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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2006 Secretary Rice's Remarks > April 2006: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Remarks With Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul After Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Ankara, Turkey
April 25, 2006

Secretary Rice meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul at the Prime Ministry. Ankara, April 25, 2006. American Embassy Ankara photo.DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GUL: (Via interpreter) -- very pleased to see the Secretary of State of the United States, the friendly and allied country of United States, Dr. Rice, to Turkey. You will remember Dr. Rice visited Turkey last year when she made her first trip abroad and this is her second visit. I was going to visit the United States last month. Unfortunately, due to some health reasons, I could not. And I invited her and she accepted to come and be here, so I'd like to thank her very much for accepting my invitation to come here.

During our one-on-one meeting and meeting between delegations, we had a comprehensive exchange of views related to our countries, region and generally speaking on issues related to the international community. We have carried out some comprehensive evaluations. As you know, we have common views, vision, common targets as to countries. We work together and we aim to further strengthen and develop those relations. This is what we have decided. Our relations are based on very sound foundations because of the shared common values: the values of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law and a free market economy. And we would like to see that these values are realized in our region, in all of the world, and this will be important for peace and security and therefore we are in close cooperation to achieve that end.

So ladies and gentlemen, we believe in the importance of working together further and for that reason we agreed to prepare a (inaudible) visionary document which will project the future of Turkish united relations because there are many events that are taking place around our region and it is important for us to have close consultation and exchange of views and opinions, and it is important to establish a mechanism to carry out this kind of interaction. And there are problems and the dangers in the world today, much greater problems and dangers. In the Cold War, we knew the difficulties; we could more or less predict some of the things that would happen. But the world today has become a more different world and so we have to work together as countries who have common views and values, and we feel the need to be in closer cooperation for that reason.

And of course within this framework we also discussed our views on Iraq and the fact that the political process is moving forward in our view. It's important to us. We're happy to see that the prime minister has now been decided upon and we hope that future steps will be taken and we will continue to work together in this area.

Also in the area of the fight against terrorism, both countries place a lot of importance to this issue and for us in Turkey the PKK terror organization is well known and Turkey's fight against terrorism is well known and the United States is the first country that has declared the PKK as a terrorist organization and we never forget the U.S. support in this respect. But we look forward to more cooperation and we have more expectations from the American side and we have -- I have shared these views with Dr. Rice. And the terrorist organization is benefiting from a vacuum of authority power in northern Iraq and they started to inflict harm and I have shared these views with my colleague.

On the other hand, we are also (inaudible) we have reiterated once again that we are against nuclear -- proliferation of nuclear weapons. On the issue of NPT, Iran must be transparent and must meet the expectations of the world, the international community, and this would be -- this is our wish and desire and we place a lot of importance on diplomatic efforts and we hope that we will reach a peaceful result at the end of diplomatic efforts.

With regard to Cyprus, I shared my views with Dr. Rice on Cyprus and I thanked her for the support they gave us.

With regard to the European Union, Turkey has sometimes had difficult times and the United States has always supported Turkey in this respect, and I took this opportunity to once again share with you and with her that this support has been very important for us.

And I can say is that the relationship and the United States is based on mutual trust and this is an issue, a fact which is underlined and it will be important for us in the future to continue to have more exchange of views. These are the opinions on which we've agreed.

So I'd like to thank you once again for your visit to Turkey.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Gul. I want to thank you very much for the invitation to visit you here. We have, indeed, had wide-ranging discussions as would be befitting for the United States and Turkey, great allies, great friends. We do, indeed, share common values. And I have great confidence in this relationship and in our ability to work together toward a more peaceful and democratic world. I think that that work will be enhanced and pushed forward by our new efforts to have a common strategic vision for the U.S.-Turkish relationship. This will allow us to have a mechanism by which we can continually meet and discuss the many issues on which we -- that we share common interest about.

We did have wide-ranging discussions. I thank the Minister very much for the efforts of the Turkish Government to improve relations with Iraq, to help in the Iraqis as they form a government of national unity. We all look forward to working with that government of national unity for an Iraq that is stable, democratic and unified and we share that goal. And we share that goal with the Iraqis and we will be there to support them.

We did discuss our common fight against terrorism and the United States, indeed, was the first country to list the PKK as a terrorist organization. We recognize that it's such. We believe that it is important that we make joint efforts through information sharing and other means to prevent any vacuum for being used as a way to inflict harm here in Turkey.

We need to work with the new Iraqi Government and we will do that. We've had a trilateral mechanism to work on this issue and I hope that we can reinvigorate it when there is a new Iraqi Government. We had extensive discussions about the Middle East, about Iran, about the need for Iran to adhere to the international community's requirements of it that have been expressed in a presidential statement by the Security Council.

