Secretary Clinton's Meetings with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu and Kosovar President Jahjaga and Prime Minister Thaci
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Thank you for waiting, everyone. We are delighted this afternoon to have [Senior State Department Official One], who will hereafter be referred to as Senior State Department Official Number One, to read out Secretary Clinton’s meeting today with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu and Kosovar President Jahjaga.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thanks, [Senior State Department Official Two]. The Secretary had a long bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, which lasted almost an hour. As always with Turkey, there’s a very long list of issues to address. She started by raising the Global Counterterrorism Forum, which is going to meet later this week and is something that she will chair together with Foreign Minister Davutoglu.
But the point was, the meeting itself underscores our joint cooperation on terrorism and the Secretary was very clear on the issue of the PKK and the rise we’ve seen recently on PKK attacks, and she expressed our solidarity with Turkey on that issue, the United States cooperates with Turkey extensively in counterterrorism and specifically on the challenges of the PKK and she underscored that the PKK is a terrorist threat not just to Turkey but to the United States as well.
They talked about the Turkey-Israel relationship, which is, as you know, something that we have been following very closely and encouraging the sides to repair their relationship. The Secretary, as you recall, expressed regret that they weren’t able, in recent days and weeks, to overcome their differences but she encouraged Turkey to keep the door open. These are both two close friends and allies of the United States and we want to see them repair their relationship so she encouraged them to avoid any steps that would close that door; on the contrary, to actively seek ways that they can repair that important relationship with Israel.
They talked about Cyprus and the Secretary reiterated our commitment to the Cyprus settlement, to the current UN talks – direct talks that are underway under UN auspices. There are issues as you know regarding energy development, gas exploration. The United States supports Cyprus’s right to explore for energy, it doesn’t believe that should undermine or interfere with the talks and agrees with all of those who believe that the best way to sort out the question of energy and economic development is through a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
They also talked about missile defense. The Secretary thanked the foreign minister for Turkey’s good cooperation with the United States on the European missile defense issue and the agreement, which, as you know, was signed last week to put a radar in Turkey. I think that’s a strong sign of Turkey’s continued commitment to European defense and to the NATO alliance.
They also addressed – and I won’t go into enormous detail on these other topics. I’ll still be happy to take questions. But as I said, when the Secretary meets with the foreign minister of Turkey, there’s always a very long agenda, and so I can tell you they also discussed the Palestinian issue, obviously, looming large here at the UN. Egypt, and our common interest in seeing a success of the Arab Spring and what both countries can do together to help support those in Egypt and elsewhere in North Africa who are fighting for democracy. They discussed Syria.
They talked about Libya and the Secretary expressed appreciation for the role that Turkey has played alongside the United States and others in the process there. They talked about Afghanistan where, as two NATO allies, two countries that are working closely together, on the path forward. The Secretary raised Armenia and the United States’ continued interest in seeing normalization of the relationship between Turkey and Armenia, and they talked about Somalia. I’m probably forgetting some issues but I think that gives you a sense of the enormous breadth of the issues that the United States and Turkey are discussing.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I would just add that on Somalia, the issue was very much concern about the negative role al-Shabaab is playing in blocking international food assistance, and working with Turkey to strengthen the international community pressure on al-Shabaab.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Why don’t I say a word about (inaudible) then we can come back to whatever you all like. She then had a meeting, as [Senior State Department Official Two] said, with President Jahjaga and Prime Minister Thaci of Kosovo. The Secretary reiterated the United States’ strong and continued support for Kosovo sovereignty and territorial integrity. She congratulated the president and the prime minister on the – on a continued increase in number of countries that recognize Kosovo, which is now up to 82, a process that the United States actively supports. I think that’s more than 10 recognitions beyond the number that was the case when the Secretary visited Kosovo and saw the prime minister there and committed to continuing to work to support that process.
They addressed the current situation in Kosovo, where the United States, as you know, is supporting the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. We want to see both of those countries continue down the path to Euro-Atlantic integration. We want to see their relations develop. We support the recent set of agreements in that EU-facilitated dialogue that cover a number of areas but, most importantly and most recently, provide for bilateral trade between the two countries with EULEX, the European rule of law mission, playing a significant role in the customs function. We believe that would be in the overwhelming interests of both countries. It is not meant to be a political issue or a status issue. It is meant to provide for greater well-being and rule of law in all of Kosovo. And so we are disappointed that the agreement hasn’t been fully implemented yet, but we support it. We think it should be implemented moving forward.
And then finally, the Secretary expressed the United States’ support for continued political and economic reform in Kosovo. Ultimately, that country’s well-being will depend on how it develops its democracy and its economy. And that will help facilitate what I said we all want to see, which is a Kosovo not just recognized and secure, but moving firmly down the path towards European integration.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Good. Let’s take questions.
