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It is a pleasure to be back in Ankara. I'm particularly pleased to be here at Bilkent University. America is proud to be participating in various ways in what is happening on this splendid campus. When this institution first opened its doors to students in 1986 as modern Turkey's first private university, few would have predicted that, just nine years later, it would become one of Turkey's top centers of higher learning. In my own country, private and state universities have long coexisted and the competition for excellence between the two has significantly raised the quality of education and the quality of public discourse to the benefit of the nation as a whole. Outstanding universities, such as this one, teach good citizenship and thus serve as bulwarks of democracy.
It was fitting, therefore, that when Prime Minister Ciller spoke here last month, she spoke about democracy. She argued eloquently that the work of building a truly open society is never done; democracy is, by definition, an ongoing process. Her message is relevant not just to Turkey but to the whole world, including the United States. American democracy, too, is a work in progress. Moreover, democracy is a collaborative work. Supporters of the ideal and the process the world over reinforce and learn from each other. So we are working together on democracy not just here, but everywhere it has taken root.
There is another task on which Turkey and the United States are working together - building the institutions and habits of cooperation that promote international peace and prosperity. This challenge, too, has been the focus of Turkish-American collaboration. For nearly half a century, our two countries stood side by side in the cause of freedom. In no small measure because the United States and Turkey were allies in the Cold War, that conflict is now over. But our work is not over, there is still unfinished business. We are as much allies in the post-Cold War world as we were during the Cold War. If we continue to act together, we can seize a historic opportunity not just to combat new threats but also to shape a world that reflects our shared ideals and promotes our common interests.
This afternoon, I want to talk about how we can make the most of this opportunity. I'd like to begin - and I hope you will not find this presumptuous - by relating your national experience in the 20th century to President Clinton's vision of an international order in the 21st. Turkey's efforts to define statehood and civil society in the post-imperial phase of its own history offer valuable lessons to other countries, particularly to those who are just now emerging from the wreckage of Soviet-style communism and who, therefore, now have another chance at building civil societies of their own.
Modern Turkey and the Soviet Union were born about the same time - under similar circumstances. I thought of this earlier today as I was laying a wreath at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Both the Turkish Republic and the Soviet Union represented great revolutionary experiments launched in the wake of World War I and the collapse of empires. The Soviet experiment lasted for over seven decades. It ended in paralysis, disintegration, and self-defeat, primarily because the political and economic system betrayed the hopes and needs of its own citizens.
The Soviet experiment failed for another reason, too. It failed because the commissars were every bit as imperialistic as the Czars had been - both both in the way they dealt with non-Russian populations within the U.S.S.R. and in their behavior toward the outside world.
Turkey's experiment was, at its core, very different. In …