Obama on the Record: Turkey Town Hall

Q Yes, I hope we will solve that problem in the future. So my question is, what actions will you take after you wrote quote, peace at home, peace at the world, to do –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m sorry, could you repeat the question?

Q What actions will you take after you wrote your quote, peace at home and peace at the world, to — (inaudible) — and what do you think, as Turkish young men and women, how can we help you at this purpose you have?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, some people say that maybe I’m being too idealistic. I made a speech in Prague about reducing and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, and some people said, ah, that will never happen. And some people have said, why are you discussing the Middle East when it’s not going to be possible for the Israelis and the Palestinians to come together? Or, why are you reaching out to the Iranians, because the U.S. and Iran can never agree on anything?

My attitude is, is that all these things are hard. I mean, I’m not naïve. If it was easy, it would have already been done. Somebody else would have done it. But if we don’t try, if we don’t reach high, then we won’t make any progress. And I think that there’s a lot of progress that can be made.

And as I said in my opening remarks, I think the most important thing to start with is dialogue. When you have a chance to meet people from other cultures and other countries, and you listen to them and you find out that, even though you may speak a different language or you may have a different religious faith, it turns out that you care about your family, you have your same hopes about being able to have a career that is useful to the society, you hope that you can raise a family of your own, and that your children will be healthy and have a good education — that all those things that human beings all around the world share are more important than the things that are different.

And so that is a very important place to start. And that’s where young people can be very helpful, because I think old people, we get into habits and we become suspicious and we carry grudges. Right? You know, it was interesting when I met with President Medvedev of Russia and we actually had a very good dialogue, and we were — we spoke about the fact that although both of us were born during the Cold War, we came of age after the Cold War had already begun to decline, which means we have a slightly different attitude than somebody who was seeing Russia only as the Soviet Union — only as an enemy or who saw America only as an enemy.

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