MATTHEW BRYZA W/TURKISH REPORTERS
Feb 7 2007
Mr. Bryza: The Foreign Minister’s visit comes in the midst of, and sort
of is at the highest level of a whole series of high level interactions
we’re having with Turkey now, and we have been. Look back to the
shared vision statement that was agreed when the Foreign Minister
was here back in June, I guess it was. In that document basically
we highlighted two sets of tasks. One set of tasks was to focus on
specific subjects and we can go through those in a little while. The
other set of tasks is to make sure we have a process underway to have
our various pieces of our governments following up on those specific
topics. So we do it at the working level and we do it at a very high
level as well. So the Foreign Minister’s visit here is pretty much,
besides a Prime Ministerial visit, the highest articulation of that
implementation of the shared vision statement.
But we had Undersecretary Burns just in Turkey, as you know, week
before last. That was a moment where we did the senior level review
of the whole process, and again we outlined in the shared vision
I guess what I’m trying to say is in terms of the process of
restrengthening US-Turkish relations at the official level, I think
we’re doing a good job in making sure we’ve got the communications
working together, making sure we have the same goals, and then
calibrating the tactics.
I still feel without any question, despite the complications we see
in US-Turkish relations and public opinion, I still feel confident,
we all do in fact feel confident that our official relations are
really strong and are moving in the right direction.
We have a real challenge ahead of us still on PKK, obviously, we
all know that. We know we have to deliver concrete results as I was
telling Kasim just the other day. We have to deliver. It’s not just
the Turkish military leaders or the Turkish political leaders that
are demanding concrete results, it’s the Turkish people that expect
it. The PKK is a serious terrorist threat to one of our most important
allies in the world so we’re obligated. But we’re also obligated to do
something against PKK by our own vision for Iraq and our own global
policy on terrorism. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a terrorist is a
terrorist is a terrorist. We have to eliminate havens for terrorists,
we are committed to doing so, and as our highest political leaders
have told Turkey’s highest political leaders, we will do it.
General Ralston is a remarkable military leader. I have been
surprised by how effectively he is able to work through our own
military bureaucracies, even though he’s retired, because he is
so respected by the career military. He’s one of the highest, most
effective and professional military officers I’ve ever encountered,
both internally, working within our system, and then diplomatically.
So all of that is a long way of saying there should be some concrete
results soon. There need to be, have to be, and I feel we’re actually
building some momentum. And again, as I was saying to Kasim just
the other day, if we don’t produce those results then I’ll have
no credibility with you. But more importantly, neither will our
government, so we’ve got to do it.
So I would presume that the Secretary and the Foreign Minister will
spend some time talking about the PKK, but I hope they’ll go well
beyond that when it comes to Iraq because we have so much more to
talk about on Iraq than just the PKK.
In the last couple of years we worked hard to improve our coordination
between our two governments on the ground in Iraq. We’ve tried to
make sure that our Ambassador and the Turkish Ambassador are having
regular contact, that we’re listening to each other, that the US side
is learning from Turkey’s extensive experience in Iraq over so many
years and decades and even centuries. I think that coordination is
I wasn’t here when (Turkish MFA Iraq Special Envoy) Oguz (Celikkol)
was here, (Defense Minister Vecdi) Gonul was here last week, but
I do try to see him any time I go to Turkey and I have sensed much
better coordination between our missions in Iraq than was the case
in the past.
Beyond Iraq, when it comes to the Middle East we are always
looking for ways, again, to work together with Turkey, to deepen
our understanding of the situation on the ground be it in Iran or
in Syria or in the Palestinian territories and to make sure we’re
moving in the same directions, and I think we are. You’ll probably
have specific questions to ask about that.
In Afghanistan where Turkey, as you know, has twice led ISAF, it’s
helping to run a PRT in Wardak Province, it’s pledged $100 million
for Afghan reconstruction. As we saw from the conference last week
the Secretary helped organize on Afghanistan, we want to make a new
rejuvenated push to provide the security assistance and the economic
assistance Afghanistan needs to rebuild and Turkey is a crucial
partner in that.
Turning to the economic side, we have a rich agenda right now with
Turkey. Just next week I’ll be traveling out with (EB) Assistant
Secretary Dan Sullivan to have our first EPC, Economic Partnership
Commission meeting in I guess two years. That’s way too long since
we’ve been able to pull that meeting together. It might be three years
even. I won’t go into all the items on that agenda, we can talk about
it if you wish to.
