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Turkish Media Praise "Helal Obama"

Today's front page from the Hurriyet newspaper. (Kevin Sullivan/The Washington Post)

By Liz Heron and Utku Cakirozer
On President Obama's second day in Turkey, the country's top newspapers are examining expectations for his visit and noting the effect of Obamamania on a population that has been deeply skeptical of the U.S. in previous years. Newspaper Web sites are analyzing Obama's historic speech to the Turkish Parliament, with most carrying the full text translated into Turkish.

A front page headline in the popular newspaper Hurriyet proclaimed, in English, "Welcome Mr. President." The newspaper's message to Obama seemed to reflect the way many Turks feel about Obama's visit: "You are in a country that is a friend of the United States. However, you broke our hearts during the last 8 years. Now it is time to fix it."

Taraf is reporting the findings of a recent poll: 52 percent of Turks have confidence in Obama, a major shift from Turks' negative feelings toward President Bush. "If [Obama] runs, he can even win the elections in Turkey," Taraf writes.

Hurriyet compared excitement over the president's visit to the famous Rorschach inkblot test: "Everybody sees, or wants to see, something else in the flurry of meetings" Obama will attend Monday. While Obama will reach out to the current government, Turkey's opposition leaders are hoping his visit will give them a chance to raise concerns over issues they deem problematic, including the controversial question of how to handle the country's ethnic Kurdish population.

Milliyet led with President Obama's call to European leaders in Prague to let Turkey be a member of the European Union, but notes that French leader Nicholas Sarkozy has kept up his opposition to Turkey's membership.

Pro-government and Islamist newspaper Yeni Safak is focusing on another dimension of President Obama's call to European leaders in Prague, reporting on his request that they make peace with Islam by letting Turkey in the EU.

Another major daily, Sabah, praised Obama's call to the EU leaders, calling him "Helal Obama." Helal is a common Muslim term used to describe good things. Sabah called the visit a "symbol of hope in Turkey."

All the other major dailies -- Vatan, Radikal and Cumhuriyet -- ran similar headlines highlighting Obama's support for Turkey's EU membership.

Zaman notes Obama's promise during his speech to Parliament to stay out of Turkey and Armenia's effort to restore relations, which have been strained since 1915 because of intense disagreement over whether the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians just after the first World War. Obama said it was not up to him to resolve the dispute, but praised ongoing negotiations between the Turks and Armenians to resolve many long-standing problems.

By Paul Volpe  |  April 6, 2009; 2:27 PM ET
Categories:  Obama Abroad  
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At least it's not "racist" dementia.

Posted by: JakeD | April 7, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Support for Alan Keyes only confirms that you are suffering from dementia.

Posted by: marSF | April 7, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

How am I "pinned" (I just got back from golfing no less)? I've explained that raccoon post several times -- it's not my fault the WaPo kept reporting on it -- there was nothing nefarious on my part, including the many questions I had at the time. No one has "pinned" me as a racist, that's for sure, since I supported AFRICAN-AMERICAN Alan Keyes for President.

Posted by: JakeD | April 7, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Having the great pleasure of working within the Armenian community in California, I find them very intelligent, peaceful and peace loving people. They overwhelmingly supported President Obama in the last election. I pray with the Armenians and the Turks, in support of their efforts to bring to a conclusion, the separation caused by the genocide question. If nothing else, maybe they can agree to disagree.

Posted by: JimB90069 | April 7, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The refusal of modern Turkey, and its present-day government, to come to terms with what was done by a FORMER Turkish government (and Turks of another generation entirely, almosta century ago) is irrational and inscrutable.

Eventually, Turkey IS going to have to come to terms with this, and better sooner than later. As far as joining the EU, how ironic this would be, when the law in the EU prohibits denying the German Holocaust against the Jews (this is a stupid law, but it IS their law), while the law in Turkey effectively prohibits acknowledging the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians (at least, if we have been told the truth about a law in Turkey against "impugning Turkishness", and how it has been applied).

The United States eventually had to face up to what previous generations of European-Americans did to the indigenous people of this continent, and to Africans and their descendants who were held here in slavery... it didn't kill us to finally recognize and acknowledge that these people were victimized, that what was done to them was morally wrong. WE weren't even born yet when it happened, and are not personally responsible for the acts of others, but it was still important for us all to understand and acknowledge the facts. The same applies to the current generation of Turks...they aren't personally responsible for what their ancestors did, but its still important that they recognize and acknowledge the facts of their own history.

