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Powell Interview by Turkish TV

Interview by Turkish TV

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs

Washington, DC March 3, 2003

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: My pleasure.

QUESTION: After what happened on Saturday, what are you talking with the Turks now? Do you have any hopes that there could be another bill for deployment of U.S. troops?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, first let me say that, obviously, we were disappointed with what happened over the weekend, but Turkey and the United States are great allies, we're not in a panic over this, and we don't think Turks ought to be in a panic over it either.

I've talked to Ambassador Pearson this morning and he's in constant contact and conversation with the Turkish Government and also with members of the Turkish parliament.

On the question of whether there will be a second resolution or not, that is wholly a judgment of the Turkish Government. I really wouldn't have any opinion on that at all.

QUESTION: Do you want the Turkish Government to pursue that option?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Turkey is a democracy. Turkey has an elected government. Turkey has an elected parliament. And so that's up to the Turkish Government. That is not up to me.

QUESTION: So doesn't that -- you don't hate Turkey after what happened and you're not holding any grudges against Turkey or just you're not planning to punish Turkey in the future for what happens (inaudible) or whatever? And in light of what happened, how would you expect U.S.-Turkish relations be shaped in the future?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: The United States and Turkey have had relations for a very long time. We're allies with Turkey. We're NATO allies -- we're NATO allies with Turkey. And so there will be, I'm sure, the continuation of a strong Turkish relationship.

I don't want to mislead you. We would have been happier had the Turkish parliament accepted the government's proposition. Why is that? We believe that an Iraq that is multiethnic, democratic, had no weapons of mass destruction, was at peace with its neighbors and was economically viable, would be a good thing for Turkey.

But as I say, Turkey is a democracy, the Turkish parliament has spoken, and we'll see what to do next.

QUESTION: I get the impression that this is all, you don't expect anything else from the Turkish Government, you don't expect the Turkish Government to move on with a second deal for U.S. troop deployments.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, sir, I didn't say that. I said that that was a decision of the Turkish Government. I said I had no expectations one way or the other. Turkey is a democracy and the Turkish Government will decide what it wishes to put to its parliament.

What I did answer you was that Ambassador Pearson, with whom I had a very good conversation this morning, said he is in close consultation with Turkey about all kinds of things in the future, and we'll see what happens.

QUESTION: If the situation remains the same, will the Turkish parliament's move affect the U.S. decision on whether you use force on Iraq or not in terms of military planning?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, sir. That is a decision that is for our President. And I saw a very interesting interview this morning with the Commander of all of our forces in Europe, SACEUR, and General Jones, I think very properly, said that while it would have been an advantage to do what was proposed in the Turkish parliament, the United States of America and its coalition allies can certainly do this without Turkey.

Don't forget that we already have 20 countries that have offered basing and overflight rights, another 16 countries have offered other kinds of facilities, 19 countries are participating with us with actual forces. So we're not alone in this, but Turkey has to make its own decisions.

QUESTION: In the event of war, I think you would expect to use the air bases of Incirlik, Diyarbakir and Batman in Turkey. These were under the provision of the previous bilateral access by parliament; is that right?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, I don't know. We will now have some decisions to make and Turks will have some decisions to make, and we'll see what -- how the Turkish parliament's vote affects our military strategy.

QUESTION: If the situation remains the same, what will Turkey lose by not helping the United States?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, this is only my view, and that is I believe that Turkey will lose the chance to make sure that if there has to be military force that the Iraq that arises will be a different kind of Iraq, an Iraq, as I said, which will be multiethnic and democratic, that will have no weapons of mass destruction, be at peace with its neighbors; and I think Turkey loses a chance to be involved in that in a more significant way. But we'll see what happens.

QUESTION: Again, if the situation remains like this, in the event of a war, without an agreement with Turkey on military matters at this point, would you oppose the presence of Turkish troops in Northern Iraq in large numbers?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We have always said that we believed that it would be a mistake for Turkey to deploy troops into Northern Iraq unilaterally, yes.

QUESTION: So you will continue to urge Turkey to refrain from any unilateral action in Northern Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Yes, we will.

QUESTION: Are you concerned over tensions in Northern Iraq between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds? Do you think that could lead to something really bad?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We certainly are concerned about it and that's why we have been so clear in saying that we oppose the creation of a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq.

It's also why President Bush sent his special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, to participate in the meeting in Salahuddin. And what did he do there? He tried, first of all, to promote interests of all of the groups represented there, including very much the Turkoman. He urged Kurds and Turks to come into some conversation together so that they can realize they're on the same side of this issue and not on opposite sides of the issue. And you can count on us to continue to try to bring Turks and Kurds together as best as we possibly can.

I think the idea that those people in Northern Iraq, who have fashioned for themselves a new kind of life, are at odds with Turkey, who would like to see a new kind of Iraq, I think it's too bad, and we'll work to see that Turks and Kurds have the right kind of conversation. But again, it's up to them.

QUESTION: In the event of a war, what will happen to (inaudible) during and after a war?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think it's very important that we step back here and recognize that it's not the purpose of the United States to have a war. I mean, you're assuming -- if there's a war, if there's a war. There doesn't have to be a war. It doesn't --

QUESTION: No, no, let me -- we don't have to --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: But let me finish. One of the reasons that we had hoped that the Turkish parliament would make this decision over the weekend was so that it would be a further deterrent to Saddam Hussein. I mean, what's our theory here? Our theory is, is that inspectors are good, but inspectors need to do disarmament, and the only way Saddam Hussein is going to disarm peacefully is if he looks up and sees that he is surrounded.

So I believe that one of the disadvantages of what happened over the weekend is we lost one more chance to try to convince Saddam Hussein to do this peacefully. I think that's too bad.

QUESTION: So Saddam is probably encouraged by the Turkish Government's -- the Turkish parliament's decision?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I have no way to know what Saddam thinks or doesn't think. All I would like to see is continuing international pressure in a unified way to have Saddam Hussein meet his obligations to the United Nations -- not to the United States but to the United Nations -- under Security Council Resolution 1441.

QUESTION: Now, given the current conditions, do you think Turkey has lost its chance to contributing to the future of Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, we'll see what happens in the next few days. As I say, Ambassador Pearson is in close contact with the Turkish Government. We're, obviously, in very close contact here with Ambassador Logoglu and we'll see what happens over these next few days.

QUESTION: And what are they talking about?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: All kinds of things. I mean, the U.S.-Turkish relationship, as you said, didn't stop on Saturday morning. There is a U.S.-Turkish relationship. There are issues in Iraq. There are issues in the United Nations. And we're discussing all of those things, as you would expect allies to do so.

QUESTION: Last question.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: What would be your message to the Turkish people, the Turkish Government and the Turkish parliament?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I want our message to be that Turkey is a democracy, we respect Turkish democracy, that the United States and Turkey are allies; that we hoped that there would be a way for us to work together more closely, that we hoped that people in Turkey recognize the vision that President Bush has of disarming Saddam Hussein peacefully, but if it can't be done peacefully, then doing it in such a way which would be advantageous to Turkey; and that there will be ways that we can continue to work with the Turkish Government in the future. Turkey's got economic challenges. Turkey's got a big decision to make on Cyprus. Turkey's got a lot of issues and we'd like to be working with Turkey in all of those areas.

QUESTION: And the very, very last thing. If the situation remains like this, the Turks should forget about the assistance package; is that right?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, the assistance package was connected to our efforts in Turkey on Iraq, and so I would say it's something that will have to be -- will go away or have to be renegotiated.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for joining us.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you. My pleasure. [End]

Released on March 4, 2003

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