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Interview by CNN Turk

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Washington, DC
July 25, 2003

QUESTION: Now, like what has changed? Gul came in, and a kind of a reception of prime minister, ministerial reception -- incredible. I haven't seen that yet. What's that mean here?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First of all, thank you very much for the chance to be with you.

QUESTION: Oh, thank you for coming. I'm sorry.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: What Prime Minister Gul had was the reception that is accorded an ally of the United States of America. The Foreign Minister of Turkey and Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey came. I think he saw all the important people in Washington. I hope he felt he had a very good visit. We felt it was a great contribution to U.S.-Turkish relations.

QUESTION: Is it, as I thought, it's a little bit out of the way, isn't it? I mean, normally, you don't treat foreign ministers like that, quite with so much higher appointments normally coming, seeing Secretary of State and --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: When foreign ministers come, they see the Secretary of State and they have a chance to see the Secretary of Defense, and in this case the Vice President wanted to continue the relationship he has with Foreign Minister Gul. So as I said, I think the Foreign Minister of Turkey was received as an ally of the United States, which is what Turkey is.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) you have shown something.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: How so?

QUESTION: Is that --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: How do you mean?

QUESTION: I mean, you have shown that all is forgiven and all is forgotten? Is it a new page?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think Secretary Powell, when he walked out with Foreign Minister Gul and had a chance to speak to all of you, had it exactly right. He said this is a relationship that we cherish, and that we can disagree from time to time but we work our way through these disagreements and we proceed as allies. And I think the idea that this is a relationship that we cherish is a very important one, and I hope that that conveys somehow to the people in Turkey.

QUESTION: So the visit is over. They went home. Let's start now a new page. Let's start with Northern Iraq. What's going to happen there?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, a number of things will happen. First of all, I think you have to recognize that there is a continuing effort by the Coalition Provisional Authority and by Iraqis to gain control of the North, and the North has been a place where Iraqis were experimenting with more democracy and more freedom. And as you and I have talked before, that's a way to show that Iraqis can live a different and free life.

And so, like in the rest of Iraq, Northern Iraq has to get security, get its economic development moving again, get connected to the rest of Iraq. There are a lot of questions for the United States and Turkey in that regard. What is Turkey going to do in terms of this amnesty for the PKK and KADEK supporters? What is the United States or the Coalition going to do with the PKK grouping that is still in Northern Iraq? And these are all things that we talked about with Foreign Minister Gul.

QUESTION: What is -- the main question as far as the public opinion is concerned in Turkey is they want to know whether the PKK camps are going to be there or are they going to be moved?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: They will be gone because we have always said that one of the visions that all of us, Turks and Americans, have for Iraq is an Iraq that has no connection to terrorists or to terrorist organizations. And the PKK is a terrorist organization, and so that group of PKK will be gone.

QUESTION: What is the timing? When we are going to see Northern Iraq exempt of PKK or any active --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, I think --

QUESTION: A few months or a few weeks?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know, because part of this depends upon the Turkish parliament and the Turkish Government. As Foreign Minister Gul talked to all of us, and as Under Secretary Ziyal before him had spoken to all of us, the Turkish Government is working on some laws to talk about the future, to organize things --

QUESTION: Now, you are going to see --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: But it hasn't passed the parliament yet, and so --

QUESTION: Probably today is going to be.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, we'll see. And then once that passes the parliament, we will, I think, working with Turkey, be able to know better about how to go forward.

QUESTION: So, in a way, you think that this law will hasten the pace to remove at least some elements of this camp?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Absolutely.

QUESTION: What's going to happen to the rest?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We'll have to deal with them. Some of those people may be wanted in Turkey for crimes. Some of those people may be wanted in Iraq or in the United States for crimes. I don't know. We'll have to find out who's there first.

But the fact that there is the opportunity offered by the Turkish Government of Turkish citizens to return home in some fashion, decided by the Turkish parliament and the Turkish people, I think will be a facilitation to dealing with this problem.

QUESTION: Are you talking to the PKK and are you telling them that that's the outcome?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, we are not in contact with the PKK; we haven't spoken to the PKK. They are there. They know that --

QUESTION: You are talking as far as the State Department is concerned? Other agencies might be talking with them.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I do not believe so, no.

QUESTION: You're sure?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I am sure.

QUESTION: I know that when you are sure, you are sure.

Now, getting back to PKK again, there were some talks and even the Kurdish (inaudible) are saying that some of the high-level PKK people might be gone or encouraged to go to emigrate to Scandinavian countries, you know, in order to get this camp out of Northern Iraq. Is this a scenario? Is this something which will (inaudible)?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I have no idea. It's certainly not a scenario that has been discussed with us. All we have done is discuss this with the Turkish Government, and the Turkish Government has said let us try to pass some kind of amnesty or other legal legislation to give a path forward for some of the people that are there, and then let's decide what to do together. That's what we're going to do.

