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Marc Grossman IV by TRTS Reha Atasagun Turkish TV

Interview by TRT S Reha Atasagun (Turkish TV)

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs

Washington, DC March 25, 2003

QUESTION: Thank you for sparing your time.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: My pleasure, as always.

QUESTION: The economic package was off the table, and I remember Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying that, you know, we will see what Turkey can offer and then we will make our offer.

So what happened?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I'm not sure what you mean by what happened.

QUESTION: All of a sudden, we have this supplemental?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Sure. Turkey is an ally of the United States. We had a package that was put together that was connected to the vote of the Turkish Parliament on the 1st of March.

And as I've said to you on a number of occasions, Turkey is a democracy. The Parliament of Turkey made their decision.

And so once Turkey made a decision, we had some decisions to make as well, and so what the President has done today is made a proposition to our Congress and we'll see what happens to it. Turkey is an important country, Turkey is a front-line country; and we'd like to be there in case there are economic consequences of this war for Turkey, and very importantly, as well, to promote and foster Turkish economic reform.

You'll notice that in this supplemental, there is money for many countries ?? for Jordan, for Pakistan ??

QUESTION: Yes.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: ?? for Israel.

QUESTION: Yes, but we were told that the economic package was off and that the Administration will see what Turkey can offer for a greater cooperation.

So what is the greater cooperation now?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think one of the problems here is that we have been talking these weeks as if the Turkish decision on what to do about Iraq was somehow guided by money, and I don't know about you, but I've never really believed that.

We had a package that was on the table that we worked out with the Turkish Government before the first of March, and the Turkish Parliament, as is their right, made another decision.

But we are still in an alliance with Turkey. We're still friendly with Turkey. We're still concerned about the future of Turkey.

And so, as with so many of the other countries included in the supplemental budget request that you've referred to, the President has included Turkey.

QUESTION: What will we expect next? Because even the wire services say this is a nice surprise. What will be the next surprise?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I hope the next surprise will be the quick collapse of the Iraqi regime, and we can get on with liberating Iraq and we can get on with the humanitarian requirements we have and we can get on with reconstructing Iraq. That would be the great surprise.

QUESTION: Well, let's go to Northern Iraq, then.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Okay.

QUESTION: Why is there this very fierce objection from the American side concerning Turkey concerns that, you know, they would like to be there because of security concerns, because of stopping a refugee flow?

And don't you think ?? you know, these harsh statements, in a way, it's diplomatically said, but in a way it's a harsh statement saying that, you know, they don't want any Turkish troops in there; and it kind of encourages some groups in the area, some terrorist groups or some groups which might have some hidden agendas, and it might be acting kind of provocative. Don't you think so?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't, actually, and with all due respect, I think I would see this in precisely the reverse.

One of the things we have tried to argue to our Turkish friends is that the entry of Turkish troops into Iraq would, in fact, cause precisely the kinds of troubles that Turkey is concerned about.

We don't want a refugee crisis, Turkey doesn't want a refugee crisis; and up until now, I think the facts will show there is no refugee crisis in Northern Iraq.

There are people who are displaced, there are people who are moving around; but they are mostly finding shelter with relatives, and this large movement of people that Turkey feared would move up toward the Turkish border -- it has not materialized.

And so what we have said to our Turkish friends is, "We understand your concern, we understand why you need to be ready, but there is no refugee crisis in Northern Iraq."

Now, I don't say that that will be that way forever, but as we sit here this evening or as Turkish people see this tomorrow, there is no refugee crisis; so why would Turkey wish to go into Northern Iraq and perhaps provoke such a thing?

The same thing with terrorism. One of the things that we have said that we are going into Iraq to end Iraq's connection to weapons of mass destruction and end Iraq's connections to terrorism.

And so thousands of American troops are moving into Northern Iraq now, and we are arguing to our Turkish friends, and I hope that they will listen, that this should be, for us, part of our objective. The best thing the Turkish forces can do is to be ready, to stay on the Turkish side of the line, to keep their information and intelligence flowing. But it's United States forces that are now engaged in Northern Iraq, because we have work to do there on behalf of the international community, and I would say on behalf of Turkey.

So I think that the way you put the question, I would, with respect, answer it in exactly the reverse. We ask Turkish forces to stay where they are to not provoke precisely what is the thing that makes Turks so anxious.

QUESTION: But as the battle unfolds, and there might be some humanitarian catastrophes ?? maybe they will use chemical weapons ?? and, you know, having Turkey over there, Turkish troops over there, don't you think it might help, because, you know, they know the area and they are very familiar, and also, will it be easy for the Turkish side to bring in the humanitarian aide?

Now you have this new command established in the northern front, and the commander ?? I think it's Major General ??

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: (Inaudible)

QUESTION: ?? (inaudible) yeah, he said that they will take over all the offers or things the Turkish military was planning to do, that they will take over.

Will there be any representation in that command, as far as the Turks are concerned?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Let me answer your question in a couple of ways.

First, I think we have to be careful about this phrase, "humanitarian catastrophe." I've heard this phrase all day today, a humanitarian catastrophe. There is no humanitarian catastrophe in ??

QUESTION: Not yet, but ??

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: But as we sit here and talk today, that is what we are doing. I can't predict the future.

There is no humanitarian catastrophe in the north. There is no humanitarian catastrophe in the south. There's no humanitarian catastrophe in the west.

And so all of the planning and the effort that you and I talked about the last time you were nice enough to have me on your show, I think has started to really play out.

What we are saying to our Turkish friends is, "Let us work together on this problem. You need to be ready, because no one can predict the future, but it is American forces that are now in Northern Iraq, working with people in Northern Iraq to achieve the world community's objectives, which is to change that regime, get rid of the weapons of mass destruction, and get rid of the connection to terrorism."

Now, one other point that you asked is, would there be a connection with Turkey to all of this?

Yes, absolutely. One of the reasons that President Bush sent to Turkey Zal Khalilzad, his special representative, was to try to create a coordination cell in Silopi so that Turkish people, Kurds, and Americans can make sure that we all have the same information and that we all are following the same policy.

QUESTION: I would like to continue, but they are just warning us ??

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Okay.

QUESTION: ?? that our time is over. I thank you very much, but just one last question, maybe ??

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Please.

QUESTION: ?? in one word you will say ?? shall we say that the northern option has definitely been closed?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: That's up to Turkey. The Turkish Parliament voted on the 1st of March. It made its decision. What we sought after that was overflight rights. Those overflight rights have been granted.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you so much ??

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: And thank you.

QUESTION: ?? for sparing your time with us.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: My pleasure. [End]

Released on March 31, 2003


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