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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability in Ankara, Turkey

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
December 04, 2002

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002

(Media availability with traveling U.S. press, Hilton Hotel, Ankara, Turkey.)

Wolfowitz: Let me just say, sir, very briefly. It's been an excellent day. I think very good discussions, not only with people we are familiar with in the Foreign Ministry and in the Turkish General Staff, but also with the Prime Minister and the ministers in the new government, and for that matter with the leader of the opposition. And I think one of the most striking observations I would make is that here is a new Prime Minister with an enormous plate, a huge agenda of big issues and he's barely been in office and what he projects is somebody who is very very strongly supportive of Turkey going toward Europe, pressing very hard to gain a date for Turkey in Copenhagen. And he also, I think, understands fundamentally what we're trying to get at in terms of presenting Saddam Hussein with a unified world that will allow us to have some chance of achieving a disarmament of Iraq by peaceful means. Also, I guess this is perhaps not so surprising given his political background -- some people might have predicted it - but he understands, I think, very very well what the people of Iraq are suffering under that regime. And he understands what the potential could be for the whole region if the people of Iraq finally get the kind of government they deserve and can live in a democratic society so that Turkey can be a model. So I would say that the early signs of this government are very positive for Turkey and for Turkey's relations with the west - not only with Europe but ourselves.

I think I better leave it at that. I guess I'll try one.

Q: Can we write that you've got agreement to use airspace or air bases territory?

Wolfowitz: I still have more discussions to go on here. And let's save those questions until we're done.

Q: We were told that the U.S. has asked for access to a half dozen bases in Turkey?

Wolfowitz: Let's save that to later.

Q: Later tonight?

Wolfowitz: Well, I think on the way home. I don't think we're going to have time tonight for that, or the energy. There might be one more discussion in the morning.

Q: Is it possible to (inaudible)?

Wolfowitz: I will do it, and we'll see if we can line that up early and then get word back to you so you know whether or not (inaudible).

Q: (inaudible)

Secretary Wolfowitz: I feel very good about the way things are going. I do feel that we have a genuine common understanding. We understand their problems a lot better than we did before, including the economic ones. We had a very good discussion of what really concerns them economically. That's the impact of a crisis in the region on the economy that's still fragile with the psychology of the market that affects the economy. Those are very productive discussions.

Q: (inaudible)

Wolfowitz: Across the board, yes. You really can't disentangle the economics from the diplomacy from the military. They really are integrated in a very close way. When I said I think there really is a common understanding of what we are trying to achieve here, both in terms of trying to avoid a conflict and also if there is one, what the desirable outcome would be.

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