QUESTION: Then comes, of course, the Turkish military in Northern Iraq. Are they going to be staying there until the end of PKK presence and then are they going to leave?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think as you and I have talked before, once there is no threat from the PKK in Northern Iraq, then the logic of those Turkish special forces that are there is that they should then depart.

QUESTION: Now coming to the contribution, Turkish contribution to Southern Iraq, let's say. To put the record straight, who wanted -- who volunteered? I mean, what's happened? I mean, we had the discussion. It's over, but just to put the record straight because there are quite a number of people saying that it is Turkey first volunteered, and I understood from what Secretary Powell said during the stakeout, but plus United States are some additional thing or contribution or contributions? What is this?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think Turkey, in all of its conversations with us over the past few weeks, has signaled that it would be open to this conversation. And General Abizaid, as you know, was in Ankara a few days ago and did begin a conversation with Turkey and make a request: Would Turkey be interested in participating with the United States by sending troops to Iraq? And so that question is now to the Turkish Government, and, exactly as Secretary Powell said yesterday, it's something that Foreign Minister Gul listened to and I know he discussed it at the Pentagon as well. And now the Turkish Government has to make the decision.

And I should just say to your viewers that, of course, it wouldn't only be Turkey joining the United States there. The Vice President said in his speech in Washington --

QUESTION: How many countries?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Nineteen countries are already participating on the ground, with almost 13,500 troops. So Turkey would be joining what I would consider to be a substantial multinational and international group of countries who are prepared to do work.

QUESTION: Will there be more countries joining?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I believe there will. There are 19 countries that are currently deployed and we hope that there will be more countries like Turkey and others in waves to follow. So I think that number is going to grow substantially.

QUESTION: Is it going to be any countries from Islamic countries or is it Europeans as well, like Spain or Italy will be joining you?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, some countries -- European countries -- are already there. And then a number of other countries, like Turkey, we have made requests to, or, in some cases, they have made requests to us and people are trying to work out the logistics and this kind of facilitation of people going in to Iraq.

But as I say, I think that number is going to go up and it will be an important number. It won't just be countries from one part of the world or another part, and there will be a number of Muslim countries there.

And the other thing that I would be prepared to predict to you -- and I don't know this, it's up to them -- is that this is something that not just the United States wishes, but it's also something that the Governing Council of Iraq will want. And I think that would be important for the Turkish Government and Turkish people.

QUESTION: This is new. In a way, what you are telling us that the governing body will invite or will ask Turkey to participate with their troops?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know if they will or they won't. I know it is something that Foreign Minister Gul talked about yesterday here and that it is a question that has to go to the Governing Council. So I'm not saying that they will or they won't; I'm saying that it is an interesting possibility, and, if they did, I think that this would be something that would help the Turkish Government and the Turkish people.

QUESTION: So it will facilitate AKP, AKP Party, to pass this resolution through the parliament?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think it would facilitate the feeling on the part of the Turkish people that this was something that people in Iraq wished. But as I say, we want to be careful here. I know that it was something that Foreign Minister Gul said might be helpful, and that's something that the Governing Council of Iraq must consider.

QUESTION: I mean, that will be a decision of Mr. Bremer as well?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, it's really a decision of the Governing Council. It might be a request of Mr. Bremer, but it's a decision for the Governing Council.

QUESTION: Is this going to be the request of Mr. Bremer?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: That's up to him. I don't know this.

QUESTION: You don't know. Is that any timing -- time -- until what time Turkey should or it will be nice for them to decide? Weeks or months? Is it September or November? What is the timeframe to decide on the contribution?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think this is one of those things that should be, if it can be, decided as soon as possible.

QUESTION: What is soon as possible?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, I don't want to get involved in a conversation or big debate here about the date. That's something that the Turkish Government and the Turkish parliament has to decide.

But what we have been talking about, as you have seen in the press and as you have seen in the conversations with other countries, we'd like some more forces to come quickly, and there's a lot of talk about forces coming in September.

QUESTION: So if Turkey would decide until September, it will be good as far as the United States is concerned?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Obviously, the sooner Turkey makes a decision, then the quicker everybody can work on logistics and the other aspects of this, and the sooner these troops can arrive. And the sooner that troops can arrive, I think the better it is for the Iraqi people, and the betterment of the Iraqi people is an objective that Turkey and the United States share.

