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Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (Transcript)
Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, July 14, 2002

Thank you very much, Ambassador Sanberk, for those very warm introductory remarks. I recall that it was perhaps 26 years ago, when I first came to Turkey, and I have been very interested in your country, and the relationship between the United States and Turkey, over what is by now more than a quarter of a century. I believe very strongly in that partnership. I had the pleasure more than a decade ago of meeting Ambassador Sanberk, and working with him. He is one of the finest diplomats that I’ve had the experience of working with and it is a great pleasure to be back here and to see you again. And thank you for giving me this opportunity to address a Turkish audience. I would prefer, though, if you would let them give me some easy questions, and I’ll give you the hard questions.

I’d like to say something at the beginning about an event that literally overturned the customary world order and kept people awake at night in Washington, DC. Of course, I am talking about World Cup football.

When Turkey faced Senegal in the quarterfinals, a wide-open game that went into overtime—that was a game worth losing sleep for. In the Pentagon, we were thrilled. Thrilled, first of all, that the United States qualified for the World Cup this year, of course, and made it into the quarterfinals; and, second, that our old friend Turkey really managed to shake things up. So, here’s to the next World Cup: to Turkey and the United States in the finals. But, don’t ask me to predict who’s going to win.

I can’t help noting, though, that whether you call it football or soccer— whatever name you call it-- is a team sport. So is democratic government. And Turks have shown a passion and an aptitude for both.

When Turkey’s football team takes the field, there’s an energy and dynamism, like the energy and dynamism one senses in Istanbul. Istanbul is without doubt one of the most fascinating and beautiful cities in the world, and I am delighted to be here once again. Here, where the waters of the Bosphorus, the Marmara and the Golden Horn meet, is also where so many other forces come together, where East meet West, where Europe meets Asia, and where great sources of creativity result.

At the outset, let me try to combine good intentions with a little bit of Turkish I know: Sayin Arkadashlar Merhaba. I know Turks are polite so I dare to risk that. That Turkish kindness is one of the reasons I am delighted to be back here in Turkey.

Before President Bush asked met to take on my present duties, I had been scheduled to take my graduate students from John Hopkins University to visit Gallipoli last March. I wanted them to understand -- as they stood on ground so bravely contested many years ago -- that Gallipoli might have gone down in history as a brilliantly successful strategic gamble on the part of the allied nations, were it not for the bravery and tenacity of Mustafa Kemal and his men, who continued to fight even when they and their ammunition were exhausted.

The other lesson I wanted them to take away from Anzac Cove was the lesson of Ataturk’s magnanimity and generosity. In the impressive monument there to Johnnies and Mehmets alike, they would read: "Mothers, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are at peace." Ataturk offered generations of students and statesmen alike this powerful lesson: move forward, build up what was torn down, and do so with your sights set on the future.

Ataturk displayed the same generosity of spirit and breadth of vision in the way that he came to terms with Greece after Turkey’s war of independence. He stopped far short of what Turkey’s military successes had placed within his grasp -- even accepting that his own birthplace, Salonica, or Thessaloniki, was a Greek city and should remain in Greece. Indeed, remarkably, the peace terms he offered Greece were so generous that Greek Prime Minister Venezelos nominated Ataturk for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ataturk’s magnanimity was also an act of enlightened self-interest. With his sights on the future, Ataturk guided Turkey forward. He saw the republic through a period of extraordinary challenge and change. Today, we face another such period. And now, as Ataturk would certainly understand, Turkey is the cornerstone for building peace in Southeastern Europe and preserving peace in the Black Se Region -- key elements for building a Europe that is undivided, democratic, and free. Equally important, Turkey stands on the frontlines in the war against terrorism, and with its legacy of secular democracy, equality for women, and a vibrant market economy, Turkey has a crucial role to play in bridging the gap between the West and the Muslim world. A dangerous gap that must be bridged. But, in short, Turkey is crucial.