QUESTION: How long does the meeting last at the consulate officially?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: About 40 minutes.
QUESTION: Can we maybe stick to Turkey first, and then get to Kosovo? Beyond exhorting Davutoglu to keep the door open to an improving relationship with Israel, did she make any concrete suggestions? Did she, for example, suggest that Turkey might want to drop its demand for an apology and except an expression of regret? Did that issue come up in any detail?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No. It’s not really for us to structure a detailed path forward in the way Turkey and Israel are going to relate to each other. We’ve said that all along. We’re friends with both. We want to be helpful if we can. But ultimately, they need to talk to each other and they need to determine the basis on which they’re going to move forward. That’s how it’s been from the start. They do talk to each other. We want to see that continued. And it’s not for us to write the plan.
QUESTION: But surely, if it seems they’re being unreasonable, we would say could you water down you expectations or – I understand you’re not going to tell them what to do, but if they’re – if you think they’re being unreasonable – perhaps you don’t, but if you think they’re being unreasonable, you would try to counsel them.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: As I said, this is something they have to sort out between the two. We’re not parsing different aspects of different plans for how they would move forward.
QUESTION: You also expressed it in the negative. You said they should avoid any action that would close the door. What types of actions were you referring to?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Any – I mean, you could think of a lot of --
QUESTION: Were any specific ones mentioned, then, at this meeting?
QUESTION: Were you thinking about the Turks’ potentially escorting humanitarian aid vessels to Gaza?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I was just making a general statement, which is, as the Secretary made, that anything that could raise tensions or close the door to future cooperation wouldn’t be a good thing. I think that was – that’s pretty clear.
QUESTION: Does that fall into that category, from your point of view?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: As I said, she made a general statement, I think --
QUESTION: On that point, former ambassador to Turkey, Abramowitz, wrote an article yesterday in The Washington Post calling on the United States to make very clear that in any confrontation or likely confrontation between Israel and Turkey, that the United States would make very clear to Turkey that they would side with Israel. Was that point raised by the Turkish counterparts?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I actually don’t recall that specific recommendation in the piece. But as I said, both of these countries are longstanding and close friends and partners of the United States. And it’s not a question of taking sides; it’s a question of believing that we would benefit and they would benefit if they can repair the unfortunate breach in their relationship. And they’ve been close to repairing that breach. I think there are a lot of people on both sides who believe that the Middle East and the region is a better and safer and more secure and more prosperous place if they can do that. And that’s why we have an interest in supporting that.
QUESTION: What were some of the ideas that they explored?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The Secretary made clear that this is not a time when we need more tension and more volatility in the region.
QUESTION: When is the time for that? (Laughter.)
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Back. In the back.
QUESTION: Is there anything new on the (inaudible) incident in Eastern Mediterranean? (Inaudible) Turkish foreign minister?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, I think that’s the general question that we’re discussing. That was the origin of the breach in what was once a very strong relationship. And it has been – that was in – it’s already some 15, 16 months ago. And that has provided the context for this whole discussion of how they repair their relationship.
QUESTION: Anything new here at this today is she suggested to solve the problem between these two countries? And this very tense is the Eastern Mediterranean --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I think he’s already answered that question. Thanks.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton described the meeting between Davutoglu as an excellent meeting. Does that mean that some of the conference issues they talked about were pretty much – were they both of them on the same level, meaning Israel-Palestinian issues?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t think an excellent meeting is necessarily translated by they agreed a hundred percent on every single issue they discussed. It was an excellent meeting in the way her meetings with the foreign minister are always excellent, which is they’re frank with each other, they’re honest with each other, they both are clearly committed to this relationship, as I think was clear from the – simply the agenda that I spelled out. This is a relationship that really does address a very, very wide range of regional and global matters that both countries are interested in. So this was one more chapter in what is a regular and strong and important dialogue between Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Davutoglu.
QUESTION: Turkey obviously supports the Palestinian statehood bid, but, I mean, what is the Secretary looking for from Turkey in that? Is there a way that they can help ease the showdown? Is there a way – I mean, what message did she have to countries like that? And how often does that issue come up? I mean, I don’t – I mean, she had been in other meetings (inaudible) does she – what is she asking those countries in general on that issue?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, in this one – and I think as I read it out, you can see that this wasn’t a meeting on the Palestinian issue. That wasn’t the dominant subject. There was a lot of other business with Turkey that had to be done. There was some time discussing Palestine, and she articulated the view of the subject that I think you’re very familiar with – the commitment, the belief that the process needs to be based on negotiations between the two sides, that the United States doesn’t support and would block a Security Council resolution. But it was a short portion of the meeting. There wasn’t a specific request of Turkey on that, but she had a chance to explain where the United States is coming from and why.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Let’s do one more on Turkey and then go to a couple of (inaudible).