I just want to highlight one which is energy security. Energy —
Question: What is the date of that meeting?
Mr. Bryza: We’ll be there next Thursday evening, then Friday and
Saturday. Friday is the main day. So a week from today, the 9th,
10th and 11th.
Question: In Ankara?
Mr. Bryza: Yes, in Ankara. The 8th and 9th.
So on energy security, if you look back to US-Turkish relations in the
early `90s there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about in terms of strategic
partnership. I don’t think anybody was using that term in 1990. Then in
1999 we were saying US-Turkish relations are a strategic partnership.
There are two major things that happened during that period, maybe
three. One was Operation Northern Watch where we worked so well with
Turkey to provide security for the Kurdish populations in Northern
Iraq. Turkey was essential to that.
The second thing we did together was work with the international
financial institutions, especially the IMF, to help Turkey as it
implemented its reforms, to make sure that the IMF was there to help
Turkey as Turkey was reforming.
The third thing we did that was really substantial was our partnership
in Caspian energy which obviously meant Bakhu-Tblisi- Ceyhan which
many people thought would never happen, and meant the South Caucasus
gas pipeline which is about to open.
Today what we want to do is build on those pipelines, expand the
corridor that currently exists for natural gas and make it a major
one, a big one, a transit route that will help Europe diversify its
gas supply so that it doesn’t feel so much monopoly pressure from one
direction. Our goal is not to have a confrontation with GazProm, but
our goal is to increase competition, healthy commercial competition
which in the long run is good for everybody, including for GazProm
itself, by the way. The key to making all that work is helping the
Azerbaijani government work with investors to expand gas production
in Azerbaijan as quickly as possible to make sure gas is available to
fill the pipelines that will go from Turkey to Greece and Italy, as
well as an Abuko pipeline from Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary
So that’s sort of the full realm, I think, of what will be on the
agenda for the Foreign Minister’s visit.
Question: What about Cyprus?
Mr. Bryza: They’ll probably touch on it, but as you know things have
quieted down quite a bit on Cyprus except for in the last couple
of days with the questions of the possible oil prospecting on the
Frankly, that issue is not one I would think that merits at this
point attention by the Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister
of Turkey. We’re not party to that at all. That’s an issue for Turkey
to work through with the Republic of Cyprus.
In terms of the Cyprus question, it’s time now to implement the
agreement brokered by (United Nations) Undersecretary General
(Ibrahim) Gambari last July 8th on the island, which means soon Talat
and Papadopoulos will meet and then technical committees will begin
working through specific, everyday quality of life issues while at
the same time the two sides will work through substantive issues that
are pertaining directly to a comprehensive settlement. The Annan Plan
is something that isn’t, well it’s not formally on the table now but
it still has elements that are important, that reflect a lot of good
thinking, a lot of hard work, and that are promising, that will have
to be a foundation of a comprehensive settlement whenever we move
more rapidly toward a comprehensive settlement.
The port issue now seems quieter since the European Union decision.
Mr. Bryza: The so-called Armenian genocide, yes. What’s happening
with that? That will probably come up, yeah.
Our position on that is that our policy remains of course unchanged.
We don’t believe that political statements or diplomatic statements
are the appropriate way to resolve this issue of how to refer to these
horrible events of 1915. We all agree, I’m sure we all agree that
what happened was a horrible tragedy. It’s terrible. It’s an issue
that has so many sides, so many complicated angles, so many differing
points of view that politicians can’t do it justice by simply making
a determination. What has to happen from our perspective, what we
would like to see happen, is that learned people, everyday common
people, professors, philosophers, historians have a chance to sit
down and have a candid discussion over time for an extended period
that gets at the core of what happened and allows the societies of
Turkey and Armenia to reconcile themselves with their pasts and with
each other. You can’t do that through a political decision.
We also would like to see Turkish-Armenian relations normalize. I as
the Minsk Group co-chair for the United States totally understand
how complicated that is. I’m deeply sensitive to Nagorno Karabakh
and how that plays into this whole equation. Notwithstanding that
we would love to see movement toward an opening or a normalization
of the relations between Turkey and Armenia because that’s good for
everybody. It will be good for Turkish business people, it’s good
for regional stability, and it’s good for peace in the long run but
I understand how complicated it is.
Question: What could possible steps be on the part of Armenians and
Turks for that [inaudible]?
