IR Students Meet Diplomats from the US Embassy

Stefanie Altman-Winans, the deputy cultural attaché at the US Embassy, and retired ambassador Onur Gökçe, lecturer in the Department of International Relations, organized a meeting between US Embassy officials and Bilkent IR students on March 19 during class hours.
Ms. Winans, in her introductory remarks, stated that such meetings were a very important part of the embassy\'s youth engagement activities and that it was a great pleasure to be on the Bilkent campus to meet with university students. Presentations were also made by four other staff officers from the embassy: press attaché and spokesman T. J. Grubisha; foreign service officer Tom Coleman, responsible for trade, investment, intellectual property and entrepreneurship matters in the embassy\'s economic section; Andrew Hay, staff aide to the ambassador; and Alisande Pipkin, foreign service officer for consular affairs.
After the staff officers provided brief overviews of their areas of responsibility at the embassy, the meeting continued with questions from the students, which focused mainly on the past and future of Turkey-US relations and US policies in the region. The diplomats emphasized the extent of the improvement and deepening of relations between the two countries, and the fact that Turkey had become a top-priority country for the US under the Obama administration. Mr. Grubisha said that the relationship between the US and Turkey had moved to a more institutionalized framework and was not limited to security matters as before but now also focused on trade, which was noticeably increasing.
Many questions were asked about US policies in the Middle East, Syria, Iraq and Libya, to which the visitors responded diplomatically as expected, dwelling on the framework of the improved relations between Turkey and the US, and the growing importance of Turkey for the US and the region. The atmosphere of the meeting was characterized by warmth and candor on both sides.