The reasons for Turks' harsh treatment of the Armenians were real enough (questions about the loyalty of a mainly-Christian ethnic group to the Ottoman Caliphate, at war against mainly-Christian powers like Russia and England)... but those reasons can't justify murdering innocent people, and they certainly don't justify denying history.

Posted by: Observer44 | April 7, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

You've pinned him, JRM2.

Posted by: nodebris | April 6, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

"Turkey and Armenia's effort to restore relations, which have been strained since 1915 because of intense disagreement over whether the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians just after the first World War."

Wakey, wakey. The First World War was from 1914 to 1918. It's one thing an American getting it wrong, that's normal, but Utku Cakirozer is clearly a Turk and shouldn't make such a basic mistake about key events in his country's history.

Posted by: bourassa1 | April 6, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama's stature with the Muslim world will be short lived if he continues killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and keeps giving weapons and money to Israel. Obama kept Bush's defense secretary Robert Gates, and commanding general David Petraeus and most of Bush's other military leaders. Change is something that is only happening at home where taxes are up, new domestic spending is the order of the day, and everyone will soon be required to quit smoking and buy a hybrid car.

Posted by: XLiberalJack | April 6, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Then I think the proper plaintiff, with legal standing, is your Godot - you seem confused by the reference - Google "waiting for Godot."

To claim that nothing is lacking in the deposing of a fraudulent president but the "proper plaintiff, with LEGAL STANDING," is to claim that there is not one patriot in the service of the United States government.

Well - every man must have his quest, eh? Far be it from me to dissuade you from the pursuit of your noble Grail, floating as I imagine it does before your eyes as you tirelessly roam San Diego's restaurants, marinas and golf courses...adieu, Sir Knight...

Posted by: achilli | April 6, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

"...Instead of the Easter Egg roll, are they going to use watermelons this year?"

Posted by: JakeD | February 25, 2009 4:4"
OK, then THIS is all you need to know about JakeD.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 6, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, O.K., the Samuel Beckett play. Now I get it. See you all in a few days.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Godot? If I replace "taunt" with "educate" then no, I do not think it is an emotional disorder. The proper plaintiff, who had LEGAL STANDING, brought Bush v. Gore to the Supreme Court. We have not seen that yet re: Obama. Next question?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

True about the raw eggs - anybody who spent any time in the country knows that raccoons are always raiding birdnests.

Taunts - not taunts...whatever. Please to insert activity name of your choice in place of "taunts" and answer my question, if you would.

Prior to the Supreme Court issuing a ruling on the merits, they would have to agree to take it up - which they thus far have shown no inclination to do. I'm sure anyone with a law degree is capable of contrasting the alacrity with which the Supremes jumped into Bush v. Gore back in 2000, and their complete disinterest regarding Obama's eligibility - ?

You're waiting for Godot, my friend.

Posted by: achilli | April 6, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I could just be living in a van, down by the river (with high-speed Internet connection no less ; )

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse


I'm not taunting anyone, and I've never said that these blog comments mean anything other than idle water cooler talk as well. The people in a position to decide (at least at the Supreme Court) have NOT issued any ruling on the merits.


I know for a fact that they like raw eggs (those were a couple of WaPo threads about trying to trap raccoons), ergo perfectly legitimate questions to ask.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey folks, this is all you need to know about JakeD:

"Raccoons love raw eggs too. Was this one caught in the Oval Office? Instead of the Easter Egg roll, are they going to use watermelons this year?"

Posted by: JakeD | February 25, 2009 4:4


Posted by: JRM2 | April 6, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Retired - I see.

JakeD, I'm sure that even though your formal training is in the realm of law and not (presumably) psychiatry/psychology, you realize that an apparently insatiable desire to go online and taunt supporters of our new president is evidence of some degree of emotional disorder - right?

And even though you're not entirely sure that Obama is legally president, the people who are in a position to decide that DO believe he is legally president. So, that's pretty much that, except for water-cooler talk like we all are having here - ? I mean, we can say all we want on the internet, true or false, crazy, sane, up, down, etc....and it doesn't mean a damned thing.

Posted by: achilli | April 6, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Allow me to clarify: any citizen can peacefully "petition" the government for anything he / she wants to, but there is NO Constitutional provision for an earlier election so that type of "petition" would be useless.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm not mad at all. Any objective person can read my posts vs. your posts and see that. I do, however, hope that most Armenian-Americans see the error of their ways and vote for Palin or whomever the Republicans put up against Obama in 2012 (there's no Constitutional way to "petition" for an earlier election). Next canard?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

JakeD: You better start petitioning for a new election! Who knows?
Those Armenians be energized now to vote for Sarah Palin. All is not lost!

