of your culture. In the richness of your history. In the strength of your democracy. In your hopes for tomorrow." Stressing the importance of the Turkey’s democratic identity and cooperation between the Turkey and United States, Obama said Turkey’s democracy was Turkey’s own achievement and that it was not forced upon the country by any outside power.

"This morning I had the privilege of visiting the tomb of the great founder of your Republic. 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 and secular democracy, and that is the work that this assembly carries on today," Obama said.
Referring to his country’s achievement of democracy, Obama said it also took decades to build democracy in the U.S. and that it was achieved thanks to contribution from all across the world.

"One of those tributes came from Istanbul. Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid 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, and I quote: ’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," Obama said.

It was perhaps not his much-expected address to the Muslim world but Obama did give important messages to the people of Islam from Ankara. "I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds us has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject," Obama said. He said as the U.S. they were not at war with Islamic countries, hinting at the country’s wish for establishing a dialogue with the Islamic world. Stating that America’s relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al-Qaeda, Obama said they sought broad engagement based on mutual interest and respect.



Seeking common ground

"We will listen carefully, bridge misunderstanding, and seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. And we will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better Ğ including my own country," he said. "The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country Ğ I know, because I am one of them." Obama said his efforts would be to help those children and vulnerable people who are in need of health care and education in the Muslim society, noting that they will seek utilization of investment opportunities with the Muslim world. "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," he said.
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