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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2001 > December

Joint Press Conference at the Residence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Secretary Colin L. Powell, Turkish Minister Of Foreign Affairs Ismail Cem
Ankara, Turkey
December 5, 2001

FOREIGN MINISTER CEM: I first want to welcome once again the Secretary of State of the United States, my colleague and friend Colin Powell, and his delegation. We’re very happy to have them with us.

We have been working on all issues and we have had all through the morning -- not only as Foreign Ministry but as the President of Turkey, as the Prime Minister of Turkey -- we’ve worked through all issues, and we have had a very friendly, positive exchange of views. I’m happy to say as well that, as was the case with the previous U.S. administration, our relations with the United States and with the new administration are excellent, and we are continually upgrading and developing those good relations. In fact, the United States and Turkey have some parallel concerns and interests in a large geography and, it is interesting to note, some of the main issues, main topics, main opportunities for the future.

From a U.S. optic, our place is in a geography which can be rightfully termed by Turkey as Turkey’s historical and cultural geography, all major issues and opportunities which this century were located on that geography -- in the Balkans, in the Caucasus, with all its energy resources, in Central Asia, in the Middle East, where we have both problems and opportunities, and where both U.S. and Turkish interests and concerns are concentrated. We believe that Turkish-U.S. cooperation is a positive asset which influenced positively the global agenda.

The 11th of September, the tragedy that the American people as well as all peoples have faced, have created a mutual responsibility to fight terrorism together. We have supported the United States as the leader of this global fight against terrorism. We stand together with the United States. We are sure that the outcome of this fight will be won, a victory, if I may say so, for all those who want to have a peaceful world. We have always said that terrorism does not have a religion, terrorism does not have a geography, and terrorism does not and cannot have a justification. We support fully U.N. Resolution 1373; we are watching for its implementation, and we are going to urge each and every country to abide by her responsibility as to this Resolution 1373. We are together again with the United States in taking this resolution very seriously and asking everyone, every other country to take it very seriously.

In Afghanistan -- where we’ve just had some good news if I may say so, that the Afghan representatives have agreed on the way that they will proceed in their own country -- we’re cooperating with the United States in Afghanistan. We believe that Turkey has an important role there due to our historical presence, historical friendship in Afghanistan. We are looking forward to enhancing this cooperation within the framework of international cooperation headed by the United Nations.

We have discussed several issues with Secretary Powell. We have touched upon issues related to Central Asia, where we have an ongoing cooperation in the Caucasus -- especially the developments in Georgia for which we are very sensitive - and cooperation on the Eurasian energy corridors, on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan projects. We have discussed the situation in the Middle East, which gives us both a huge concern. I have mentioned that I support the vision that His Excellency has defined a few weeks ago for the Middle East. It’s very much parallel to our own vision. We underline again that we believe the Mitchell Report should be a starting point to hopefully bring in some stability and peace to the Middle East. We have as well talked about the situation in Iraq. And we have reiterated Turkey’s position that Iraq should fully comply with UN resolutions and in doing so will be able to have more goodwill support from her neighbors.

We as well discussed our bilateral relations, bilateral economic relations in particular. I thanked the U.S. Government through his Excellency for their support in matters related to Turkey in international economic institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. But I underlined that our economic relations have to move to a stage, to a phase; our economic relations have to be upgraded. We believe that our trade relations should not have the restricted character that it has. We believe that Turkey and U.S. should freely export to each other the goods and should alleviate the existing restrictions which unfortunately bring serious limitations to Turkey’s economic possibilities.

We as well touched some subjects, important subjects like the ESDP. I thanked His Excellency for the U.S. participation in the discussions, which were finally terminated in a positive way. We talked about the recent developments in Cyprus, and there of course we all have to support the two leaders in the new path that they are trying to create for themselves, for their peoples, and for all of us.

I want to thank again Colin Powell, Secretary of State, for his visit. I want to thank his delegation. I think we have had some very good talks, discussions, open discussions as friends should always have and as we two always had. Thank you again, Colin.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, colleague, for your kind words, and thank you for the hospitality you’ve extended to me and to my delegation. I certainly agree with you. Well, we’ve had some very fine talks in the course of the morning, and I know they will continue into the afternoon. You’ve given a very comprehensive review of all the issues we have discussed in the course of the morning, and I will not repeat all of them.

