Remarks With Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
June 5, 2009

Date: 06/05/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. © State Dept Photo by Michael Gross SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. Minister Davutoglu and I just had a very productive, broad-ranging, comprehensive discussion. And it is a great privilege to welcome him here to the State Department within the very first weeks of his having been appointed foreign minister. Of course, I was very honored to have gone to Turkey very early in my term as Secretary of State, and President Obama had a wonderful visit to Turkey.

And all of that is to confirm the strength and importance of o ur partnership and alliance. We have a lot of work to do together. Turkey, the United States, and the entire global community certainly face a great number of challenges, but we also see opportunities. So our message coming out of the meeting today and our prior meetings is that we’re going to deepen and strengthen our cooperation on an ongoing basis, because we believe that both Turkey and the United States have unique roles to play.

Now, we obviously already collaborate. Not only are we both members of NATO, but we are working with the G-20 to respond to the global economic crisis, we’re exploring ways to enhance our trade and commerce between our two countries, we’re working to develop new energy sources, including resources from the Caucasus and Central Asia. We’re partners in the fight against global terrorism. We share the goal of a stable Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to deny al-Qaida safe haven that can threaten our countries and many others. We support Turkey in its fight against the terrorist activities of the PKK, which has been a very important cooperation.

And I underscored again today the United States’ strong support for Turkey’s bid to become a member of the European Union. Turkey has made significant progress toward membership. It’s been in a process of reform that is generated by its own internal decisions but which has certainly responded to many of the concerns regarding the strength of the bid that Turkey had. And so we applaud what Turkey has already done and pledge our efforts to continue working with Turkey.

And so we ranged across a broad number of issues, and I want to just make a special note. As President Obama said yesterday in Cairo, the United States is committed to broad engagement with Muslims everywhere across the globe based on mutual interests and mutual respect. We believe strongly in the freedom of religion and expression, in vibrant civil societies, and we know that those are values that Turkey shares.

And I want to thank the minister and his government for the role that Turkey plays as a force for peace and stability. This is important, and it’s already been demonstrated in the work that Turkey has done for a number of years and continues with respect to comprehensive peace in the Middle East. And we are strongly supportive of the Turkish efforts to normalize relations with Armenia, and we are also very strongly supportive of the efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

We discussed Cyprus, which is an issue that the President also addressed when he was in Turkey in April. The two Cypriot leaders have an opportunity through their commitment to negotiations under the United Nations Good Offices Missions, and the United States is willing to help the parties. We want to work toward a settlement that reunifies Cyprus into a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation.

We discussed many, many concerns, and I’m just grateful for the commitment by the minister and by his government to play an active role in our dynamic world. Our relationship is not just about security; it is about seizing these opportunities, and I look forward to working with you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. It’s a great honor and pleasure for me to meet with Secretary Clinton today in a very historic time after the speech of President Obama yesterday and the new commitment of United States for regional and global peace everywhere. We know of her wisdom, her approach, and we always appreciate and admire her approach to all the issues regarding to our bilateral, regional, and global issues.

Basically, the purpose of my visit was to follow up her historic visit to Turkey immediately after the new Administration in March and President Obama’s historic visit in April. So these historic visits showed the strength of our bilateral relations. So I came here in my first month of my duty in this – as minister to follow up all the contents, all the issues regarding our relations. We had a very constructive meeting. I am grateful for that. And we went through all the issues regarding the depth and scope of our agenda. We decided to have a much more broader comprehensive approach in our bilateral relations, not only security issues but economy, energy security, cultural issues. Also on the main regional issues like Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Caucasia, (inaudible) and all the relevant issues we have as common agenda we went through. And I am very happy to see that we have very identical, similar approaches to many of these issues.

On global affairs also, we agreed together that our cooperation should not be limited only by regional efforts, but there is a big potential between Turkey and the United States to work together on global issues like relations between civilizations, Alliance of Civilizations, like G-20 and economic – the situation after economic crisis, like our cooperation in United Nations Security Council. As you know, Turkey took over the presidency a few days ago. And I was in New York yesterday for the first formal meeting of UN Security Council.