Mr. Bryza: Well Aliyah, as you well know, the Turkish government, the
Armenian government have talked about historical commissions. They’ve
talked about diplomatic discussions as well to normalize relations.
Then there’s the question now since the tragic murder of Hrant Dink,
about, an even more intensive discussion of Article 301. It’s hard for
the Turkish government simply to abolish Article 301 given political
realities. We understand that. But I think from our perspective it
would be a wonderful step if there no longer was this issue out there
of Article 301 that provides a pretext or a reason for people outside
of Turkey to criticize Turkey.
We are here as Turkey’s friend. I hope Turkey considers us one of its
closest friends in the world. In that spirit we want to do everything
we can for what we view as Turkey’s proud traditions of tolerance and
of co-existence, of all sorts of ethnic and religious communities. We
want the world, especially Europe, to understand what a strong record
Turkey has. Article 301 still makes that difficult. It has a magnetic
impact on thinking in Europe and gets everybody to focus just on that
issue rather than on all of the complex history of Turkey.
Question: Not on the Armenian genocide but on the PKK, you said that
you are, the US is obligated to do something on the PKK, that you’re
also obligated to do something against it because of your vision in
Iraq. So would you please fill in what concrete steps we are talking
about and why if this was your vision in Iraq what has changed? Why
are you feeling obliged to do it right now when the elections in
Turkey are getting closer?
Mr. Bryza: We’ve always felt obliged. Always. There is no change in
terms of our commitment. If you go back and read the statement that
President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and then Prime Minister Baroso
then of Portugal and President Aznar of Spain issued just a couple
of days before the Iraq war began you will see in it — it’s called
the Azores Declaration — one of the goals we outlined is that there
will be no haven for terrorists of any sort in Iraq. We meant the
PKK. I know, having been involved in the drafting of that document
what meant when we wrote that in there. We meant the PKK. So even
before any US troops set foot in Iraq that was our goal.
Question: You may say that, it sounds wonderful. It comes with such a
fantastic statement to the ears, but in reality it is something that
the US has not delivered.
Mr. Bryza: You’re right.
Question: That has created this enormous reaction toward the US
policies in the region, evoking the sense of [Sykes-Picot agreement].
So I’m just curious what has changed? What’s the new environment now
that you feel like you’re going to bring this into action now?
Mr. Bryza: Again, I’m trying to make the point that nothing has changed
in terms of what our commitment has been. What is changing, one thing
is that we over time have been able to get the Iraqi government to
a point where it now understands this is imperative, it has to happen.
Previously we had not been able to bring US forces to bear to resolve
or to eliminate the PKK problem in Iraq. Why? Number one, because the
solution is not only military. The Turkish military has been present
in Iraq for a decade. Long before the war there were Turkish troops
on the ground in Iraq. There were clashes. The problem wasn’t fixed.
Turkey has the most capable military in Europe. It wasn’t able to
fix the problem militarily. That’s not an excuse for no security
steps to be taken against the PKK, don’t get me wrong. But what I’m
getting at is it’s a very complicated issue, number one.
Number two, obviously US military forces and security forces have been
occupied with burning fires elsewhere in Iraq. One way to look at it
in a folksy way is that if your house is on fire and your neighbor’s
house is on fire you need to put out the fire in your house before
you can go take care of your neighbor’s house fire. Or in an airplane
they tell you before putting an oxygen mask on your child sitting
next to you, put it on your face first so you can function.
So for these last couple of years we’ve been working so hard to try
to get the situation under control in the rest of Iraq first.
Question: It’s even worse now.
Mr. Bryza: Yeah.
Question: The fire in Iraq in general is much worse now. So the fire
at home, your home, is even bigger now.
Mr. Bryza: It is even bigger, yeah. So what I’m saying is — That’s
a separate point. It’s true but a different point, Umit. Now we’ve
gotten to a point I think where we’ve gotten the Iraqi government to
a point where it realizes uh huh, we’ve got to do something.
We don’t want to be responsible. We can’t be responsible for fixing
this problem on our own because if we were to do so, if we were the
ones that were responsible, we would be undercutting the sovereignty
of the government of Iraq. If you do that then how do we maintain
the territorial integrity of Iraq if it’s the US that’s in charge of
fixing these problems on Iraq territory? So that’s a political reason,
so we’ve had to get the Iraqi government to do it.
Question: Are you saying that if you allow the Kirkuk Referendum to
go ahead, you’re going to put your signature to divide the country
into three, at least, different countries or nations, whatever you
name it. So do you agree with the Turkish vision in that?