QUESTION: Well, hold on. You’ll have – but surely, you do think the Turks could play some role, right? I mean, even if they don’t have a vote in the Security Council.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, that, I think, was the point of articulating U.S. thinking about it. And given that the Turkish foreign minister’s – does have a role and Turkey has a strong and important voice, it was important for him to hear the way we’re thinking about the issue. And sure, there’s, of course, a hope that he would share that with others. He’s discussing it.
QUESTION: So did they – did she outline this whole idea of the Quartet statement and this is how you would like to avert this crisis and say it would be helpful if Turkey would support it, or did it not get that specific? She just said, “We’re trying to resolve this and your help would be appreciated?”
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I won’t get into details or specifics. She articulated the way the United States is approaching the issue, and I think you’re – she has had a chance with you all to explain what that is.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Nicole, are you following up on this one or -- okay, (inaudible).
QUESTION: Could you just tell us a little bit about what Minister Davutoglu said to the Secretary about the Palestinians? I know she probably presented her view of (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think I’ll leave that to them to articulate their own position. I don’t want to characterize it for them.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: One over here, and then we’re going to take Kosovo questions (inaudible).
QUESTION: Just on Syria, please. Any details about – did the Turks say anything about the opposition forming or the meetings they’re having in Istanbul? Any thoughts going forward on how they’re going to work together on Syria?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: At this meeting, there wasn’t time for a very extensive discussion of Syria, so they didn’t have time to get into specifics on the opposition.
QUESTION: Sorry, just as a – so would you say that the main focus of the meeting was about the Israel-Turkey relationship? Would that be the --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t want to do percentages.
QUESTION: Right. (Laughter.)
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I began with some of the key things; that was PKK and terrorism, cooperation on terrorism, Israel, Cyprus, NATO missile defense. I mean, I said it was a long – hour-long meeting, but --
QUESTION: Real quickly on --
QUESTION: -- thent Syria real quickly. Does that mean that you don’t expect anything this week? I mean, isn’t there talk of – aren’t there all these UN proposals that are on the table for Security Council action on Syria? They didn’t spend much time talking to Turkey about it. Does that mean there’s no sort of aspirations this week to do anything?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I think we’ve had many rich conversations between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Davutoglu on the issue of Syria. I think we’re working very closely together. And this is an opportunity with so many countries here to share views on Syria with those countries that we don’t have an opportunity to talk about those subjects very often, and that will certainly be the case. And I expect it’ll come up also with Foreign Minister Lavrov tonight. But as [Senior State Department Official One] said, we had 20 issues today.
So it wasn’t the number one – Kosovo and then he needs to go.
QUESTION: Sorry, just a quick clarification on the Cyprus exploring for energy. The Secretary expressly made that view clear to Davutoglu?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I would be careful with that view, but she was clear on how the United States sees the situation, yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Anything on Kosovo before [Senior State Department Official One] goes?
QUESTION: Yes. On Kosovo, actually, you mentioned that the United States supports every – almost every single step that is going on in the direction of democratization and reforms in Kosovo, et cetera. If they recognize or exchange in their talks that there is any – this newest situation has any potential to jeopardize the regional stability or so – and particularly in regard to Bosnia, et cetera, because always when something happens in Kosovo, has some sort of (inaudible) in Bosnia, especially with the Bosnia Serbs. So did they tackle anything about the regional – sorry that I didn’t particulate (inaudible) my question because you was also general, so --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. I’m not sure what the specific question is. There was – it was – they didn’t have a big regional --
QUESTION: What is the regional implication that were discussed of the U.S. situation in Kosovo?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: They didn’t have an extensive discussion of all of the regional implications of different things, but suffice it to say that we are conscious of those regional linkages and implications, one of the reasons, among others that we don’t support any talk or thinking of partition for Kosovo, not only because it would be the wrong thing for Kosovo, but when you think through the regional implications of that, you see that it’s a dead end that would be bad for the region. So the regional implications are always present, but this was a discussion, as I said, focused mostly on Kosovo itself and the particular challenge of sorting out the relationship with Serbia so that both of these countries, which we support, can move forward.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Last one, right here.
QUESTION: On Turkey, just a slightly more big picture question about the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey and Israel. I understand the relationship is good, the meeting was excellent, you’re committed to the relationship. But is there a sense that as the tensions grow between Turkey and Israel you’re having to work harder and harder to stay on good terms with the Turks, to keep them involved in things like the counterterror forum, the radar station, that it requires a lot of sort of work on those ties in keeping them involved in very tangible ways in their relationship with the United States?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I wouldn’t put it that way. We’re doing all of those things out of our interests, and we’ll continue to do them. Obviously, tensions between Turkey and Israel don’t help in a general sense, but I wouldn’t link it in that specific way.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Good. Thanks, everybody.