Duncan [Heinz] – Thank you very much for the introduction! It is delightful to be here today.
Minister Gönül, It is good to have you back here. [Ambassador] Nabi [Şensoy], it is always good to see you. It is delightful to welcome Secretary Bayar and the rest of the Turkish delegation to the Pentagon for this very important event.
We – our country – America – is truly privileged to have such a strong and dynamic partner, ally, and most of all a great friend, in Turkey. I usually say that nations don’t build relationships – people do.
I’m privileged to have been doing business with Turkish counterparts and friends for 20 years…building airplanes – tactical fighters – and also building very strong relationships. I am pleased that now these personal relationships will continue – pleased that our two nations, and our industries, continue to deepen our very close ties.
Today, our two nations are standing together in the name of freedom and liberty. Together, we are helping extend the promise of freedom to parts of the world that have known far too little of it.
The cooperation between our two nations in the Joint Strike Fighter program opens the door to a fruitful defense acquisition partnership, based on a concrete, shared investment in the future. Turkey has committed $175 million dollars to the Joint Strike Fighter development phase – and plans to buy 100 of the Conventional Take-Off and Landing variant. That is a strong and significant mark of commitment to our common defense.
This Memorandum of Understanding launches the next important phase in that partnership – setting the organizational structure and the business rules needed for all 9 international partners to move forward together. Today, Turkey joins the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, as a signatory. This is a very special day.
The three remaining partners - Italy, Norway, and Denmark – will all likely sign by the end of February. Together, we are a force for good in the world.
I do thank everyone here today. I thank everyone for all of your hard work on this cutting-edge program, and for all the hard work still to come. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. I do thank you all for your dedication to building a safer and more secure world for our children and grandchildren. It is a great privilege and honor to be here today for this very significant event.
Mr. Minister – thank you again for being here for this signing. It is good have dear, close friends. Thank you very much.