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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability at the Turkish Prime Ministry

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
December 03, 2002

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002

(Media availability at the Turkish Prime Ministry)

Wolfowitz: I'm delighted to be back in Turkey and so is my colleague Marc Grossman, who feels like Turkey is a second home. We had a very constructive meeting just now with Prime Minister Gul. I'd known him before, but this is my first chance to meet him as Prime Minister. It was a pleasure to learn that our president, President Bush, was the first foreign leader to call and congratulate him as prime minister. I think that is a nice symbol of the close relationship between our two countries. We discussed there's a lot on the Turkish agenda right now and we discussed a wide range of subjects. Very importantly, we talked about Iraq and our focus with Iraq is to try to bring about a peaceful resolution of the problem that's posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and that requires persuading Saddam Hussein that there has to be a fundamental change. Turkish-American cooperation can be key to achieving that peaceful outcome which is what both our countries greatly desire. Of course it's not the only issue on Turkey's foreign agenda now. We are very conscious and supportive of Turkey's desire to achieve membership in the European Union and we are aware of how critical the upcoming Copenhagen Summit will be for Turkey's aspirations to eventually join the EU. We've been doing everything that we can to be supportive of that effort and we talked about that with the Prime Minister. Also talked about the issue of Cyprus, which is very much on the agenda today also, and our interest in helping in any way to support a fair and just resolution of that problem. So, once again overall it was a very constructive meeting. It's clearly an exciting time for this new government in Turkey with an awful lot on its plate. As we come as friends of Turkey and believing greatly that U.S.-Turkish cooperation can be the key now and in the future to peace and stability in this region just as it has been in the past. Take a few questions.

Q: There are reports about U.S. has formally presented its demands about Iraq?

Wolfowitz: Even before this government came into office we've had some extensive discussions with the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Turkish Military about the various kinds of planning that can be done. But, let me emphasize: our focus now, including in that planning, is to do the things that we can to persuade Saddam Hussein that Resolution 1441 represents a new era. That we are not playing games any longer, that we have to have disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. President Bush has said voluntarily if possible, by force if necessary. I believe that close UN/American cooperation is going to be a key to achieving that desired goal of having Iraq disarm voluntarily.

Q: What about the military aspect of the planning?

Wolfowitz: Military planning is in that same context. Our focus now is on convincing Saddam Hussein that we are serious, the world is serious, U.S.-Turkish cooperation is serious. And the purpose I believe is to finally convince him that he has to change his ways. That's our real hope of gaining a peaceful resolution of this crisis. One more question.

Q: Did you talk about economic situation and aid to Turkey?

Wolfowitz: One thing that we did talk about is the deep concern in Turkey about the condition of the Turkish economy. We've been working closely with the Turkish Government in the IMF and bilaterally ever since the economic crisis broke. We've tried to help Turkey manage its way through it. We understand those anxieties. We are determined to support Turkey whatever comes to make sure that the Turkish economy continues to recover. If there is a crisis in this region, we know that Turkey is going to be one of the countries the most affected. We want to make sure we deal with that. Thank you very much.

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