Vamık D. Volkan, M.D., DLFAPA, FACPsa.

Özler Aykan
April 06, 2009, Washington, USA.
Obama's Turkey visit is a historic milestone... 
Özler Aykan:                         You are a renowned scientist. Moreover, we're closely following your work. You follow Turkish-American relations closely. In this context, I would like you to make an analysis about Obama's personality from the point of view of a pscyhoanalyst.
Vamık D. Volkan:                 It is not early to talk about Obama's personality because he is a leader whose personality is explicit. Before Obama, the American people suffered from great anxiety. As if their psyhcology is ruined. The people has been recently recovering psychologically and emotionally investing in their new leader Obama and most importantly they trust him Obama is a very positive and restorer leader.
Ö.A.:                                      What do you mean with restorer leader? Is not it a premature description?
V.V.:                                       No not at all. It is so obvious... First of all, Obama is a peaceful leader. He knows how to listen and speak, and is doing this sincerely. Look, there are two important points which he made both before the elections and repeating them at every platform but using different processes of the diplomacy. First, the whole world regarded the United States as a country which gives great importance to Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights. But the people were deeply disappointed during the term of George W. Bush and a policy contrary to America's image was pursued. Iraq War has devastated the American people. The people fell in depression. Human Rights were violated. But now Obama has given confidence to his people and said without any conditions and as a standing rule an "end to Oppression and violation of human rights!" Obama is a leader who will expand peace and human rights and who will not give any concessions on that. I would like to bring your attention to his one of most important saying or attitude. Obama is approaching issues scientifically and definitely not using religion as a cover. What I mentioned above that unconditional rule is this. Obama does not want religion to be used as a tool for any issue or anything else. He has seriously relieved the American public on this. He is a leader who can say an end to oppression and violence by using religion. This is very important.
Ö.A.:                                      Is Obama a Muslim?
V.V.:                                       No he is not, but he has Muslims in his ancestry and roots that's it. It is not an important issue that much. But we can't say Obama is a Muslim.
Obama’s visit to Turkey will be Turkey's honour... 
Ö.A.:                                     What you will say about his selection of Turkey as his first visit to a Muslim country?
V.V.:                                      From Turkey's point, this isssue is more important. Look, he preferred to make his first to a Muslim country to "SECULAR MUSLIM REPUBLIC OF TURKEY." He is giving us, Turkey and the whole world a symbolic message and he is plainly making his attitude clear. The Turkish government and its representatives must understand and respond to this very well. The era of George W. Bush is in the past and Obama turned a new page in the history. This page is being opened in Turkey and I think  because of this “Obama’s Turkey visit is a milestone in Turkish-American relations." Turkey must be very careful and understand Obama's remarks well. 
                                              For example, Turkey must act very carefully in human rights and in the issue of religion. The timing of Obama’s visit to Turkey is also extremely important. The issue has to be evaluated within its realpolitic boundaries. Let's see how Turkey will respond to this. It must comprehend thi visit well. Within this context, I can't estimate Turkey's attitude. But there is no doubt that its reaction is important. Turkey is a country which plays an important role between the West and the Islamic world. It is as if returning to the Ottoman era. On the other hand, Turkey has been unjustly embrassed in its relations with the EU. That's why I insist that Obama's visit to Turkey will be Turkey's honour! It will give an important message to all countries!
          America's invasion of Iraq is a permanent stain in American history... 
Ö.A.:                                      The main purpose of President Obama's visit to Turkey is said to offer cooperation to Turkey in Afghanistan. What do you think?
V.V.:                                       Yes, this issue has been on the agenda and discussed in the American media. I can answer your question based on personal conviction. Yes, I think he will offer cooperation but this cooperation will be definitely different from demands of George W. Bush. It will be aimed for peace and democracy, not aimed for violence, war and oppression. While Bush's target was Bin Laden he invaded Iraq and led to the killing of thousands of people, human rights violated. There were oppression. This incident a permanent stain in U.S. history. According to me, Obama will never make this mistake. Because he is not a destroyer, but a restrorer leader who believes he can solve problems through dialogue and realpolitic. We can already observe his approach.
Ö.A.:                                      Do you think there is a difference between the styles of Mr. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Obama?
V.V.:                                      Yes there is. Mr. Erdoğan is acting a bit ill-tempered and I heard Obama has been briefed about this. There are rumours that they're worried about Erdogan's these attitudes. Mr. Erdogan should act calmly within limits of respect. He should not repeat his mistake in Davos. Yes, on one hand his reaction in Davos wass right but it was against diplomatic traditions and Turkey's leader should not be advertised in the world as ill-tempered. He must eliminate Obama's concerns. I think he will.
Ö.A.:                                     The Global crisis has opened serious wounds in America as well as many other countries. How is the pyschology of the American people?
V.V.:                                      How they can be? They're furious and very furious. Because they've suffered great economic losses and worried about their future. But they trust our new President Obama and waiting for his reforms with excitement. We can say that Obama’s election as president has releived the bulk of the American people because they trust him very much. Before Obama, America was in a state of psychological collapse. We have to watch developments. A thorny road is waiting Obama in the field of economy. The success of his advisors is very important.
Turkey should ask Obama to prepare a Realpolitik environment between Turkey and Armenia!
Ö.A.:                                      Why you are stressing on realpolitik in Turkish-Armenian relations?
V.V.:                                       Because there was no result in previous processes. If there is a new start of realpolitik, which is not difficult, under the auspieces of Obama by leaving aside emotional processes then you will see there will be a healthier ground for communication which can yield to positive results in the short term. For this reason, I suggest Turkish Government officials to bring this to the agenda during their meeting with Obama. Just yesterday, I received an invitation from an adviser to our President's wife, Hayrunisa Gül.
                                               There will be a meeting in May with the participation of famous figures about "How violence can be prevented" I admired this very much.  Turkey must take such steps. Her initiative made me so happy. First of all, her organization of such a meeting is an important step in showing respect to women. This meeting stands for Turkish women who say "We're here!" we can make politics. And they've invited so many important people. I am proud of it.
Ö.A.:                                      Thank you very much. Finally, is there a new book?
V.V.:                                       Your terrorism analysis is giving extremely important information to me... This month, my book "Fanustaki İnsanlar" will be published in Turkey. After that the English language version of "Searching for a Perfect Woman" is coming. A new edition of "Immortal Atatürk" which I wrote together with Norman Itzkowitz is also being prepared and this time it will be published in Russian. Separately, we're preparing a text book containing my 30 years of experiences in politic pyschology. It will be published by Oa Publishing in Turkish, English and French.
Ö.A.:                                      Thank you very much.
V.V.:                                       Thank you Özler. It was nice to meet you again.




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Last modified on: May 28, 2012