And our partnership -- the partnership of Turkey and the United States -- is crucial, as well. It is a partnership that was forged when President Truman sent the U.S.S. Missouri to show support for Turkey against Soviet demands and forged on the hard battlefield of Korea, where Turkish troops fought side by side with American troops, to stop aggression in a distant land, and reconfirm their reputation as the bravest of the brave and the toughest of the tough. It was a partnership reinforced by Turkey’s perseverance as a staunch NATO ally through forty years of Cold War that eventually brought a new era of peace and freedom to large parts of Europe. It is a partnership that continues after the Cold War, with U.S. and Turkish troops working together in Bosnia and Kosovo and Afghanistan. And since the attacks of last September, there is a new recognition in both our countries of the importance of the U.S. – Turkish partnership.

At this historical juncture, our two nations, Turkey and the United States, face great challenges. In the United States, we define the challenge as the threat of terrorism and the need for a global war against it. In Turkey, the political and economic problems are evident in each day’s newspaper headlines. But the underlying challenge is much greater -- how to continue the process of modernization begun by Ataturk and extend it through the world. These challenges, along with the dangers they pose, also present great opportunities. They have placed our two nations at an important crossroads in history. As we move forward, we can choose the path that will bring us out of crisis and danger to unparalleled opportunity. In this time of great uncertainty, I come here as a friend of Turkey, and I come here to tell you that in the United States, you have an ally and a friend. In the United States you have a true partner at this crossroads in history.

It is the great good fortune of the United States, of NATO, the West, indeed the world, that occupying this most important crossroads we have one of our strongest, most reliable and most self-reliant allies. An ally that sees its strategic role in the manner of Ataturk, who saw each nation as a part of one body. As Ataturk said, a nation should never ask, "What does it matter to me if some part of the world is ailing?" Rather, he said, "If there is such an illness, we must concern ourselves with it as though we were having that illness."

When the "illness" of international terrorism struck the United States last September, Turkey quickly offered unconditional support, including the deployment of ground forces to Afghanistan. Turkey has assumed another tough responsibility as the leader of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul under the direction of General Zorlu, whom I am looking forward to meeting tomorrow in Kabul. It is a role that Afghanistan’s leader, Hamid Karzai welcomes, for he knows that the role of ISAF is critical to ensuring that terrorists no longer find Afghanistan a hospitable place. Turks, in typical fashion, are doing a superb job.

Working with Turkey and the other members of the coalition, the United States is committed to helping Afghans establish long-term stability, so their country will never again become a sanctuary for terrorists. But we approach this mindful that we must not come to be regarded as another foreign invader. Ours is a mission of liberation, not occupation.

Afghans are independent, proud people. And we have worked from the beginning to keep the number of our troops there small, and we have emphasized helping the Afghan people to help themselves in their journey to representative self-government.

Turkey offers an important model to Afghanistan as that country embarks on its own road to representative government. As the great American scholar of Turkish history, Bernard Lewis, has observed, Turkey’s experience shows that democracy is difficult but also that it is possible. When Ataturk considered the journey facing the new Turkish republic, he said: "The success of what we have won until today has done no more than open a road for us, towards progress and civilization. It has not yet brought us to progress and civilization." But he remained undeterred, adding: "The duty that falls on us and our grandsons is to advance, unhesitatingly, in this road."

Turkey’s openness, and its dedication to finding truth and reaching compromise, are the very foundation, not only of democracy, but of civilization itself. What we sometime erroneously call "Western" values, Ataturk called "the civilization of our time" and he understood it to mean a common, universal civilization built on universal values.

Turkey’ s courage to embrace both tradition and modernity offers great promise for all Muslims today— especially as we confront the war on terrorism. The fight against terrorism is not just a fight of the Western countries. It is a fight of all those who aspire to peace and freedom throughout the world and, most emphatically, in the Muslim world itself.

As I have been pointing regularly out to American audiences, the terrorists target not only Americans, but they target their fellow Muslims. They aim to impose a new kind of violent tyranny, a tyranny that owes more to the totalitarian impulses of the twentieth century than to the great religion the terrorists are attempting to hijack. You can appreciate better than most that hundreds of millions of Muslims who aspire to freedom and prosperity are, in many cases, on the frontlines of the struggle against terrorism.