Posted by: marSF | April 6, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

JakeD: "Mad"? That would be you.

As far as "refuting" anything, for all I know you could be living in a van down by a river somewhere in Alabama.

Posted by: marSF | April 6, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

To get back on topic, I agree with kszimmerman that Obama took the easy way out while in Turkey. Let's see if there's any blowback here at home. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were only 117,575 American citizens of full or partial Turkish descent living here. Of course Obama, during the campaign, went after the Armenian-Americans (estimated at over 1.5 million). Who knows, maybe it could have made a difference in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, etc.?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

U.S. President, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama'nın visit Turkey, especially the Republic of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's grave for the visit and there Anıtkabir "peace at home peace in the world" to quote President Andullah Gul, opposition party leaders in Parliament and then call Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey with Parlementosunda speech and the messages, has been met with a great pleasure in Turkey. Obama'nın naturalness and messages, the messages oldu.Tüm U.S. welcomed halkınında Turkey, to choose a president like Obama kutluyoruz.M.Kemal Aycicek editor

Posted by: mkaycicek | April 6, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse


YOU were the one who claimed: "I am sure you were at the 'All You Can Eat Surf and Turf' buffet all weekend!"

Don't get mad simply because I refute your claim.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse


No, I'm retired.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

oh JakeD, you are just trying much too hard. Dropping the names of restaurants and boasting about how much cash you waste on hotels in White Trash Disneyland does not somehow excuse the endless hours you fritter away posting here. I am sure your professors at "Stanford" were not grooming you to wage The Good Fight Against NObama here in WaPo Blog-land.

Maybe the real world is just too scary. Have fun on your "yacht" and watch out for those NorCal Hippies!

Posted by: marSF | April 6, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

U.S. President, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and "buddy" is. Turkey's "broken the hearts of the" re-won. Thank you Obama

Posted by: mkaycicek | April 6, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Law degree from Stanford - sailing, tee time,'re not one of those past-his-sell-by-date law partners who monopolize a corner office generating like 10 billable hours a week, while the associates do all the actual wealth creation, are you?

Posted by: achilli | April 6, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

U.S. President, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, Turkey's "broken the hearts of the" re-won. Thank you Obama

Posted by: mkaycicek | April 6, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Obama Must Talk Turkey to the Turks

Despite traditional closeness, President Obama will face a Turkish public that is much less receptive than those of Europe. The Turks today increasingly identify with the rest of the Muslim World, and the clearest manifestation of this is to dislike America. We believe that the real cause of this drift away from the West, however, may not actually be America’s fault. but because of Europe’s dithering over letting Turkey into the EU. But hating George Bush and the War on Iraq has been so much easier for the Turks than dealing with the painful rejection from Europe. Given this fact, President Obama’s priorities in Turkey is restoring America’s prestige takes priority over any policy discussion. The President’s job to reach out and reestablish America’s standing with the Turkish people, and through them, with the Muslim World as a whole.

Posted by: manishyt | April 6, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I have a law degree from Stanford (so much for "no education"), and there was no "all-you-can-eat" line at the Bouchon restaurant ; )

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

JakeD: Of course! I am sure you were at the "All You Can Eat Surf and Turf" buffet all weekend! Sad that you missed out on hangin' with the all the "Birthers"! They look like a super fun crowd of unhappy fat people with no education!

Posted by: marSF | April 6, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse


Reagan had the balls to tell Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.


We were in Vegas.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Jake D - I doubt the Turkish media would have been so complimentary if he had mentioned the genocide. That's probably why he didn't do it - it's a *goodwill* trip, natch.

Is he guilty of making false campaign promises? He might be! Is that the best you can come up with? And, to be fair, he didn't say he'd label it a genocide in front of the Turkish Parliament.

Posted by: kszimmerman | April 6, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

JakeD. They missed you in Kentucky this past weekend:

Posted by: marSF | April 6, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The speech in Turkey today was a major step in the right direction in healing relations with the Muslim world. Bush may have intimated the same thing in regard to "not a war on Islam," but it was mostly empty rhetoric. This isn't.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 6, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse


First of all, I do not believe that Obama is legally President of the United States. Second, I will be sailing this afternoon, and I have an early tee time in the morning. Next canard?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

How would JakeD spend the all the empty hours of his miserable life if he didn't have the Obama Presidency to constantly whine about?

Posted by: marSF | April 6, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Would the Turkish media have praised Obama if he had kept his campaign promise to label the Armenian slaughter of 1915 a "genocide"?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

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