I want to note that the problem of the proliferation of nuclear weapons is, of course, one that we have discussed and one that we share concerns about. We also have to be concerned when there are statements from Iran, as there apparently were today, that Iran would not only have this technology, but would share it and share its knowledge and expertise. Indeed, that's one of the fears that there would be that kind of escape, if you will, of knowledge and expertise on these dangerous technologies.

And finally, let me just say that we have had no better ally and no stronger supporter of the efforts that we are all making to see a democratic Middle East. Turkey is a very good example that there is no conflict between Islam and democracy, that in fact the values of democracy and freedom are very deep here. People practice their faith, but they also practice their political freedoms. And we talked about the tremendous advantages that there would be in a broader region in which those values are also respected. And so whether it is in our work together in Iraq, whether it is in our work together in the Broader Middle East, whether it is in Turkey's very central role that it has played in Afghanistan. Perhaps our most important work for the future of our countries and the future of our children is to work together toward a more democratic broader region.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you. I'd like to ask you both about the problem of PKK enclaves in Iraq and the buildup, specifically, the reports of the buildup of Turkish forces in the border region. First, Mr. Foreign Minister, can you be more specific about what the United States and Iraq can do that they're not doing to secure that area and is it possible that Turkey might want to send its own forces into Iraq to take care of the problem?

And Madame Secretary, why shouldn't the Turks do that or be permitted to do that, to take matters into their own hands if there is this security problem that they face? And what is the cause, in your view, of the vacuum that the Foreign Minister spoke of? Thank you.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GUL: Now, fighting against terrorism is a duty for us all, and as we fight against terrorism we see that there are different kinds of terrorist organizations and the terrorist organization that we are concerned about and the terrorist organization that our allies may be concerned about may be different from one another. International solidarity is important here, so if we take one terror organization more seriously as opposed to another one, then that may create some sort of (inaudible) in the fight against terrorism in the international platform. And Turkey has had a lot of (inaudible) from PKK terrorism. Thousands of people have lost their lives and this terror organization came about as a Marxist-Leninist terror organization and then it started inflicting all sorts of inhuman massacres.

Now with regard to this (inaudible) Iraq and because of this vacuum in Iraq, they have made that area, especially northern Iraq, into some sort of a camp for themselves. There are thousands of terrorists there and unfortunately this happened because of the vacuum in authority there and they are able to freely move around and that area has become a training ground for them. And in recent months, unfortunately we see that they once again began to infiltrate into Turkey and they have started increasing their level of activity in Turkey. They're attacking our security forces and Turkish soldiers are falling martyrs to those attacks.

And of course, like very country, Turkey will take her own precautions, and as we take our precautions, international relations and relations with our neighbors are very important for us. And within that framework of course we will -- we have a lot of expectations for among the coalition forces and the Iraqi Government since this is -- since (inaudible) as a terror organization they must be fought against. And what we do is we are establishing better controls of our borders. If the Iraqi Government establishes its own security forces and controls its own borders and fight against those terrorists who will go (inaudible) to them on their own soil in the future, the new have nothing to do because we, our job is to protect our own soil. But there are certain weaknesses in this area and the events, incidences that are being reported in the papers are -- they're nothing new because in the (inaudible) the terrorists are very active and they infiltrate the borders. And the security forces are taking precautions, measures and this is not new. It's been done in previous years.

So otherwise, we have no claim on anybody's soil, on any neighboring country's soil for that matter. What we would like to see is to have a democratic neighbor. We would like to see Iraq to have its political unity, territorial integrity, to be in peace with its own people, with the neighboring countries in the region, and to see more economic cooperation with that country.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, as the Minister and I discussed this, we agreed that obviously we all have an interest in making certain that the borders are as secure as possible so that the Iraqis can be a part of the effort to make sure that Iraqi soil cannot be used as a base for terrorism. We have a trilateral mechanism -- the coalition, the United States and Turkey. I think -- I'm sorry -- the coalition, the Iraqis and Turkey. And we've agreed that when there is an Iraqi Government this should be reactivated.

We obviously also are sharing information. The United States was active in helping in the past with the PKK and we will be active in the future in helping with the PKK. But of course we want anything that we do to contribute to stability in Iraq, not to threaten that stability or to make a difficult situation worse. And that is why a cooperative approach on this problem, cooperation between Iraq, Turkey and the coalition, is very important and it's that cooperation that I think we're both committed to.

