Remarks After His Meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul Marc Grossman,
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
December 9, 2003
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Good morning everybody. First of all, thank you all for coming. I want to thank you all for taking time to visit with us this morning. May I introduce Admiral Goodwin, who is with us from the European Command, and Dr. Andy Hoehn who is with us from the Defense Department. Of course you all know Ambassador Edelman. Before I do anything else let me first of all say that it's an honor to be back in Turkey. I have taken the opportunity of all of my meetings here to do as our President and our Secretary of State have done in expressing my condolences and my solidarity with people in Turkey over the terrible events in Istanbul last month. Turkey is a victim of terrorism. The United States is a victim of terrorism. We stand together with great solidarity with the people of Turkey in this fight against terrorism. I will, this afternoon, visit Istanbul to continue to make those points.
The reason I have come to Turkey today with this delegation is at the direction of President Bush, who made a statement on the 25th of November, that it is time now to intensify the consultations we have with our allies about the changes we believe need to be made in the global force posture of the United States around the world. So at the direction of the President and Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld, I have come to Turkey immediately after visiting NATO yesterday to consult on these changes in our global force posture. I tried in my meetings today to make a number of themes clear. The first theme is that the Cold War is over, and that we face now as NATO allies new threats and new opportunities. Those new threats have to do with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and new military technologies. Together, the NATO allies need to take advantage of these opportunities and meet the new threats. The second theme that I tried to pursue is that the change in the alliance and the change in our force posture will be a positive thing for the alliance and will strengthen the alliance. Secretary Powell said at NATO last week that because the location of our forces might have changed, it doesn't mean that our commitment to the defense of Europe, to the defense of NATO, to the defense of Turkey will change. It will not. Third, we are having a real consultation here. No final decisions have been made in any of this, except to say that we do need to make these changes but that we want to consult on how the changes will be made. Fourth, that as we focus on the future, that we talk about capabilities and not about numbers. We need to be sure that we have the right capabilities in the right places. Finally, any of the changes that we contemplate will be consistent with our treaty obligations and with our political commitments. Obviously, the Turkish side can speak for itself, but I felt that the reaction to the presentation we made today was a positive one. We look forward to continuing consultations. And with that, I would be very glad to take any questions anybody might have.
QUESTION: Ambassador, what are those plans as far as your military presence in Turkey is concerned, especially the Incirlik airbase?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well of course Incirlik airbase is a Turkish base. Over the years, we have had arrangements with Turkey for the use of that base. What we'd like to see in the future is for those arrangements to continue. We think those arrangements are good for Turkey and are good for the United States. There may be other opportunities as well, in terms of training and joint operations, but those are things we will have to consult with the Turkish side about. Basically, we hope that the very excellent arrangement at the Turkish base at Incirlik is something we can continue into the future.
QUESTION: Have you wanted anything specific or have you discussed anything specific regarding the role of Turkey in this change in your global posture?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We did not discuss specifics today, and there is a very important reason for that. We felt that the first round of consultations should be about our philosophy and about the strategic issues here, which are that the Cold War is over and we face new threats. We see coming consultations with Turkey and with other of our allies to be more in the realm of the details. I also would say, in answer to your question, that of course what we are talking about here is not new. You will recognize all of the things that we are talking about -- capability, mobility, deployments -- as things that we are working on at NATO. That's what the NATO Response Force all about. That's what the changes in NATO command structure are all about. So our effort here is to support the transformation of NATO. In both of those areas, we will come back to do details. Secondly, this is about the transformation of NATO and not just the transformation of American forces.
QUESTION: I wonder about another issue which is on the economic side. There was an agreement about a 1 million dollar loan to the Turkish side. There are some conditions that the Turkish side was uncomfortable with. Do you think these conditions can change, especially in the agreement?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know. Of course the conditions are conditions that were in agreements that were there previously. I know Ambassador Edelman was in Washington a couple of weeks ago to talk at the Economic Policy Committee. Of course, some of those conditions are from Congress. We'll have to see as we go forward. The important thing here is that we wish to move forward with this loan, if Turkey wishes it. I believe we will certainly find ways to do so.
QUESTION: The Turkish government has always warned the United States that a war in Iraq will maybe push terrorism and global terrorism further to do more attacks. Nearly one year of the war, are you convinced that the war in Iraq has helped global terrorism to move more freely in the area and the region after what happened in Istanbul, in Tunisia, and Morocco?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I don't think that. I think saying that the attacks in Istanbul or attacks in other places in the world are somehow results of what we have done in Iraq is wrong. What we have done in Iraq is moved there to fight terrorism. What we have done in Iraq is to provide the Iraqi people with the capacity to live their own lives. We have also moved there to make sure that the connection between a state run like the state was under Saddam Hussein, with the possibility of weapons of mass destruction, is broken and broken forever. I think we have succeeded in those regards. There was terrorism before Iraq, and there was going to be terrorism after what we have done in Iraq. But to connect these things, I think, is incorrect. The job now is to defeat terrorism, not to try to explain it and not to try to say, well, it's for this reason or that reason. This is murder, and it's a crime. The United States and Turkey need to stand in great solidarity over this. Thank you all.
QUESTION: Did you talk about Cyprus? Was Cyprus one of the issues?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Yes, Undersecretary Ziyal and I talked about Cyprus. I made the points that we normally do, which is that we hope that there can be progress on this in the very near future. Anyway, thank you all very much.