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Rice Interview With Turkeys Kanal-D TV

Interview With Metehan Demir of Turkey's Kanal-D TV


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Ankara, Turkey
February 6, 2005

QUESTION: Welcome to Turkey again.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

QUESTION: What do you think about the recent Kurdish statements about breaking away from Iraq as an independent state? Can you declare clearly that the US will not tolerate any division of Iraq and will not allow any unilateral changes by the Kurds in the status of Kirkuk? And do you believe that Turkey might intervene in Kirkuk if such a decision is taken by the Kurds?

SECRETARY RICE: The United States has been absolutely clear that we are committed to a united Iraq. That we are committed to an Iraq in which all parties and all groups - whether Turkmen or Kurds or Shiites or Sunnis - are all welcome, And other minorities too, all welcomed, all represented, all respected within a unified Iraq. The United States believes strongly in the territorial integrity of Iraq, and we'll work with the parties to make certain that is the outcome.

We also believe that Kirkuk needs to be a city in which all Iraqis are welcome. And we know its history. We know that Saddam Hussein, through his dictatorship and his methods, contributed to tensions about Kirkuk. But it is a city that really must represent all Iraqis.

QUESTION: It shouldn't have a special status?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's going to be up to the Iraqis to decide in their democratic state how Kirkuk is administered. But it really must be a place where all Iraqis are welcome and respected.

QUESTION: Turkey has been very critical of Washington that the US is not keeping its earlier promises in fighting the PKK, which is already officially declared as terrorist by Washington. Do you plan to take a concrete step against the PKK presence in northern Iraq or is there any policy change by the US on the issue?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the very fact that the PKK is declared as a terrorist organization in the United States means that there are certain things that the United States is obligated to do. For instance, we are obligated to do what we can to deal with their financing so that they don't receive moneys in any way that the United States can stop it from happening.

We of course understand and are thoroughly committed to the fact that terrorism should not come from the territory of northern Iraq. And we are in a trilateral arrangement, mechanism, with the Iraqis and with Turkey to deal with the threat of the PKK. We will do everything that we can. The security situation is difficult still in the country, and there are at this point some limits on what we can do. But it is not because of a lack of commitment to dealing with the PKK, and we will do so because they are a terrorist organization and ought to be dealt with as a terrorist organization.

QUESTION: Iran seems to be the number one issue on President's Bush agenda in his second term especially. How do you see neighboring Turkey's role in connection with developments in Iran?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Iran will be one of many issues for the President's agenda and since the President's agenda deals with a broader Middle East and reform in the Middle East, part of the problem is that Iran is out of step with that effort at reform in the Middle East.

Turkey, on the other hand, is one of America's strongest partners in the broader Middle East reform, a functioning democracy, Islamic people here who are faithful and devout, but devoted to democracy. That is the hope for the Middle East more broadly. So Turkey has a very important role to play in helping to create, helping to support those in the Middle East who want a different kind of Middle East. In terms of Iran, we all have to be very firm with Iran that its support for terrorism is unacceptable, that its efforts to build a nuclear weapon under cover of civilian nuclear power is unacceptable. I think Turkey will be a strong ally in that.

QUESTION: In an interview with Larry King, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld said recently that Turkey's decision last year that did not allow the transfer of American Fourth Infantry Division from Turkey to Iraq was one source of problems today because, he said, he says, exceptional number of Sunnis were captured or killed. That's why he says this is still fomenting the insurgency in Iraq. Does the U.S. still have the negative impacts of last year's Turkey's decision?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it was certainly a disappointing decision given our long alliance and the need to transport American forces, and I think we made no secret of that. I think whatever the relationship was to what happened subsequently is really speculative but we are moving on in our relationship. If we were not moving on, it would not be the case that the United States has been so strongly supportive of Turkish accession to the European Union or the support for the Turkish economic reforms and its IMF program. We are moving on. We've got a lot of work to do together and that's what I am here to talk about.

QUESTION: Maybe this could be a follow-up question. Both Turkey and the US describe the relationship as a strategic partnership. What Dr. Rice in your view makes this a strategic partnership?

