Thursday, December 4, 2008

Turkophilia in Texas

From TDZ:
Harmony School of Innovation students performed folkloric dances for the opening ceremony of the Turquoise Center. (top)
Congressman Al Green, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Turkish Consul General in Houston Atilla Uzer at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Turkish cultural center in Houston. (bottom)
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright yesterday joined a ribbon cutting ceremony for a local Turkish cultural center, Turquoise Center, in Houston, Texas.

At the beginning of the ceremony, a group of American students from the Harmony School of Innovation performed Turkish folk dances in traditional costume. Turkey's consul general in Houston, Atilla Uzer, joined the ribbon cutting ceremony along with Albright and Congressman Al Green, a Democrat representing Texas' Ninth District.

. . . .

Albright agreed, saying, "I would agree with the congressman in terms of saying how important it is you have this beautiful institute and center here in this community." She also recalled that she hadn't been born in the US, but was a naturalized citizen, just as many are in America's Turkish community. "Watching these beautiful children perform the dances for me was a sentimental moment since I also used to wear my Czech national costume, really remembering my own background."

She continued: "I also am very, very happy to spend time thinking about the great alliance between the United States and Turkey. We are NATO allies, we are friends, we are countries that have a common goal in seeking peace internationally and in the region. And Turkey, increasingly, is playing the role within its region that is so essential to maintaining peace and stability."

She added that she thought İstanbul was her favorite city in the world, saying it was "fantastic."

"It was mentioned that I was chairman of [the] National Democratic Institute. Among the things that I am very proud of is the work we have been doing in and with Turkey, where, in fact, we have held seminars which explain that Islam and democracy are natural friends and allies, that there is no contradiction in those terms. And Turkey is an amazing example of that and of how to evolve to a very strong and functioning democracy. So [this is] another reason why we need to be grateful for what is happening in Turkey," she said. "So I am very honored to be here as a part of this important celebration. And I consider myself a Turkophile of major proportions."
And, again, an appropriate time to thank the Harmony School in Fort Worth, Texas, for taking the time to arrange a Turkish language examination for me.

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