By helping them to stand against the terrorists without fear, we help ourselves. As President Bush said in his State of the Union Address last January, "America will take the side of brave men and women who advocate the values that will bring lasting peace around the world, including the Islamic world, because we have a greater objective," the President said, "than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a just and peaceful world, beyond the war on terror."

Turkey has a uniquely important role. Fashioning and sustaining democracy and free markets can be a difficult road, as history attests, but with creativity and tenacity and willingness to sacrifice for the common good, Turkey can recover from its economic and political challenges. We understand the extraordinary difficulties that now face Turkey’s economy. But from this crisis Turkey has the opportunity to emerge even stronger than before, if it makes the reforms that are necessary. And these reforms must come, not only in economic policy, but in the fundamental institutions that are critical for Turkey to fully enter the 21st Century.

With the support of the International Monetary Fund, Turkey has formulated a reform plan that has stabilized the economic situation and corrected long-standing weaknesses in the economy. Turks have endured considerable pain, but they also have shown the courage to correct these weaknesses, and there were encouraging signs that the economy was beginning to turn the corner toward growth. Turkey’s current political uncertainties, however, have created new question marks for the economy, but as the political situation stabilizes the economic improvement should continue.

The United States sees our partnership with Turkey extending to the economic field as well. We want to help in Turkey’s recovery. We want to help promote Turkey’s economic growth, and we want to help Turkey become competitive in the global economy. President Bush has raised our economic relations with Turkey to a strategic level; we are pursuing every effort to increase our trade and investment from a base that is admittedly too low.

Reforms to ensure effectiveness and transparency in regulations concerning foreign investment and settlement of investment disputes will make Turkey even more attractive to outside money, including American investment. It was an essential part of President Ozal’s great vision for Turkey that it should be place so open to competition and offering such a level playing field to investors that they would flock to Turkey. Foreign investment and the declining role of the state in Turkey can help propel this thriving economy to new heights.

That process of economic reform is closely linked to the question of Turkey’s aspiration to join the European Union. When Ataturk created the Turkish Republic nearly a century ago, he envisioned a Turkey that was modern, western and secular. Turkey has traveled very far along that road, and he would be proud to see the Turkey of today. Turkey is now at a crossroads. As profound as our friendship with Turkey may be, it is even more profound when added to Turkey’s fundamental relationship with Europe. Turkey’s full integration into European institutions is in the best interests of the people of Turkey, the people of Europe and the United States.

There are certainly some Europeans who are open to Turkish membership in the European Union and wish to nurture Turkish progress on the Copenhagen criteria. But there are also Europeans who are inward looking, parochial and rejectionist. They fear competition from Turkey. They fear diversity. But a European Union that includes Turkey will be a stronger, safer, and more richly diverse EU. In many ways, Turkish EU membership is as much a benefit to Europe as it would be to Turkey.

Turkey’s aspiration to join the European Union is a development that should be welcomed by all people who share the values of freedom and democracy that grew out of European civilization and suggest the name "Western values". But, as I said earlier, these are not just Western values of European values. They are Muslim and Asian values, as well. Indeed, they are universal values. Europe has a strategic opportunity, by helping Turkey realize its aspirations to join the European Union, to demonstrate to 1.2 billion Muslims in the world that there is a far better path than the one offered by the terrorists.

I know that some Europeans, including some of my friends, grow weary of having American tell them about the importance of bringing Turkey into the EU. They think that perhaps this is not our business, as Americans, and we should mind our own. But, in fact, it is a contribution that Europe can make to all of us. It is in Europe’s enlightened self-interest— but also the interest of every country that recognizes that the way to fight terrorist extremists in the long run is to demonstrate that the values that we call Western are indeed universal; to demonstrate that the benefits we enjoy – the benefits of a free and prosperous and open society—are available equally to Muslims.

