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Ambassador to U.S. from Turkey Talks About Syria, Iran

Namik Tan

February 1, 2011 – Turkey’s ambassador to the United States came to Georgetown Feb. 1 and spoke about his country’s role in the Middle East, including the ongoing conflict in Syria and concern about Iran’s nuclear program.

Namik Tan, who previously served as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, said the Syrian people are fighting for the same goals that those in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya fought for: democracy, freedom and justice.

“To ignore the will of the people will lead to nowhere,” he said. “We stand by the legitimate goals of the Syrian people.”

A Chess Game

The Institute of Turkish Studies, Center of Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Lecture Fund sponsored Tan’s lecture.

The ambassador said the Syrian government should listen to its people, and that it “failed to correctly analyze the events in the region” last year that led to the removal of longtime heads of state in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

He described the current situation in Iran as one of a chess game that all parties – Iran and those opposed to its nuclear program – must play with patience and a bottom line.

“We don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Robust and Resilient

Tan also spoke about Turkey’s relationship with the United States.

He said that relationship has evolved over the years into a strategic partnership as both countries achieve common interests economically, culturally and socially.

“The success of this relationship depends on how to battle storms that come our way,” Tan said, but described the countries’ partnership as “robust, relevant and resilient.”

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