Saturday, March 07, 2009

Middle East and Europe Trip: Turkish Delight!

Secretary Clinton arrived for a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul at the foreign ministry in Ankara today.

"We share a commitment to democracy, a secular constitution, respect for religious freedom and belief and in free market and a sense of global responsibility," she said after the meeting for their press conference.

Also during this press conferece, she made the announcement that President Barack Obama is expected to visit Turkey in April. The Obama administration is looking at its partnership with Turkey to stabilize the situation in Iraq, help mediate in indirect talks between Syria and Israel, and help through the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

On Iraq, Washington and Ankara are consulting on ways Turkey can help facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Turkey has said it is ready to serve as an exit route for the Americans. The U.S. air base at Incirlik, Turkey, has been used for transfer of U.S. troops and equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan."We have to discuss what will pass, what kind of equipment," Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said at a news conference with Clinton. "We are ready to cooperate."

And on Syria Clinton said this: “A peace between Syria and Israel, normalization of relations is something that would be part of an agenda of a comprehensive peace effort for the Middle East. We will consult closely with Turkey as we move forward. The importance of this track of the peace effort cannot be overstated, and Turkey has played a very important role."

We saw the direct effects of the new U.S. enagement with Syria play out today. Jeffrey D. Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and Daniel B. Shapiro, a senior director at the National Security Council — met for three and a half hours with Syria’s foreign minister, its deputy prime minister and other officials.

“We found a lot of common ground today. It’s our view that Syria can play a constructive role in the region,” commented Feltmen.

Aside from her scheduled meetings, Hillary attends a wreath-laying ceremony and pays her respects to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at Anitkabir, where Turkey’s hero is laid to rest. This man fought for democracy and women’s rights. He may be most known for giving Turkish women the right to vote in 1934, possibly following the lead of America granting women the right to vote in 1920.

In the Guest Book, she wrote a lovely passage: “It is an honor to visit once again on behalf of my country to show our honor and respect for the founder of this great country and demonstrate the friendship of the American people.”

Watch raw footage of the wreath laying here.

In addition to her talks with Turkish leaders, Clinton also appeared on a popular TV talk show that focuses on women's issues. NTV taped a special edition of their popular show “Haydi Gel Bizimle Ol” with translates to “Come Along with Me” with Secretary Clinton. The idea of the show was for the Secretary to meet with young people over coffee, which is the traditional Turkish greeting.

She was so very well received, and just like in Indonesia, she tackled a few diplomatic questions but the main focus was on her personal life. One question was when she "last" fell in love.

"It was so long ago, with my husband" was her reply. "We have been talking to each other and enjoying our life together ever since."

When asked what she missed most about private life: shopping for herself and sitting around in pavement cafes, drinking coffee and "people-watching."

"I sacrificed a lot of my privacy, which I regret," she said, but she made sure to be clear that the benefits of public service are huge.

"You can't have everything, you have to make some choices and I am very excited that I get a chance to serve my country in working with President Obama," she said.

She was asked about First Lady Michelle Obama. "I was a first lady and I know how important that role is. I think Michelle Obama is doing a wonderful job and she is also balancing her responsibilities very well. She has two young children and she has put their well-being first, because it is hard when your father is elected president and you are still a child."

Another question was about a comment she made in which she thanked her husband for "a lifetime of — all kinds of experiences." The woman asked how she coped with those experiences. She said she relied on forgiveness, friends, family and faith.

"Oh, love! And forgiveness, and friendship, and family. You know, family, faith, friends are the core of my life and I don't know anybody whose life is smooth sailing. If you meet such a person I'd like to know him because I've lived a long time and I've yet to meet such a person," she said.

What an amazing trip! The word is that the State Department jet is already up in the air on it's way home. Happy flying!

No comments:

Post Your Comment Below:

Grab this Widget ~ Blogger Accessories