Turkey, of course, faces enormous problems today. But it is always important to remember how far along the journey Turkey has progressed. Bernard Lewis has observed that Turkey looks very different, depending on whether it is viewed from the Middle East or from Europe, viewed from where it has come from or viewed from where it is heading. There is no doubt in my mind Turkey will continue to move forward. For, as Ataturk understood so deeply, Turks have an enormous ability to survive—through their patience and, above all, through their pride, their courage, and their openness.

With such courage, Turkey needs to seek, with all those concerned, a solution for Cyprus. We support the good offices of the Secretary General. We believe that a negotiated settlement can and should be found. Such a solution is in the interest of Turkey and Greece, and in the interest of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. It is a difficult challenge, but I believe it can be met.

To win the war against terrorism, and, in so doing, to shape a more peaceful world, we must reach out to the hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant people in the Muslim world. We must speak to those people around the world who aspire to enjoy the blessings of freedom and free enterprise. Turkey offers a compelling demonstration that these values are compatible with modern society—that religious beliefs need not be sacrificed to build modern democratic institutions.

One nation for whom Turkey’s democratic model can serve as an inspiration is Iraq. Iraq currently suffers under the rule of a tyrant who oppresses and slaughters his own people and threatens his neighbors with the most deadly of weapons. Iraq’s educated, industrious population—with the aid of its large endowment of natural resources—could rapidly build a modern and wealthy society that would be a source of prosperity, rather than insecurity, not only for the people of Iraq but also for its neighbors. That is why the United States continues to look for new leadership in Iraq, united ethnic and religious leadership, that will preserve the territorial integrity of that country, and that is committed to a democratic future.

During my meetings with Turkish government officials, I look forward to hearing what they have to say concerning the future of Iraq. We value Turkey’s views highly, and my colleagues back in Washington will be very interested in what I have to report. Turkey has large and legitimate interests in Iraq, and it has suffered economically from Iraq’s international isolation since the time of the Gulf War. Turkey is naturally interested in the fate of the Turcoman minority in Iraq, which, like the rest of the Iraqi population, has suffered grievously from tyrannical rule. And Turkey reasonably wishes to be assured that events in Iraq won’t have a negative impact on Turkey’s own unity or its hopes for emerging from the present economic crisis.

President Bush has made clear just how dangerous the current Iraqi regime is to the United States and that it presents a danger that we cannot afford to live with indefinitely. But we also understand that Turkey has a vital national interest in the kind of regime that rules in Baghdad. Natural patterns of trade and investment should prevail, not those that Baghdad manipulates today.

It is vital to Turkey for the people of Iraq to govern themselves democratically, with full respect for the rights of minorities, including the Turcomans, and to maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq. A separate Kurdish state in the north would be destabilizing to Turkey and would be unacceptable to the United States. Fortunately, the Kurds of northern Iraq increasingly seem to understand this fact and understand the importance of thinking of themselves as Iraqis who will participate fully in the political life of a future democratic Iraq. A democratic Iraq will stimulate economic growth with neighbors, including Turkey, and will stabilize the region.

Another great obstacle to the dream of peace in this part of the world is the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Over these many years, after the sacrifice of so many, it is clear that the solution to this conflict will not be achieved by the force of tanks or bombs. A lasting resolution of this conflict can only come through political means. And the outline of a solution has been clear for some time, one based on two fundamental elements: the acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state within secure and recognized boundaries; and, the creation of a Palestinian state that brings to an end Israeli occupation and provides a better life for its citizens and security for its neighbors. Such an outcome can finally make Palestinians free. Free in every sense—free from external occupation and free from homegrown tyranny.

Here again, the democratic values that the United States and Turkey share and hold so important also represent the key to progress as we seek to resolve the long-running tragic circumstances in the Middle East. Speaking at the White House a couple weeks ago, President Bush suggested what might seem like a great stride, but may in truth offer the only long-term solution to achieving peace and stability between Israelis and Palestinians. He called upon Palestinians "to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty." He said, "If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts."