But I would like to emphasize that we did focus on the strength of our bilateral relationship. I’ve expressed my thanks and appreciation to the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister for the solid support that we have received from Turkey in this new campaign against terrorism. Turkey has suffered from terrorism in the past and fully recognizes the importance of the mission that we are now all embarked upon. We’re especially sensitive to the point the Foreign Minister made a few moments ago about what an overlap between our new interests and interests that have always been important to Turkey and the Balkans and the Caucasus and in Central Asia. This puts a premium on us consulting even more closely in the future than we have in the past.

We covered Iraq. I was pleased to discuss with the Foreign Minister the fact that we do have a new UN resolution in place which will lead to smart sanctions over the period of the next six months and make it easier for the Iraqi people to get consumer goods, but at the same time make sure that the Iraqi regime is contained with respect to the development of weapons of mass destruction.

We took note of the positive developments that came out of Bonn. We’re very pleased by the work that was done by the Afghan leaders themselves with the assistance of the German Chancellor and Foreign Minister. And I am pleased with the work of our Ambassador, Ambassador Jim Dobbins, in keeping them to the task they had there. Now, the real work is ahead as we put that interim government in place in Kabul, allow them to begin to exercise control. We look forward to working with our Turkish colleagues as to what support they will require in order to make it a viable government and then to expand the nature of that government so that it reflects all the elements of the Afghan society as they go to a loya jirga and ultimately as they go to elections.

We focused quite a bit on our economic relationship. We were pleased to be of assistance to Turkey as they got new IMF assistance recently. But I also made the point to my colleague that a lot now is required on the part of Turkey to restructure and reform their economic system so as they can draw more investment into the country, more private investment. We talked about textile quotas and other similar barriers to trade that are of interest to the Turkish government. And I will be taking a strong message back to my colleagues in the United States with respect to the General System of Preferences, with respect to barriers that currently exist and see what we can do to removing those barriers.

I just might conclude by saying it was also good to have as two postscripts to the meeting the fact that the ESDP is moving forward and some positive discussions were completed recently. I hope that will put this matter behind us once the EU has acted on it. And it was also very pleasing to take note of the fact that Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash have met, will be meeting again this evening. This is a beginning of a long process, but every long journey begins with some first steps. I’m pleased to see these first steps after a break of some four years.

So, colleague, I thank you for your hospitality and I thank you for all that you have done since this administration came into this office to strengthen the relationship between our two countries. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, everybody in the world, but perhaps most the Turkish people, wonder whether Iraq will be the next on the line in war against terrorism. First of all, we wonder the answer of this question. And what is your expectation from Turkey concerning such an operation against Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President has indicated for a long time that we are concerned about Iraq, that it tries to develop weapons of mass destruction. We’re doing everything we can to keep it from getting such weapons. Such weapons are dangerous to the region as well as to the world. We also know that Iraq has been a sponsor of terrorism over the years, and that continues to be a concern of ours.

But the President has made no decisions with respect to what the next phase in our campaign against terrorism might be, whether it is directed against any particular country; nor has he received any recommendations yet from his advisors as to what we might do next. And so I was able to provide this information to the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

With respect to what would be expected from Turkey, that is not even a question on the table now because we have not asked anything of Turkey, because no decisions have been made or recommendations offered yet to President Bush on the question you asked.

QUESTION: I have a question for you, Foreign Minister. Can you tell us whether Turkey now feels more reassured about United States intentions in Iraq?

FOREIGN MINISTER CEM: Well, we have a very substantial and very open dialogue with the United States on issues of our region, and so we’ll continue with that substantial dialogue. Otherwise I wouldn’t comment on presumptions. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I want to ask about a question in the Middle East, in the tension in the Middle East. Do you think there is any role for Turkey to solve this tension in the Middle East?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, this is in your neighborhood as well, and you should be concerned. I know Turkey is concerned about the situation in the Middle East. I know the Prime Minister has been on the phone. Prime Minister Ecevit has been on the phone for long periods of time yesterday talking to both Chairman Arafat and to Prime Minister Sharon, giving them advice and counsel as to how we can get the violence down, get on to a ceasefire, get back to a process that leads to negotiations which is what all of us want in the context of the Mitchell Plan. I think Turkey does have a role to play as a friend to both sides, and as somebody who is very interested, a nation that is very interested in seeing a peaceful resolution of this crisis.

I expressed my appreciation to the Foreign Minister and to the Prime Minister for the work they have been doing to try to bring some order to the situation.

