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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Turkish Media Availability

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
November 20, 2003

(Participating were Ambassador Faruk Logoglu, Turkish ambassador to the United States and Gen. Ilker Basbug, Turkish Chief Minister of Defense.) 

 

            MR. WOLFOWITZ:  General Basbug has just finished two days of very successful discussions in Williamsburg with our U.S.-Turkish High Level Defense Group, reaffirming and advancing the very close cooperation between the -- our two defense departments.  Turkey is a critical ally of this country in a very important region, and a country that stands for secular democracy in a part of the world where I think those ideals have important way to go forward.

 

            I want to take this occasion also to express our deep sorrow at the horrible terrorist attacks that have taken place in Turkey in recent days.  I think I couldn't say it any better than President Bush said it in London, that the terrorists are attacking Turkey the way they attack free countries in general.  They are people who hate freedom.  They hate free nations.  The president said today again, we've seen their ambitions of murder.  The cruelty is part of their strategy.  The terrorists hope to intimidate; they hope to demoralize, but they will not succeed.  Turkey has a long, tragic history of standing firm in the face of terrorism and standing firm for freedom, freedom of religion, for democracy.  That's why, General Basbug, it is so good to have Turkey as our close ally.

 

            Would you like to say a word?

 

            GEN. BASBUG:  Thank you very much.  Thanks so much.

 

            We have had very successful and productive meetings here, and really, I am going back to Turkey with great hopes we believe that Turkish-American relationships are deep-rooted and are long-lasting relations.  I think as a responsible people, I think we should try to make our relations better.

 

            And also of course we have been very sad what happened recently in Turkey, and we assess that one of the primary objectives of this terrorist act to -- how can I say? -- maybe to -- to make the responsible people some wrong -- to take the wrong decision.  But we are not going to do so.  We will not go with this way.  So we will overcome these difficulties within a normal way.

 

            And since we arrived in the United States, really, we have been shown great hospitality, great friendship.  So I would like to thank Mr. Secretary again for what has been done for our visit.  Thank you very much.

 

            MR. WOLFOWITZ:  Thank you.

 

            Q     Mr. Ambassador?  Mr. Ambassador?  I wonder if I might ask you, sir, do you see this as -- do you see this as an attempt to split Washington away from its allies in the war on terrorism?

 

            Amb. Logoglu:  Even if there is such an attempt, it is not going to happen.  There is not going to be any split between Washington and its allies, certainly not between Turkey and Washington.

 

            Q     General or Mr. Ambassador, can you tell us what information you about any ties that Turkish-Islamic groups may have to al Qaeda?

 

            GEN. BASBUG:  I left Turkey last Saturday, so I don't have any concrete information.  But just -- I read it in the newspaper regarding the first event that took place last Saturday, I think al Qaeda made that plain they were behind that incident.

 

            But concerning the last event, I don't have any information.

 

            Q     [Inaudible] before these incidents, there was not a concern among the Turkish government about ties between Turkish-Islamic groups and al Qaeda.

 

            GEN. BASBUG:  I don't want to make any comment, so I don't --

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            MR. WOLFOWITZ:  Look, as Americans, we know just from Oklahoma City, it only takes two criminal minds to kill 150 people with a truck bomb.  We're dealing with relatively small numbers of people who can do, unfortunately, enormous damage if they're bent on murder.  And when my boss referred to a "long, hard slog" in this war on terrorism, it was reference to the fact that despite many victories, some very important ones both on the battlefield and the field of law enforcement and capturing and killing many of the top leaders of al Qaeda, they are still there.

 

            What in some ways is impressive to me is how many attacks have not happened, how many things we've been able to prevent.  We can't prevent them all.  In fact, that's why we have to be on offense.  We have to take this war to these people.  As the president has said over and over again, it's going to be a long struggle.  It's not going to end quickly.

 

            But I just -- we're going to have to wrap this up… I would like to go one step further than the ambassador.  They are not only not going to succeed at splitting us from Turkey.  This kind of horrible act brings all decent people closer.  It has brought Turkish-Muslims and Turkish-Jews closer together.  And it brings Turkey and the United States and for the matter, the United Kingdom and the entire civilized world closer together.

 

            Thank you.

 

 

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