As Turkey – as minister of foreign affairs of Turkey, and as the Government of Turkey, we are ready to cooperate with the United States in all these significant issues for achieving regional and global peace. That is our contribution to the (inaudible). Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very well said, Minister.

MR. WOOD: The first question will be from Jill Dougherty of CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, what is the U.S. doing to free the journalists being held in North Korea? And how open are you to using a special negotiator/envoy, perhaps former Vice President Gore?

And also, if I could, just one very quick question. Any update on the situation of the Goldman boy in Brazil?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, the concern that we feel for these two young women who are in prison in North Korea has been driving our efforts. We want to strike the right balance between expressing our deep concerns, our belief that these two young women should be released immediately. The trial which is going on right now we consider to be a step toward the release and the return home of these two young women.

I personally have spoken with a number of foreign officials who have influence through various channels with the North Koreans. The State Department has had direct contact with the North Koreans through the channel by which we communicate. The Swedish ambassador has been extremely helpful. He has actually met with the two young women on three occasions. He’s helped to facilitate the delivery of materials and the passing of messages. So we are incredibly concerned on both a diplomatic and, on my behalf, a personal basis. I have met with their families, and I share the grave anxiety that they feel about the safety and security of these two young women.

We call again on the North Korean Government to release them and enable them to come home as soon as possible. We have explored other approaches, including the use of special representatives strictly for this humanitarian mission. But as things stand now, we know that they’re in the middle of a trial in Pyongyang, and we hope that the trial is resolved quickly and that the young women are released.

With respect to Sean Goldman, we were very pleased when the Brazilian courts reached the conclusion they reached earlier this week. And we were very disappointed when a hold was placed on the release of this young boy and his return with his father to the United States. We will continue to support Mr. Goldman in his efforts to speak out on behalf of the family relations that is at the core of this legal case, and to urge the Brazilian Government and judiciary to release Sean and enable him to return to his father now that the legal decision has been rendered.

QUESTION: This is Umit Enginsoy with Turkish NTV television. Madame Secretary, since the release in April of Turkish, Armenian, and Swiss statements about joint intention for normalization of ties, have you observed any progress toward that end, and also toward resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem? And are you hopeful that these could be resolved in the not-too-distant future? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have been very encouraged by the progress that has been made and by the commitment of the governments involved. Certainly, Turkey and Armenia, with the assistance of the Swiss Government, have committed themselves to a process of normalization. We’re well aware that this is difficult. It requires patience and perseverance. But we have seen no flagging of commitment.

The minister and I discussed this at length. He brought me up to date on developments. And we are continuing to encourage the parties to proceed on the path which they themselves have set. We are supportive, but it is up to the Turkish and Armenian governments and people to realize the great opportunity this poses. The normalization of relations not only continues what I have seen from the Turkish Government, which is a desire to actually solve problems, and I applaud that, but we think it will bring great benefits to the region.

Similarly, with the ongoing negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh, the Government of Azerbaijan and of Armenia are proceeding and working together. They were just in a recent meeting in St. Petersburg. So we believe that a lot of progress has been made in a relatively short period of time to resolve issues that are of long standing.

What’s important is the commitment to get to a point of resolution of these conflicts, and I see that commitment. Now are there problems along the way? Of course. There is in any difficult undertaking. But I do not doubt the commitment, and I certainly appreciate the very strong position that the Turkish Government has taken. And perhaps, Minister, you would like to add to that?

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: I would like to express also my thanks to Secretary Clinton because of her personal and American Government’s support for these two processes. We are very optimistic. We want to achieve a prosperous, peaceful Caucasia. And in that sense, we are fully committed to our normalization process with Armenia, and also, we are fully committed and we are ready to work together with United States and other co-chairs of Minsk Group for the resolution of Armenian-Azeri issues.

And I was very impressed and I want to repeat my thanks for the commitment of Madame Secretary Clinton in this sense, and we will be working together. There is a strong will politically by Turkish side to continue all the efforts to achieve our common goal of creating a prosperous, peaceful Caucasia together.