SECRETARY RICE: What makes it a strategic partnership, first of all, is a long history of having a relationship that is devoted to a more secure, stable balance in the world. Turkey was an important fighter, an important ally in the Cold War as we overcame the division of Europe and brought down imperial communism. Turkey is of course a member of NATO, the most important and most successful strategic alliance. And it was NATO's job in the past to prevent the spread of Soviet power, to give cover to democratization in Europe. NATO is now involved in trying to spread stability and democracy to others parts of the world. So Turkey has been in control of the ISAF in Afghanistan, for instance, turning Afghanistan - a place that was the primary territorial source of Al-Qaeda terrorism - into a state that will be peaceful and fighting terror. That's really what it means to be a strategic ally. It means cooperating around the world to make the world more stable, to fight terrorism, and indeed to spread liberty and democracy.

QUESTION: How do you see Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's critical remarks on the United States regarding the ongoing operations in Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've had a discussion of Iraq, and I think that the Iraqi people and their election last Sunday gives us an opportunity now to look ahead to how we are all going to support a democratic Iraq, an Iraq that is unified and an Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors.

And for all of us, we need to say to our publics, as I'm having an opportunity, thanks to you, to say today, this is a fundamentally strong and important relationship. It is critical to the security and the future of both the United States and Turkey. We have to speak up for the importance of this relationship. Friends will sometimes disagree, but when we disagree, we have to do so from a basis that still understands the vital importance of this relationship, that it allows us to do things like support each other in places like Afghanistan, to support Turkish accession to the European Union, to support Turkish economic reform through the IMF. That's what friends do. And so even when we have our disagreements, we need to be very clear that this relationship is very much worth it.

QUESTION: Does the Pentagon foresee, or does the United States administration foresee, more of a role for Incirlik airbase, because there has been a lot of speculation. Maybe from your position it would be very useful to clarify what is the US idea on Incirlik airbase?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all since Incirlik is a Turkish airbase, anything that we do we would, of course, have to do with Turkey. We will have discussions, broad discussions about how the changed circumstances change our needs. But some of the things that I have seen about major basing of American aircraft and so forth, I think that is really not on the table.

QUESTION: Do you think that further steps should be taken to reward the Turks in Cyprus who said to yes last year to the referendum in the name of a solution on the island while the Greek Cypriots said no to this referendum. Many promised, many heavyweights in the world promised -- including the US and the EU -- to take better steps to make Turks' position better, but nothing is specifically done so far. Do you have more plans for the Turkish Cypriots?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are looking at what we can do to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots because we, like everyone else, were disappointed that the Annan plan was not adopted. We have taken some steps, direct aid for instance to the Turkish Cypriots, but there are probably other things that we should look at doing. We should get back to trying to find a way to unify the island.

QUESTION: One short question and the last one. What should be done for solving the dispute between Turkey and Armenia? Does the U.S. plan any special initiative this year to solve this problem?

SECRETARY STATE: Well, we would certainly hope that Turkey and Armenia would find a way to bridge the differences. We know the very difficult history here. And we recognize the difficult history. But we are a long time now into the future. And on the basis of democratic development and the economic development and the need for stability, we would hope and encourage the parties to find ways to bridge their differences.

QUESTION: How long will it take for Turkey to become a full member of the European Union? In your opinion.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, unfortunately we are not members of the European Union So we can't say. We've been supporters of Turkey's accession and of that happening as quickly as possible. Obviously, there are standards that Turkey needs to meet. And the European Union is well within its rights to say that there are certain things that need to be done in order to bring about Turkey's accession. But I think we've been a supportive as anyone for that accession to take place. And given that we are not a member, it really is up to Turkey and the European Union to find a way for it -- with Turkey doing what it needs to do and with Europe being welcoming of a Turkey that really does have a rightful place in the world.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, thank you very much for being with us. It was a nice opportunity. Many thanks and enjoy your trip.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

2005/129

Released on February 6, 2005


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