Remarks With Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 28, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m very pleased to welcome Mevlut Cavusoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey, here to Washington as he leads the preparations for the nuclear summit and President Erdogan’s arrival, but also so that we can follow up on some very, very important issues that we’ve been working on and which were the subject of a recent visit by the deputy secretary to Turkey just a few days ago.

But let me begin – let me begin my comments by expressing the condolences of the United States to the people of Turkey for the extraordinary losses that Turkey has suffered over these last months by a number of different attacks. We all have been focused on what happened in Brussels, but as I mentioned yesterday, right after Brussels a bomb went off in Baghdad, killing a bunch of children who were at a soccer celebration. And just at the moment those kids were going to get their trophies, a bomb goes off, killing many people. Same thing in Turkey. Turkey has had bombs go off in Ankara, in other communities, in Istanbul. And so it underscores to everybody the price that is being paid at the hand of terrorists and it underscores how we are all in this together. We all have an interest in taking out Daesh, Nusrah, terrorist organizations as fast as possible and restoring stability to the region and to individual countries.

Turkey is an important partner with the United States in this effort. It is a NATO ally. It has joined together with Europe and NATO now in an effort to try to stem the tide of migrants flowing through the Aegean. And Turkey is host to 2.7 million refugees who have flown out of Syria and the surrounding area seeking a better life. That’s an enormous cost and we respect the fact that Turkey is trying to manage the lives of these refugees. We’ve committed today an additional $20 million specifically to our ongoing more than 5 billion that the American people have contributed to the effort to deal with this refugee crisis. And we will continue to work, and we’re about to talk about the plans we have to work together to put greater pressure on Daesh and to be able to end this scourge as fast as possible.

We also have a lot of other interests with Turkey that we’re working on. Turkey is a member of the International Syria Support Group and is working with us to try to seek a political solution to the problem of Syria. In addition, we have economic interests, trade interests, interests with respect to Europe itself. And so I look forward to a very constructive afternoon of some serious topics that we have to discuss.


FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU: Thank you, John. First of all, thank you very much for the words of condolences and for your solidarity and United States’ solidarity with Turkey. It is true that terrorists have been hitting many cities not only in our region, not only in Turkey and Brussels, but also in Africa, in Pakistan, and in other part of the world. And we have the full determination to defeat the terrorist groups in our neighborhood and in all over the world.

I was here exactly – or almost a year ago, and I thank my dear friend John for his tireless efforts to reach a political understanding regarding the nuclear deal with Iran. Since then, it has been fruitful talks and the deal has been reached. And we fully support this process.

And today I would like to thank John, as the co-chair of the International Syrian Support Group, for his contributions and the efforts to enhance cessation of the hostilities in Syria and to access the humanitarian aid, as well as to resume the talks in Geneva. Hopefully, the next round of the talks will be focusing on the political transformation.

Today we will, of course, discuss the bilateral issues, as John mentioned. Besides that, we will, of course, discuss how we can increase our efforts against Daesh, al-Nusrah, and PKK. And we need to defeat those terrorist organizations which have been posing threat not only Turkey or Europe but to whole world. And we need to discuss the situation in Iraq as well. They also need our support. Daesh is occupying still almost 30 percent of the territory of another neighbor of Turkey.

And we will be, of course, discussing migration issue as well. Turkey has been doing its best to host so many migrants – almost 3 million migrants in Turkey. We have spent more than $10 billion. We made a deal with European Union to strengthen our cooperation. Hopefully, we will be implementing that deal soon.

But we have also some good news from the eastern part of Mediterranean – I mean Cyprus. We are hoping to reach a settlement in Cyprus in 2016. Turkish side is ready. Due to the elections in south it has been slightly slowed down, but after the elections we are hoping to reach a settlement. And United States is giving its full support to this process as well as Turkey.

So I’m very happy to be here today to meet my dear friend John. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just mention, I couldn’t agree more. We are very deeply committed to and involved in the talks on Cyprus. I’ve been to Cyprus personally, Vice President Biden has been. We have met with the folks on both sides as well as individual countries, and we’re going to keep pushing very, very hard towards a resolution in the Cyprus crisis; gone on for too long.

Thank you all.