Remarks on Visit to TurkeyMarc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
John Taylor, Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs
Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
December 28, 2002
UNDER SECRETARY TAYLOR
UNDER SECRETARY TAYLOR: We’ve had a very good visit to Ankara. As you know, we came at the invitation of Minister Babacan, and we discussed three basic issues. One is the state of the Turkish economy, two is the economic reforms, and three is the economic assistance that the U.S. is discussing with Turkey in the event of a possible conflict in Iraq. On the state of the Turkish economy, we’ve seen a real improvement in performance since the last visit I had here earlier this year. Then, we thought growth was going to be around 3 percent, and it’s turning out to be close to 7 percent – a big improvement. We’ve also seen inflation coming down much more than most had forecast. These are two significant accomplishments on the way to recovery from the crisis of last year. We also talked about the economic reforms, and the commitment of the new government to maintain the economic reforms on the fiscal side, on the monetary side – keeping inflation low – and working on the structural reforms as well. Progress is very good. On the economic assistance package, we’ve also made some good progress. We’ve established an agreement on the overall structure of the assistance, providing flexibility and adaptability that is needed to provide confidence and security to the markets. It’s overall been a good set of talks on all three grounds. Since we’re standing here in front of the Foreign Ministry, I would like Under Secretary Grossman to also make a few remarks.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you very much, and thank you all for coming here this morning. It’s been an honor for me to be part of Under Secretary Taylor’s delegation which, as he said, arrived here at the invitation of Minister for the Economy Babacan. I would also like to thank our Turkish hosts and pay tribute to Ambassador Pearson and his team here in Ankara. As all of you know, this is, for us, a continuation of a series of consultations which has intensified over the past few weeks. We’re always pleased to be here in Turkey. I would say that this round of consultations has, from my perspective, allowed us to take steps forward to ensure that the common vision that Turkey and the United States have – that Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime should quickly, now, meet its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1441 – is realized, and that there are things that we can do together. I have full confidence that these consultations will continue, and I very much look forward to being a part of them, and we’re very pleased to be here today. As most of you know, we have an airplane to catch, but we’re glad to take a couple of questions if there are some.
QUESTION: A question for Mr. Taylor. What you said on the third point is very vague. Turkish predictions for its economic loss amount to 28 billion dollars, according to certain sources. Will you be able to provide the compensation for these losses? Could you please make it a bit more concrete? What you are suggesting as far as economic support in the case of a war in Iraq?
UNDER SECRETARY TAYLOR: We focused on trying to make our assistance as effective as possible, as flexible as possible. So the overall magnitudes are not the thing that we have focused on. We have focused on trying to make it useful for Turkey in the event of a conflict. We would emphasize that our purpose is to avoid conflict. Our assistance package is part of preparations, but the purpose here is to avoid a conflict.
QUESTION: Can you comment about your – Washington’s – requests, and how Turkey has replied? We know that the National Security Council meeting has taken some decisions which seem to be very vague. How do you respond to those decisions, first of all? And second, are you satisfied with the answers to the requests of Washington?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First, let me say it’s not for me to discuss the decisions of the National Security Council of Turkey. That is a Turkish responsibility. We had a very good consultation and conversation with Under Secretary Ziyal and his team today. He conveyed to us the sense of the National Security Council, and we conveyed to him our report of where we stand. Those consultations will continue. We’re very satisfied with the consultation and the cooperation we have from our Turkish ally. Thank you very much.