Mr. Bryza: When the referendum in Kirkuk would take place is not
Question: It is determined in the Constitution. It will happen before
the end of this year.
Mr. Bryza: Or will it? Who knows if it will. Will it actually? I
don’t know if it will.
Question: What does the US think about Turkey’s position on it? Do you
agree with the Turkish assessment on Kirkuk? If the referendum goes
ahead it is going to be leveraged to divide the country or the Kurds.
Mr. Bryza: The way I would answer that is to say that our goal, as
President Bush just said, is to maintain a unified Iraq. Anything you
hear to the contrary, any pundits or political speculation, whether
they be people in power or out of power to the contrary, is false.
Our policy is to support a unified Iraq. We understand how sensitive,
how dangerous the situation in Kirkuk is.
The governments of the United States and Turkey and Iraq, and Baghdad,
I mean, share a common vision when it comes to Kirkuk in terms of
not wanting that situation to lead to the breakup of Iraq, right? And
wanting there to be a way to resolve the difficult property questions
and demographic issues that are what’s really fueling the political
fire in Kirkuk.
So on timing, et cetera, I don’t have anything else to say and if you
really want to get down into the details of that, talk to the Iraqi
people. But in general I can say we do share the Turkish society
and government’s vision that if Kirkuk is not managed properly it
can become a terrible problem that works against our shared goal of
maintaining a unified Iraq. That’s our goal. We’ve got to do that.
Question: On the PKK you said it is not only a military solution.
Keeping that in mind, when I talk to people in Ankara and Washington
lately I am getting the sense that indeed a military operation might
take place in the spring and with the consent of the US government.
Am I naïve to believe that? Is it still out of the question for the
US government or is it perhaps the sign they’re coming to an agreement
that may be a limited operation —
Mr. Bryza: You mean a Turkish military operation?
Question: Turkish, yes.
Mr. Bryza: You were never naïve. But that’s not something that we’re
really talking about at this point.
Our goal is to produce concrete results and preferably to have the
Iraqi government produce them, right? Because of what I said before.
We support Iraq’s territorial integrity. To do so the Iraqi government
has to be sovereign, it has to carry out its own functions on its
own territory. And frankly, if you’re a leader in Baghdad you have
no interest in PKK terrorists roaming through the country.
That’s a negative. Even if you’re (KRG President Masoud) Barzani or
(Iraqi President Jalal) Talibani, if you were still up in the north,
you know better than I do about the military clashes that ensued
between PKK and Kurdish groupings previously.
So there’s no desire in Baghdad to let this problem go on forever.
Our challenge is to focus and arrange, physically, mechanically get the
government of Iraq to a point where it can undertake these efforts. Of
course with our support. And all of this, obviously I’m not going to
give you a detailed answer to your question, but whatever happens has
to be done in a way that’s coordinated among all of us. The Turkish
government, the Iraqi government and the US government, let me put
it that way. But please don’t misinterpret that as either a green
light or a red light or a warning or an admonition or a statement of
approval of what you suggested, a Turkish unilateral action.
Question: My second question is about Makhmour (refugee camp). When
General Ralston was there he talked to the people in the camp and
asked them under what conditions they would go back to Turkey. They
said if there is an amnesty. There is a decision to close the camp.
There have been these discussions I think now two years ago between
the US and Turkey —
Mr. Bryza: Even longer.
Question: I’m wondering first of all if that working group or a
similar process of negotiations or talks will begin on the closing
of the Makhmour Camp, and what is your position of what Turkey can
do to persuade those in the camp to go back.
Mr. Bryza: Thank you.
We hope there will be trilateral discussions. Actually in a way,
quadrilateral, right? The government of Iraq, the government of Turkey,
the United States and the UNHCR. There is a pending agreement out there
that needs to be finalized. Turkey needs to provide its comments on
this document that’s co-drafted with the UNHCR. But so does Iraq. So
the next step ought to be that the parties come together, either they
sit down at a table together or if they just exchange information
and suggest edits to this agreement, then we can go forward even
further in closing Makhmour, but Makhmour is in the process of being
closed out, as General Ralston described. There were just actions
taken by the Iraqi government to confiscate weapons that were in
the camp. There’s a census that’s been conducted in the camp now as
well. These are all mechanical steps that need to transpire for the
camp to be closed down. Not because we say you have to go through
these steps, but this is what the UNHCR which has jurisdiction over
the camp has wanted to see happen, so that’s happening.
