Obama covered various issues in his speech including the global economic crisis, Turkey's European Union bid, energy policies, Middle East conflicts, Iran and the ongoing normalization period between Turkey and Armenia. The U.S. President also used this opportunity to urge for better communication with the Muslim world.
"Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message. My answer is simple: Evet ('Yes' in Turkish). Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together – and work together – to overcome the challenges of our time," Obama told in his 45-minutes-long speech.
The U.S. and Turkey had disagreements time to time, but the two countries have stood together through many challenges over the last sixty years and because of the strength of this alliance and the endurance of this friendship, both America and Turkey are stronger, and the world is more secure, Obama added.
"So in meeting the challenges of the 21st century, we must seek the strength of a Europe that is truly united, peaceful and free. Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports Turkey’s bid to become a member of the European Union. We speak not as members of the EU, but as close friends of Turkey and Europe. Turkey has been a resolute ally and a responsible partner in transatlantic and European institutions. And Turkey is bound to Europe by more than bridges over the Bosporus," Obama said in his speech.
Obama praised Turkey's reforms in its EU accession bid but urged more steps to be taken. He urged for the reopening of Halki seminary and the strengthening of minority rights.
The two democracies are confronted by an unprecedented set of challenges, Obama said and defined them as an economic crisis that recognizes no borders; extremism that leads to the killing of innocent men, women and children; strains on our energy supply and a changing climate; the proliferation of the world’s deadliest weapons, and the persistence of tragic conflict.
Messages to the Islamic world
The president declared that the U.S. is not at war with Islam and it will never be. "In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a violent ideology that people of all faiths reject. But I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaeda. Far from it. We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect," he added.
He pledged to be respectful, even when there are disagreements and to convey America's deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better.
"The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country – I know, because I am one of them," he added.