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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Prof. Dr. Vamık D. Volkan:
 "Turkey should really set aside its emotional holdbacks, and request a real politic framework
to be set between the two countries through President Obama."
 
 
 
AP (Ankara)
 
 
 
President Barack Obama on Monday visited the imposing mausoleum of the national founder and independence war hero in a highly symbolic gesture at the start of his visit to predominantly Muslim but secular Turkey.
 
Obama slowly climbed the massive flight of stairs and passed through soaring stone columns of red, white and green marble to lay a red-and-white wreath at the huge sarcophagus of  Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,  whose personality cult dominates the nation seven decades after his death. He observed a moment of silence under the gold mosaic ceiling.
 
Obama's arrival in Ankara was a diplomatic victory for Turkey, which often felt ignored or taken for granted under the previous U.S. administration.
 
Obama seeks Turkey's help in the U.S. pullout from Iraq, turning around the Afghanistan war and blocking Iran's nuclear ambitions. Turkey is a member of NATO and a long U.S. ally. Before his arrival late Sunday, Obama told EU leaders to accept Turkey as a member, saying it would be a positive sign to the Muslim world.
 
Turkey, seen as a bridge between the West and the Muslim world, has also tried to bring about peace between Israel and both Syria and the Palestinians.
 
"An alliance of civilizations is possible, we should determinedly deal with radicalism," Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an opening speech of the Alliance of Civilizations, a forum sponsored by Turkey and Spain to promote understanding between the Western and Islamic worlds. "We have to think about steps to eliminate polarization. The first step should be developing tolerance. It is difficult to erase and eradicate the prejudices. it will take time to eradicate hostile feelings." In reference to Afghanistan, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said: "We want Afghanistan to be able to stand on its feet. We want to reconcile the civilian population to put an end to terror."
 
Obama will meet with Turkish leaders and address the parliament in Ankara before traveling to Istanbul to attend a reception of the Alliance of Civilizations later Monday. One of the most contentious issues for Obama may be the Armenian genocide resolution before Congress. Obama supported the resolution during the 2008 presidential campaign, and Turks are worried that he will support it as president, which would be a break from both his two immediate predecessors who opposed it.
 
Ankara warns that the resolution could strain ties between the allies and harm efforts to improve ties with neighboring Armenia.
 
 
Obama is a leader who is capable of saying no to violence and terrorism using religion.

"Turkey should really set aside its emotional holdbacks, and request a real politic framework to be set between the two countries through President Obama," Vamık D. Volkan, a psychoanalyst, Emeritus Profesor of  the University of Virginia, a scholar who had studied extensively the psychology of international relationships said in an interview to us. "This will no doubt create a healthy communication channel between Turkey and Armenia to be able to produce positive results in the short term."
 
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies the deaths were genocide, saying those killed were victims of civil war, and the number of deaths is highly inflated.
 
Dr. Volkan, meanwhile, said Obama was carefully avoding the exploitatition of religion in his messages of peace.

"Obama is a leader who is going to sustain peace and human rights across the world, and who will not entertain any concession in doing so," Dr. Volkan said. "Obama is a leader who is capable of saying no to violence and terrorism using religion."
 
Dr. Volkan stressed that Obama was aiming to convey a symbolic message to predominantly Muslim Turkey. "Obama has just opened a new historical page," he said. " Turkey has been chosen as the host for this new page, and that is why Obama's visit to Turkey is a historical milestone in Turkish-American relationships." He said: " Turkey should be very careful for example as regard to human rights and using religion for political purposes."
 
 
Vamık Djemal Volkan:
Dr. Vamık Djemal Volkan is an Emeritus Professor of  Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, an Emeritus Training and Supervising Analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Washington, DC., and the Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
Copyright © Vamık D. Volkan and Özler Aykan 2007.
 
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Last modified on: May 28, 2012