Men and women everywhere yearn for peace, for a better life for their children, for security and liberty. Where governments are elected to represent the people, there is hope that they will carry those aspirations to the negotiating table. But governments that aim principally to control rather than represent the people will always look for enemies, internal and external. They are not now— and have never been – the peacemakers who can lead their people to peace.

Building a working democracy will take enormous effort. But, in the end, those who take an active role in forming their destiny are more likely to live in peace and enjoy the fruits of peace.

Turkey’s ability to speak to both sides of this bitterly divided Arab-Israeli issue constitutes an important element of hope in a dangerous and difficult situation. When the process can get back to the point of serious negotiations – and hopefully sooner rather than later -- Israel’s confidence in its relationship with Turkey will increase its willingness to take risks for peace.

Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States, Faruk Logolgu, was one of only two foreign ambassadors invited to speak at the White House on March 11 to commemorate the passage of six months since September 11 and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I would like to close with his remarks. "Turkish society, " the Ambassador said, "is living testimony to the proposition that Islam, democracy, and modernity are compatible. Our secular society is one where civilizations do not clash," he emphasized, "but where indeed they embrace. As we fight terrorism, "he said, "we must at the same time, strive for inclusion and participation, trying to win the hearts and minds of people everywhere for the values we together cherish." I could not agree more.

In Ataturk’s later years, he observed that nations are bound more by sentiment than by treaties. Turkey and the United States are bound by the values we cherish and by one other thing: arkadaslik—friendship—a word, I am told, that is among the most important words in the Turkish language. It is a friendship our countries have forged in war and strengthened in peace. It is a friendship of our countries’ leaders who together have faced the challenges of our times. This friendship of ours will continue to be a powerful force in the fight against terrorism, in the battle for hearts and minds.

For people who cherish freedom and seed peace, these are difficult times. But, such times also can deepen our understanding of the truth. This truth we know: the single greatest threat to peace and freedom in our time is terrorism. So this truth we also affirm: the future does not belong to terrorists. The future belongs to those who dream the oldest and noblest dream of all, the dream of peace and freedom.

Cok tesekkur ederim. Many thanks to you, our esteemed allies, our Turkish friends.


Q: Thank you for a very enlightening speech. We hear a lot about the unilateral nature of U.S. foreign policy. What is the perspective of unilateralism that you personally have? And what is the perspective of the Bush administration?

A: I think unilateralism is a word that people use to describe our policy when they don’t like it. It is not a word that we believe describes what we are doing at all. We do not believe that we can succeed in the world without working with other countries. That was true before September 11. It’s even more true after September 11. But I do think that it is important in working with other countries to think of some other things, as well. It is not simply multilateralism for the sake of multilateralism. It is very important to have partners who share your values and objectives. That’s why, when we come to multilateralism with Turkey, it is so much more important to us than is multilateralism with countries who fundamentally may not support democratic values or, maybe even in some cases, a peaceful international order. Secondly, we don’t believe that working with other countries simply means taking a public-opinion poll and going down to the lowest-common denominator of what everyone agrees on. We do believe that there is a role for leadership. And some of that role falls on the United States partly because of our unique resources. And I don’t like to use the world "power". That’s what people say. It isn’t even primarily military power – I think our economic power is even more important – but mostly I think, and I’ve said this many times, the great power of the United States lies in what we stand for. And it’s powerful because we stand for people determining their own future. That’s completely at odds with going around telling people how to behave. But there are times – I experienced this personally eleven years ago, after Iraq invaded Kuwait – when people, and countries whose interests are affected, are not out there waiting for the United States to take a public-opinion poll and ask what should be done. They are eager for the United States to come forward with ideas about what should be done and then listen to friends tell them whether that idea is right or wrong. But they need someone to take leadership. By the way, it isn’t always the United States. Right now it’s Turkey that is taking leadership in the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. But you don’t form effective frameworks of effective international action without some countries taking the lead. So, that’s the perspective that I would offer. And I would also say to those people who think we don’t listen to our friends and allies that they are simply wrong. I heard this when President Bush announced, last May, that we had serious reservations about the constraints of the ABM treaty and that our national interests were adversely affected by that treaty. I heard the cries of unilateralism. The first thing that we did was to send people, myself included, all around the world. I went to France and Germany and Poland and Russia to hear people’s views. The President didn’t actually do anything about withdrawing from that treaty until over a year later. And when we did withdraw from the treaty last year, it happened in a framework where the U.S.- Russian relationship was the strongest it has ever been. We didn’t get there by unilateralism. Similarly, there are many issues on our agenda today. I came here to Turkey as part of consultations. As part of understanding Turkish perspectives on those issues. We’re a long way from making decisions. We are very interested in understanding the positions of countries that understand the problems and countries that have an interest in the outcome. It doesn’t mean we don’t have our views. We have our strong views. But we listen to other people. And thank you for giving me an opportunity to say all of that.