When it comes to the return of camp residents or other members of the
Kurdish population to Turkey yes, you’re right, as General Ralston
said, he was there, he did encounter a significant number of Turkish,
I guess former citizens, Turkish citizens of Kurdish ethnicity who
would like to return to Turkey. I don’t know exactly what it takes to
provide them the confidence that it’s "safe" to go back. I don’t know
what that is. I know how controversial an amnesty law would be. This
government would not suggest to any ally that they should turn the
other cheek and forget about terrorist crimes. Of course we would
never suggest that. If somebody has committed a terrorist crime they
should go through the normal judicial process, be prosecuted.
Investigated, prosecuted and the rule of law should proceed.
There’s a much more complicated question for people who are suspected
of or perhaps are or were members of the PKK who are not and were
never terrorist operatives. How do you deal with them? I don’t have
an answer to that. That’s up to the Turkish government to come up
with a way to resolve that problem.
What I can say is if the Turkish government does come up with a
mechanism like that, that will I think have a significant, maybe even
a dramatic impact in draining away the political or even physical
support for the PKK in Iraq. That’s very helpful. But that doesn’t
get away from our obligation or our need to produce other concrete
results on the ground in Iraq.
Question: Do I understand you right, you said you would like to see
the quadrilateral process begin again —
Mr. Bryza: Yes.
Question: — but there’s no decision?
Mr. Bryza: It’s sort of going along. The way this works is people
exchange papers, drafts, e-mails, it has to come to closure somehow.
And whether we force the coming to closure through an actual physical
meeting or whether working through embassies we just make it happen,
it just has to happen.
Question: I understand the US position is that Turkey should work
[inaudible] Iraqi government. Iraqis take care of problems, be they
PKK or other issues. Do you think, obviously Turkey does not invite
Mr. Talabani to Ankara and Turkey does not have a good relationship
with Mr. Barzani. Do you think this is helpful? Do you think it
could be a good thing for Turkey to engage more? Especially Turkish
[inaudible], have better outcome?
Mr. Bryza: Yeah. We do think it would be useful for the Turkish
government to engage even more with Kurdish regional leaders, but
with Kurdish regional leaders in the context of they being part of
the government of Iraq. The whole point is that we don’t want to do
anything that undermines the sovereignty of the central government in
Baghdad. So as far as we’re concerned, Barzani, sure he’s a leader of
the KDP, sure he’s the leader of the Kurdish region but he’s also a
member of the government of Iraq and we need always to consider him
in that regard. Or he’s an Iraqi official, let’s put it that way.
Just as the Governor of California is an American official. That’s
It’s useful in an operational way or in a practical way, for example,
for General Ralston and General Bashir to have interaction with
political leaders in the Kurdish area because there are so many
practical problems that need to be worked out to produce those concrete
results against the PKK I’ve been talking about. It’s a lot harder
to do if we don’t have that multilateral cooperation happening.
Question: The Cyprus government obviously angered Turkey with its
decision to have an agreement, a contract, having a contract with
Lebanese and Egyptians. It’s an internationally disputed area,
obviously. The United States is trying to find a resolution of the
problem there. Do you think was it timely on the part of Greeks to
pursue with that agreement? Is it helpful?
Mr. Bryza: You mean the Continental Shelf thing?
Question: Yes, the agreement with oil exploration. Was it timely? Was
it a wise move or a good move on the part of Greeks? Or it should
have been better if they delayed such actions after a resolution was
found for the dispute?
Mr. Bryza: It’s not really for me to assess whether the Greek
government’s decision was wise or unwise, but what I can say sitting
in the chair I sit in, also being our mediator on Cyprus, is that
any action that takes place that increases the level of emotionality
and political tension doesn’t help us get to the point where we
reduce tension and reduce emotion to the point that we can really
reinvigorate the Cyprus settlement process under UN auspices. So I
would hope that this issue will pass, will calm down, and that we
together will turn back to the UN process and implementation of the
Gambari Agreement from July 8th. That’s what I hope.
Question: I understand your [inaudible] about the [inaudible]
on the issue of PKK, but we know that President Bush gave
instruction to American Army [inaudible] without asking the Iraqi
authorities. And when your troops [inaudible] people all parts of
the Iraqi government. Maybe not [inaudible], but the Shiite and the
Kurdish ones [inaudible]. Is that a double standard? [Inaudible] with
the Iranians, you can arrest them, you can kill them, but without
asking Iraqi authorities; but on the other hand the terrorist PKK,
you called them terrorists, you know that they are, and you cannot
provide any instruction because you refer [inaudible] of Iraq.