QUESTION: Minister Cem, as part of the agreement this morning, they announced the intention to deploy an international UN mandated force in Afghanistan. Do you expect Turkish troops to play a prominent role, perhaps leading that force? And how soon do you think they might be deployed? And to Secretary Powell, what role would the United States play specifically in trying to ensure the success of the interim government?

FOREIGN MINISTER CEM: We have already decided to contribute soldiers to a peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. As for the timing of this peacekeeping force, under Turkish presence, this depends mainly on the timetable that the military authorities, both in Florida and in Ankara, will decide.

SECRETARY POWELL: I would like to first thank the Minister for reaffirming that commitment to make a contribution to this force when it is created.

The United States will be actively involved in helping the new government set up. I expect that we would have some diplomatic presence in Kabul in the not-too-distant future. I think we’ll be working very closely with our friends and allies to provide resources that this new government will need, financial resources. We'll continue to work with humanitarian organizations and the United Nations to help with the humanitarian crisis. We’ll continue to be engaged in preparing for the next phase of this, which is going to be reconstruction of the Afghan society, helping the Afghan people survive the winter, but beyond that, seeing a brighter future for themselves. That work has already begun. In the near term United States Armed Forces will continue to pursue Al-Qaida, remaining elements of the Taliban, and Usama bin Laden, and that is the mission that General Franks is dedicated to.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, as a follow-up, did you specifically talk about what kind of mission the Turkish troops could take? And a second question, on ESDP, you said you would like to see this problem behind. But the problem is not over yet. The consent of Greece is necessary. You played a role, a facilitator role. Are you planning to talk with the Greek side in order to get a solution on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: We haven’t discussed the specific role that Turkish troops might play in such a peacekeeping force that may come up in the course of the day. But I’m sure we will have consultations on this subject.

With respect to ESDP, you’re quite right, it isn’t finished yet. I spoke to the Greek foreign minister over the weekend, Mr. Papandreou, and I know that he is examining the document that has emerged from the discussions. In my meetings later this week in Brussels I’m sure there will be additional opportunities to discuss it. But I think that we are on our way to a solution, and I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to arrive at one. It’s really a matter for the EU more so than the American Secretary of State. But I’m pleased that we’ve been able to play a helpful role in facilitating the work that has been done. Thank you.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Cem, we’ve heard mixed signals coming from your government, some saying that they are open to the possibility of renewed U.S. military action in Iraq, and we’ve heard others play that down. What is the position of your government and what kind of conditions would need to be in place for Turkey to support some kind of renewed U.S. military operation in Iraq? And for Secretary Powell, we’ve heard, Sir, in the last number of hours Yasser Arafat say that he is making a one hundred percent effort. Do you agree?

FOREIGN MINISTER CEM: My government has a position of principle that we had made public right after the tragedy of 11th of September. We believe that terrorism, when we discuss terrorism, does not have a geography, that we cannot say that terrorism exists in the Middle East and does not exist in Africa or does not exist in Western Europe. We believe that we should go after terrorism wherever it is and in cases whether a state does not sponsor a particular terrorism, but just lets that terrorism do its work by refraining to take acts against terrorist organizations. These definitions cover, as I said, a large geography including the Middle East, including maybe some countries in Africa as well as in Western Europe.

So, my government’s position is that we are against terrorism, we are against all kinds of terrorism. But we are not to make statements on presumptions, on the claims. And this is where we stand and on that particular subject that you have just touched upon. So, in regards to Iraq, I have said our position about the UN resolutions. And of course I have to add that we - no country - would like to see trouble in its neighbor. This is the position of our government and this has been declared several times, repeatedly, in fact by our government. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: I heard Mr. Arafat’s statement that he is making one hundred percent effort to stop terrorist violence. I can’t judge whether he is or he is not. I take note of the fact that another bomb went off recently. Fortunately the injuries were minor and the bomber died in the process.

What he really has to do though is show significant results. As long as bombs keep going off, as long as this kind of activity is not stopped, then it will be very difficult to put in place conditions leading into a ceasefire and leading to the resumption of confidence building activity on the way to negotiations. So I hope he is making one hundred percent effort. We have not yet seen results of such effort. Until those results become obvious through the decrease down to the lowest level -- we’d like to see zero violence and terror -- we’re going to continue to have a serious problem and we’re not going to be able to get to the ceasefire confidence building measures and the Mitchell Plan and the negotiations that we need in order to put in place a peace that will serve the interest of both sides. Thank you.


Released on December 5, 2001

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