QUESTION: Aran Nescu (ph) from Zaman newspaper. I have a question for Dr. Rice. You said that Turkey is the best example of Islam and democracy together. And when you spoke or Iran and criticized Iran, you spoke of the nuclear programs, and if I'm not mistaken, you criticized the regime in Iran. In the coming weeks, Prime Minister Erdogan is going to meet the [Iranian] President Ahmadi-Nejad in Baku. Is there any message that you would like to see Prime Minister Erdogan convey to the Iranian President (inaudible) about these issues?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would just quote what the Foreign Minister has just said, which is that Turkey is a part of the international consensus that expects Iran to live up to its obligations under the NPT, that expects Iran to respond to the presidential statement that was issued by the Security Council, that expects Iran to seek its civil nuclear program in a way that does not raise proliferation risk and that does not leave Iran with the technologies that could lead to a nuclear weapon.

That is the message that the United States is sending. That is the message that the Security Council is sending. And I know very well, as I've just heard the Minister say, that it is the message also that Turkey is sending to Iran.

The reason that I speak about the regime is that the United States has no quarrel with the Iranian people. This is a great culture, a great people. They should be fully integrated into the international community. They should be modernizing and enjoying the full advantage of what could be a very strong Iranian economy. These are people who have a lot of potential and a lot to give to the world, but they have a regime that is step by step, day by day, action by action, isolating Iran from the international community and from the international consensus.

And so the Iranian regime has tried to make this about civil nuclear power. That's not the issue. The Russians have offered them a means to civil nuclear power. This joint venture, the Europeans have offered a way to civil nuclear power. This is about not allowing Iran to get the expertise and the technology to build a nuclear weapon, which Iranians from time to time -- Iranian leaders from time to time say that they would gladly transfer to others. And so I think we have a very common message and it's one that I have heard from Turkey and would expect to continue to hear from Turkey.

QUESTION: Thank you. Sylvie Lanteaume from AFP. Mr. Minister, you just met with the Palestinian President today and he asked your help. I wanted to know what kind of help you are ready to give him, if it's a financial help.

And Madame Secretary, you just crossed paths with President Abbas at the airport and you said you support him. Why you didn't take five minutes to speak to him?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GUL: Mr. Abbas was in Turkey. We had meetings yesterday and today. As you know, Turkey in this region has had longstanding historical ties with her neighbors in the issue of Israel and Palestine. Turkey -- we, Turkey, have a lot of longstanding (inaudible) relations with these countries. And Turkey is one of the few countries that has had longstanding relations with Israel and Palestine, and both parties place a lot of importance to that longstanding relationship they have with Turkey and they want to see Turkey contribute to peace based on that longstanding relationship.

And therefore the Israelis and the Palestinians have always invited Turkey to be more active in achieving peace in the Middle East. And within that framework, the Palestinians and Mr. Abbas asked for help for peace and for Turkey to be more active in that quest for peace. And he says that -- he said that peace should be based on the roadmap and we agree with him on that.

Of course, in these days there is a new political reality in Palestine and in Israel and these are new developments, all a result of democracy. And the newly emerging issues therefore must be well handled and everything must be put in the right track so that while we have quite the number of problems in the Middle East, we should do our best to make sure that the problems do not get worse. And Mr. Abbas has suggested that Turkey should be more active.

Now, as Turkey, we are making social and economic -- we are giving social and economic support to the Palestinians. We have an official envoy we've designated and Israel is helping us in making sure that the help gets there and we continue with that work. What Mr. Abbas asked, or what he asked us to do, is to be more active especially in achieving peace so that there is no more bloodshed, no more tears. And so this is the kind of help he has requested.

SECRETARY RICE: Sylvie, I have talked to President Abbas very often. I would have been very happy to greet him at the airport. I think I wasn't aware that our paths had really crossed. But he is still the elected President of the Palestinian Authority. We have respect for him and he demonstrated again just the other day that he is an honorable man in the way that he condemned the attack on civilians in Israel. And it stood in stark contrast to the statements from Hamas, which had an opportunity to demonstrate that it understood the requirements of governing and instead decided to justify attacks on civilians -- on innocents. And so he is someone who we want to see supported.

The United States -- I just want to underscore that the United States has made very clear that we intend to increase our humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people for refugees, for food assistance, for health, for some democracy activities. We want the Palestinian people who have needs to have those needs met. But Hamas needs to recognize that the responsibility of governing means that they need to accept the international consensus that the roadmap is the way to peace and a better life for the Palestinian people and to adhere to the Quartet requirements so that they can deliver that better life.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GUL: Because we are running late in the program, we will have to end the press conference. Thank you very much for attending.



Released on April 25, 2006

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