Obama on the Record: Turkey Town Hall

So young people, they can get rid of some of the old baggage and the old suspicions, and I think that’s very important. But understanding alone is not enough. Then you — we actually have to do the work.

And for the United States, I think that means that we have to make sure that our actions are responsible, so on international issues like climate change we have to take leadership. If we’re producing a lot of pollution that’s causing global warming, then we have to step forward and say, here’s what we’re willing to do, and then ask countries like China to join us.

If we want to say to Iran, don’t develop nuclear weapons because if you develop them then everybody in the region is going to want them and you’ll have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and that will be dangerous for everybody — if we want to say that to Iranians, it helps if we are also saying, “and we will reduce our own,” so that we have more moral authority in those claims.

If we want to communicate to countries that we sincerely care about the well-being of their people, then we have to make sure that our aid programs and our assistance programs are meaningful.

So words are good and understanding is good, but ultimately it has to translate into concrete actions. And it takes time. I was just talking to my press team and they were amused because some of my reporter friends from the States were asking, how come you didn’t solve everything on this trip? They said, well, you know, it’s only been a week. These things take time and the idea is that you lay the groundwork and slowly, over time, if you make small efforts, they can add up into big efforts. And that’s, I think, the approach that we want to take in promoting more peace and prosperity around the world.

Okay, let me make sure I get all sides of the room here. This young lady right here.

Q In one of your interviews you said you want us to be a member of the European Union. But after that, Nicolas Sarkozy said, it’s not yours, it’s European Union decision. Now I want to ask you that what’s your opinion, and why Nicolas Sarkozy said that? Is that because he’s more likely to support the so-called Armenian genocide?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, the — I don’t think — well, first of all, it’s true, I’m not a member of — the United States is not a member of the European Union, so it’s not our decision to make. But that doesn’t prevent me from having an opinion. I mean, I notice the Europeans have had a lot of opinions about U.S. policy for a long time, right? They haven’t been shy about giving us suggestions about what we should be doing, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us reciprocating. That’s what friends do — we try to be honest about what we think is the right approach.

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