QUESTION: What was the impression you got from Gul? Is he confident that he will be able to pass it through the parliament?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think the Foreign Minister was very careful not to make any predictions. He said he would take this back and consult in the government and the parliament, as you would expect. Turkey is a democracy.

QUESTION: Do you believe that it could pass easily through the parliament, because there is quite a number of people there resistant to that idea.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't have the faintest idea. That's up to the Turkish parliament and the Turkish Government.

QUESTION: Now, Secretary Powell said that he has given a list --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Yes.

QUESTION: List. What is this list?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: When Under Secretary Ziyal was here some weeks ago, he was nice enough to give us the paper with some of the ideas that Turkey had about what could be done by Turkey in Iraq, and asked for our comments.

QUESTION: First, I mean, can you give us --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: For example, work in the health sector, repairing roads. There was an idea, for example, to refurbish the international "commerce center" in Baghdad. These kinds of things. Opening up another border post or two. Working on the --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: That's right. And so the Turkish Government asked us for our response to these ideas, and that's what Secretary Powell gave yesterday.

QUESTION: What was the response?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Mostly it was very positive, and on most things it said we're glad to talk to you about this, here's a point of contact, here's how to be in touch with someone in Baghdad, so that this conversation can begin.

QUESTION: Now, it's up to -- it has nothing to do with the U.S. Government. It's up to the Bremer's office to deal with that kind of --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think in the vast majority of cases, that's right. I can't remember exactly every single one of these things, but for the majority of them I think we were positive and gave a point of contact in the Coalition Provisional Authority.

QUESTION: Because Gul is saying that it is very important, this package.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, the economic side. But they want to contribute on the political outcome of Iraq as well if they are going to contribute with the troops. What does that mean?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think as we have talked about for a very long time, Turkey is a neighbor of Iraq. Turkey has an interest in what goes on in Iraq. And what we've said from the very beginning is that everyone who is participating in the reconstruction -- political, military, economic -- of Iraq ought to participate in this conversation.

QUESTION: How one can participate?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: One of the most important ways is Ambassador Bremer has a Coalition Coordinating Committee meeting in Baghdad, in which he is talking to the 29 embassies that are already represented in Iraq. And so I think that as the Turkish contribution, both economically and politically, is made, then the contribution politically will be important as well.

QUESTION: Bremer is not talking to the Turkish ambassador. Why?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I have no idea whether he is or isn't, but he's certainly prepared to talk to people in Turkey. He talked to Foreign Minister Gul a couple times yesterday.

QUESTION: But, I mean, they -- I've asked them. They said that Bremer's office didn't have any contact yet with the Turkish embassy. Is that -- are we going to have the same negotiations, the same kind of tit-for-tat approach as we've had during this (inaudible) period this time as well between Turkey and United States?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I would hope not. We've made a request of the Turkish Government. The Turkish Government needs to respond, and we'll see how that response is.

QUESTION: So there will be no negotiations?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I didn't say that. You said will it be exactly the same kind of conversation, and I --

QUESTION: Okay, let me rephrase it. What kind of --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know. It's possible that when the Turkish Government decides to respond that they will have some requirements, and we will have to deal with those requirements. It's possible that they will say it can all be done in military-to-military channels, let's move forward. I don't know the answer to those questions. Those are questions that belong to Turkey.

QUESTION: What are you talking? Are you talking about, what, 7,000, 8,000 personnel? What is it?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Nobody has really talked about a specific number. General Abizaid spoke about "substantial" contribution. I think that was the conversation yesterday. And so we'll see. The Turkish Government now has to sit and consider what it wants to do and what is possible with the Turkish parliament, and come back to us.

QUESTION: And we know where those troops will be stationed, around Baghdad, I mean, on this famous triangle?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Again, I think it depends on the numbers that finally come out and what kind of troops. I think we can say fairly that they won't be in the North of Iraq. Other than that, let's see what happens.

QUESTION: It's not going to be in North of -- Northern Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I would doubt it.

QUESTION: Why?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Because I think it's a complication, especially with the PKK there, and with some Turkish forces already there. I think everybody agrees it would be better --

QUESTION: What happened July 4?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We've issued a joint statement on this. I don't believe I have anything new to say.

QUESTION: No, I'm not asking you about statement. I'm asking about what happens, really. Nobody knows.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We've said what we thought happened in that joint statement, and the Turkish side has said what they thought, and that's really all there is. This happened and we issued our statement and let it go.

QUESTION: You don't want to go into detail on this?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't. It's not that I'm avoiding it. Everybody has had their say. Really, there's nothing to add.

QUESTION: We have a commercial break, and then we'll continue, Marc.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Good.

(Commercial break.)

