Monday, June 4, 2001
(Media availability with Turkish Minister of National Defense Sabahattin Cakmakoglu in Ankara, Turkey)
Cakmakoglu (through translator): As you know, the relations between Turkey and the U.S. have a long history, and the values we share together have embodied the ties that already exist between the two countries.
I believe the close ties that have developed between Turkey and the U.S. will continue to strengthen in the 21st Century as well. As you know, Turkey is acting very responsibly for the security and stability in the region. We support ways for the amicable settlement of the disputes that are occurring in our region through our joint relations.
In view of the special relations with Turkey and the U.S., I would like to say again that we have a very strategic relationship with the U.S. in maintaining peace and stability in the region. I also believe that the military relations between Turkey and U.S. will advance even further through the vast experience Mr. Rumsfeld brings with him.
With the time constraints, we will be holding discussions with Mr. Rumsfeld on both military and defense industry issues, on bilateral and multinational, multilateral aspects of the subject matters. I believe we will be discussing varied subjects such as Operation Northern West, Balkan issues, the Caucasus, the Middle East and the expansion of NATO and ESDI.
And as I've stated earlier, time is limited; therefore, we will probably concentrate on matters such as expansion of NATO, EU and ESDI. I have the opportunity to express at ministerial level Turkey's views on the subject matter. Thank you very much.
Rumsfeld: Thank you Mr. Minister for your hospitality. I came to Turkey first as a young NATO parliamentarian in the early 1960s and have been back many times as an ambassador of NATO in the 1970s, as the minister of defense for President Ford and most recently until today, as special Middle East envoy for President Reagan. So on this first extended trip to Europe as President Bush's secretary of defense, I'm very pleased to be here in Turkey for my first stop with a close ally and friend and associate in NATO, a country that I respect and look forward to working with in my new capacity.
The minister listed a number of current issues that are important in the alliance and with Turkey and the United States and certainly we will be discussing those prior to my departure to see the U.S. and Turkish and allied troops in Incirlik. But I would be remiss if I did not mention that we are close to the 50th anniversary of Turkey's assistance and involvement in the Korean War, and I know there are a number of veterans of that conflict here in Turkey, and once again we valued and appreciated that relationship with those back even farther than my first trip here in the 1960's.
I look forward to meeting with the minister and his associates in the government today and discussing the important issues that are before us in a close and cooperative way. And I'm delighted there's such beautiful weather. Thank you very much.