Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002
(Statement en route to Turkey)
Wolfowitz: The President asked me to visit two of our most important allies, U.K. and Turkey, as well as NATO. And the basic message that we are carrying is that the peaceful outcome, the peaceful resolution of the problem of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction requires a credible threat of force. And that is the message that I think is very well understood by our British allies. I think even Parliamentarians I've met with yesterday understand that point. We had, as always, very good discussions with British Defense Officials and the British Military. They have a very professional military (inaudible) excellent cooperation. Very helpful to have that kind of (inaudible). I met with Defense Minister (inaudible), with parliamentary, undersecretary for foreign affairs Michael Brian. With Jonathan Powell, who I guess is the Prime Minister's chief of staff. Prime Minister Blair actually dropped in at the beginning of our meeting which was a gesture we appreciated. I think it was precisely also intended to show that how important he regards our cooperation. He had just finished meeting with a group of Iraqi women who were there to talk about human rights violations in Iraq. And it was the same day that Jack Straw issued that dossier on human rights conditions in Iraq. And it was quite clear that Blair had been personally quite moved by the exchanges with those women and it put a human face on the problem that we are dealing with. And I think it's, as I've said in another occasion, it's not an accident that people who build terror weapons and support terrorism also terrorize their own people. That's certainly true of Saddam Hussein.
Basically in Turkey we have the same message, which is that our goal remains to get a peaceful outcome and a peaceful implementation of Resolution 1441. But the only possible hope of doing that given the resistance that Saddam's put up over the last for eleven years is to convince him that that is his only alternative. And that means having a credible threat of force. It's important that he see that he is surrounded by the international community, not only in the political sense, but in a real, practical military sense. And Turkey has a very important role to play in that regard. The more support we get from Turkey, the more chance, the better our chances are of avoiding war. Our planning has got to proceed. To have a military option, you've got to do the serious planning and serious preparation. And that is an essential part of convincing Saddam that we are serious. As we have said over and over again, the president has not made the decision on using force. In fact, as he said, our hope is to avoid it, but that our goal is to disarm Iraq voluntarily, if possible, and by force, if necessary. Turkish participation, if it does come to the use of force, is very important in managing the consequences, in producing the result as decisively as possible, and also in helping to make sure that post-war Iraq is a positive force in the region, not a destabilizing one. So it's very crucial to have Turkey intimately involved in the planning process. It can make a big difference for every one, especially for Turkey. It's not simply some favor that we're asking the Turks to do for us. It's something that can make a much better situation for Turkey, should it become necessary to use force.
We are very well aware that the Turks are worried about the economic consequences of the crisis in the region. They've already paid a pretty high price for the sanctions and the isolation of Iraq over the last 11 years. In fact, if one takes a medium- and long-term view, a free and prosperous Iraq is going to be, I think, a huge gain for Turkey, economically and in other ways as well. But, if there is a crisis in the region, there are very likely to do some short-term economic consequences and that's obviously concerning Turkey and that's a subject we will be talking about.
Finally, as you've said, this trip happens to come within what may be the most important two or three weeks. Many, many years in the Turkish-European relations were both the possibility of a date for starting accession talks for Turkey to the EU on the table. The upcoming Copenhagen Summit and also the promising peace plan of the Secretary General of the United Nations has put forward on Cyprus at the same time. And all of that coming together with a brand new Government in Turkey, which came (inaudible) what people call the political earthquake in Turkey. So it's a pretty amazing time for a visit in Turkey. There would be every reason to make this visit even if we didn't have so much to talk about on the subject of Iraq. And we will be talking about Cyprus and the EU and the whole range of Turkish-EU relations. This is, as I think (inaudible) yesterday, it's been American policy for ten years officially, and I think longer, informally, to support Turkey's accession in the EU. We understand that that's a European decision; we understand that Turkey has a very long way to go to meet the standards of the European Union. But it is very important in our view to have that door open to Turkey. That's a real encouragement to meeting the standards. It's something that really can help to pull Turkey forward and become the kind of country that we will all benefit from having as a model for the Muslim world of what a free and democratic and secular Muslim society can achieve. So, the stakes in that regard are large and they are not unrelated also to the (inaudible).