QUESTION: Now, the Turks are saying that they want to kind of same arrangement like they had in Bosnia and in Afghanistan. Do you follow the question?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it going to be the kind of same arrangements in Iraq as well as far as Turkish troops are concerned?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: That is something I will leave to the militaries to work out. That is really a military-to-military question.

QUESTION: If the Turkish Government would come and tell you, without going to the parliament, say, "Hey, we're sorry, we saw that it's not going to pass through the parliament," what would be your reaction?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think we'd be disappointed. We'd say it's too bad and we would move on to the next thing.

QUESTION: We are full of disappointments, eh?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, but you're speculating, and I don't know what the answer to that question is. But if the Turkish Government decides that this is not an offer they'd like to accept, so be it.

QUESTION: Just disappointment? Is it last tango in Baghdad?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No.

QUESTION: This troop stationing?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I don't think so. Again, I don't think you ought to overdo this. We have 19 countries there with us. We're going to get some more countries. We think it would be in Turkey's interest to join us.

QUESTION: Do you need the Turks?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We'd like to have the Turks.

QUESTION: But you don't need them?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: The security situation in Iraq is going to get better with the forces that we have and the forces that are coming. And if Turkish forces are there, it'll get better. If Turkish forces are not there, it'll get better. So we'd like to have Turkish forces participate. That's why we made the offer. But this is up to Turkey. Turkish people have to decide this.

QUESTION: I mean, you are saying it's not because we need Turkey, but you want to get Turkey in the (inaudible)?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: The more people that are there, the more international this is. The larger the number of forces, the more quickly we will be able to achieve our joint Turkish and American objectives in Iraq.

But if you say to me, "Will we be able to achieve our objectives in Iraq if Turkey chooses not to participate in this way?" -- yes, we will.

QUESTION: What's in it for Turkey, I mean, if Iraq is dismembered or (inaudible), all that. I mean, why Turkey should bother?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Because I've always thought in all the years that I have talked to Turks and dealt with Turks and lived in Turkey that Turkey wants a democratic Iraq, an Iraq with its territorial integrity, an Iraq that's economically successful, an Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, has no weapons of mass destruction, and stops all of its commitment and connections to terrorism. And those things are going to happen, and they're going to happen because the United States of America and its coalition allies got rid of Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: Are you calling Turks and the others because you couldn't manage life in -- and you are having opposition in Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, we're calling Turks and others because it would be, obviously, better and more successful if this was an internationalized operation. Now, to be clear, we still want to retain the authorities that we have under UN Security Council Resolution 1483, and we're not saying that Jerry Bremer isn't going to be the civilian administrator. He is. But this is a much more international operation than people consider. As I say, 19 countries already there; 13,500 troops have come from those 19 countries. We have a lot of countries involved now in the economic rehabilitation of Iraq.

And as the Vice President said yesterday, if you tick down some of the things that are happening, what do you see? Schools starting again. Local councils coming up in Iraq. Security in much of the country doing much, much better each day. And so these are the things that we're working on.

QUESTION: Who will be the commander of those forces?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Overall command remains with the United States of America. We've been very clear about that to everybody.

QUESTION: And, but locally, local commander will be handling the local efforts?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Again, I'd leave that to the militaries.

QUESTION: Lastly --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: But this chain is a U.S. chain, as authorized by Resolution 1483.

QUESTION: Okay. Lastly, do you believe that the United Nations or NATO umbrella will be able to establish, or is it difficult?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First, again, I'm not a lawyer and I'm not an international lawyer, certainly, but I think the mandate given by the United Nations in UN Security Council Resolution 1483 is a very powerful one. What does it do? It calls on countries and regional organizations to help the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The second thing is you've seen already NATO has stepped in to help Poland as it develops its division in Iraq. So I think NATO has already shown an interest in this.

So, again, this is all really a matter --

QUESTION: The Turkish Government, if she wants, she can use all those tools --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: That's right.

QUESTION: -- in order to convince the parliament.

Last word on Cyprus. Is Annan plan dead?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Definitely not. I think that Secretary Powell said --

QUESTION: -- just saying that just to --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I think as Secretary Powell said that there is a very important plan on the table and that Secretary Powell asked Foreign Minister Gul for Turkey to continue to work with Mr. Denktash, and we and others want to continue to work with all the parties to come back to that plan because it's a fair one and it makes sense.

QUESTION: But Gul had a link Cyprus with European Union. Is it going to work?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know. I mean, the question now --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: The question now is going back to the Annan plan and negotiating it seriously. The European Union piece of this is going forward, and May of 2004 is going to come.

QUESTION: Marc Grossman, thank you very much.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure, as always.


Released on July 29, 2003

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