Q: I am a columnist for Turkiye newspaper. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Turkey. I have followed your remarks in and out of office, and I know that your remarks are not perfunctory but come from true affection and knowledge and information about Turkey. Your comment about our membership in the European Union is very perceptive, especially for those who can read between the lines. I have a specific question within the context of the European Union. For our candidacy for membership one of the conditions is the abolition of the death penalty. The European Union is against the death sentence for Ocalan, which has been approved by five Turkish courts. Now, in most of the United States there is the death sentence. If, and I should say "when," the terrorists behind the September 11 terrorist attacks are apprehended, they will surely be executed. How do you comment on this?

A: I suppose I’d have a firmer view if the European Union had invited the United States to become a member. But I understand the quandary as you pose it. We obviously have our strong views on those issues. I think I’m going to be a diplomat here and not try to get in the middle of an important dialogue between Turkey and the EU. I hope that in the course of this dialogue that this issue is raised. I mean, what would one of our European allies do if they were to capture Osama bin Laden? I hope at least they would extradite him to the United States and we would finesse that issue. It’s a difficult issue but I think all of those issues, including the one you raised, should be seen in a broad historical context. In my view, both Europe and Turkey will be much better off with Turkey in the EU. On both sides there is going to have to be compromise in order to achieve that. But I think that in the long run people will be much stronger as a result. So, I don’t have a formula for you. I only think that one should think about everyone of these small issues in the larger framework of what is to be gained strategically, both for Turkey and for Europe, but also, as I said, for the world, because extending the European Union to a country that is overwhelmingly Muslim is going to mean so much symbolically in this larger struggle we face to convince a billion Muslims that the benefits of modern, democratic, prosperous society are open to them. I believe it is difficult to exaggerate the strategic importance of that and I would suggest that that is something for people to keep their eye on.

Q: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, we highly appreciate your words. First, do you believe that the Cyprus question can be resolved by the efforts of the Turkish side only? In terms of the European Union, why is a Cyprus solution is a pre-condition for Turkish membership, but not for Cyprus’ membership? On another topic, on Iraq, as you now, a few years ago we had an interesting process known as "the Ankara process". Do you agree that it would be a good idea to re-start it?

A: You’re not going to like my answer – but maybe you will – because those are precisely the kinds of questions that I hope to be much smarter about after I leave Turkey. And particularly on Cyprus, where, quite honestly, I know it’s important. I also know it is the business of the State Department. And I try most of the time to "stay in my lane," as they say, and stick to defense issues. But it is very important for all of us. We have in our government very regular discussions, during which Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld and the Vice President and Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, get together to discuss issues, sometimes with the President, sometimes without him. And in preparation for those meetings, we have meetings of what is called the Deputies’ Committee, of which I am a member, so that even though some of these issues aren’t "in my lane" I get to comment on them. So, I hope to be much smarter on Cyprus when I leave than I am now. On Iraq I have a lot of views but I am quite honestly more here to listen than to preach. The mechanism that you mention is one of the ones I’d like to think more about because, as your question suggests, there’s been a lot of experience over the past ten years that we should draw some lessons from, some of it negative, some of it positive.