MR. WOOD: Next question will be from Arshad Mohammed of Reuters.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, how seriously is the United States considering imposing either multilateral or unilateral financial sanctions on North Korea and its banks? And what makes you confident that such a step wouldn’t be counterproductive? When the sanctions were imposed on BDA, it essentially froze the process for months on end until the United States effectively removed them and returned the money.

And a small – well, a separate thing, maybe not small. Dov Weissglas, the former Israeli chief of staff to former Prime Minister Sharon, argues publicly this week that Israel had understandings with the Bush Administration, under which it was permitted to continue so-called natural growth under the Roadmap, that it could continue building within the construction line. Do you believe that there were such understandings or agreements between Israel and the Bush Administration? Do you feel bound by them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, let me start with North Korea. As you know, the United States is working very hard in the Security Council, now chaired by Turkey, to come up with a resolution that would represent the will of the international community with respect to North Korea’s actions that are viewed with considerable concern on the part of not just the United States or South Korea or Japan, but also China, Russia, and many other countries internationally.

We’ve made considerable progress in devising the kinds of actions that would represent consequences imposed upon the North Koreans by the international community. I have personally spoken with a number of the foreign ministers, our ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and her team are involved on a hour-by-hour basis, because we want to come up with the strongest possible resolution.

And I think we’ve learned a lesson. One of the lessons we’ve learned is that with the North Koreans, it’s never over till it’s over, that if there are effective sanctions that we believe can be imposed, an arms embargo and other steps to be taken, we need to see real results. We, along with other neighbors in Northeast Asia as well as the international community, stand ready to resume negotiations with the North Koreans over their nuclear program. Our goal remains to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. So I am quite heartened by the progress that we’re seeing in the United Nation Security Council. And when we believe we’ve gotten the strongest possible resolution we can get, we will table it and then proceed.

With respect to the conditions regarding understandings between the United States and the former Israeli government and the former government of the United States, we have the negotiating record. That is the official record that was turned over to the Obama Administration by the outgoing Bush Administration. There is no memorialization of any informal and oral agreements. If they did occur, which, of course, people say they did, they did not become part of the official position of the United States Government. And there are contrary documents that suggest that they were not to be viewed as in any way contradicting the obligations that Israel undertook pursuant to the Roadmap. And those obligations are very clear.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Davutoglu, how do you evaluate President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo? And Secretary Clinton, after President Obama’s visit to Turkey, what is the state of Turkish-American relations?

FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you very much. President Obama’s speech yesterday in Cairo is a speech of wisdom, a speech of vision, and a speech of peace. And we share the insight with Secretary Clinton as well. We share this vision and we are ready to cooperate. I am sure you remember President Obama’s visit and his speech in Turkish parliament. And when you look at the substance of two speeches, you can see an integrated approach, the continuation and follow-up of many issues that are very important principles for regional issues as well as global order in general. And it is a good message, clear message to the Muslim world that the future relations between the United States and the Muslim world, as well as between different cultures will be bright, based on a mutual understanding of coexistence, living together, sharing all human values in all fronts. And therefore, we share that vision and we will continue to work to realize this vision as a program and project together.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I appreciate the minister’s perceptive remarks about President Obama’s speech yesterday. Clearly, the President is laying out a vision, and it is a vision that invites all people of good faith to come together, to work together, to recognize that we may have differences of experience, differences of background, of religion and race, but that we are all part of common humanity. And we have an opportunity in the 21st century to work toward realizing that vision. And I applaud the Turkish Government for taking a practical, hands-on approach to solving problems, to clear away the obstacles that prevent people from living up to their own God-given potential, of countries breaking the bounds of the past so that they can have a better future.

And I think the relationship between Turkey and the United States is extremely strong. We have a durable bond that goes back many decades, but we’re exploring new ways of expanding and deepening that strong relationship. And that was the purpose of our meeting today is to begin to look at how we can take our shared vision of what Turkey and the United States can do to further humanity’s quest for peace and prosperity and progress, recognizing and respecting our legitimate differences of culture and religion, but making it clear that we’re going to share this increasingly interdependent world. And we can either have positive or negative interdependence. And Turkey and the United States believe in a positive future.

So I could not be happier and more optimistic about the relationships and what we together can do for the future.

Thank you all very much.


PRN: 2009/555