Is that something, I think there is something wrong.
Mr. Bryza: That’s a very perceptive question, but my answer would be
no, there’s not a difference here.
Number one, when it comes to — I don’t know when the orders were
issued in terms of dealing with Iranians on the ground. There are
press reports —
Question: We know that they arrested them and that Iraqi authorities
Mr. Bryza: Yes. But what we don’t know is what other sorts of
arrangements may have been in place between us or the coalition and
various Iraqi authorities. I just don’t know the answer to that. I
don’t know. So what I’m saying is I don’t know the case that what we
did was totally against the wishes of the Iraqi government, but that’s
not that important. The difference here is that the Iranians are in
the midst of US forces, so we encounter them. If we encounter PKK
operatives we better arrest them as well, but we don’t encounter them.
We don’t have forces in the north. We don’t have them up there.
Question: With all due respect, sir, are you punishing the country
that’s behaving and loving its citizens to be killed by PKK terrorists
crossing the border from northern Iraq?
Mr. Bryza: I don’t understand your question.
Question: Because they do not intervene in the Iraqi theater? Because
they sit on their side, don’t cross the border. But the Iranians
are crossing the border, creating your, making your life much more
difficult in Iraq, so that you are taking an action against Iran. But
on the other side you are claiming to be an ally to Turkey and just
okay, they have to handle it.
Mr. Bryza: I don’t understand that point. Where is there a double
standard? Can you try it again?
Question: Can I [inaudible]? Does the United States need any PKK
attack to American troops for arresting them?
Mr. Bryza: No. Not at all.
Question: You need some encounterment with the PKK people in Iraq
for arresting them?
Mr. Bryza: No. It’s a question of the physical presence of where US
forces are. We do not have these concentrations of US troops in the
north. We’re not there. So we don’t come across PKK operatives the
way we come across these Iranians elsewhere in Iraq.
Question: But American troops arrested the Iranian in Irbil.
Mr. Bryza: It was in Irbil.
Question: It shows us that American troops may operate in north,
and just the first days of the occupation American forces attacked
and eliminated [inaudible] in north.
Mr. Bryza: Yes.
Question: Because [inaudible] terrorists. Yeah, he is terrorist. But
PKK also. So that American troops operated and are still operating if
necessary in northern Iraq, and they are operating against, they are
arresting Iranian people in northern Iraq, in Irbil. We know it is
[inaudible] PKK people [inaudible] or other places.
The question is the lack of encounter with the PKK in Iraq territory,
is the question? If PKK attacks, are you waiting for some kind of
literally attacks from PKK in order to —
Mr. Bryza: We’re not. No. That’s a good question. No, we’re not. We
are waiting to get the information that allows us to go after them
and there have been cases in the past where we’ve gotten information
and we’ve followed up on it, gone after them, and they weren’t there.
The operatives of the PKK weren’t there.
So we’ve been unsuccessful so far. I probably shouldn’t go beyond that
as to why we’re unsuccessful. I can’t really talk about why we were,
but we were unsuccessful. So we’ve got to be successful. We’ve got to
improve the flow of information for one thing. That means we’ve got
to get the right sources, to get the right sources, that gets back
to what I talked about before. We have to get the government of Iraq
more focused to make sure we get that information and we have to do
all of that information sharing and planning in close cooperation
with the government of Turkey as well, because the government of
Turkey can have information as well.
I can’t go beyond that because then I have to be talking about
Question: But you know that Turkish public opinion is very [inaudible]
about that every day, the relation of the action.
Fortunately [inaudible] PKK, fortunately. If one day they will decide
that we cannot trust them enough, [inaudible] decide to cut ceasefire,
break the ceasefire.
Although the ceasefire, the tension in the public opinion about
this PKK issue is very high. The tension in the circle of the
state operators also the same thing. So that the question is very
big and when you said that, the last time, [inaudible]. How can you
realize that they help people who might be [inaudible] and especially
[inaudible] to the electoral task, the campaign. So can you give some
specific means of [inaudible]?
Mr. Bryza: I wasn’t saying to Kasim just be patient. That’s not what
I was saying. What I was saying was if you’re patient a little while
longer you will see some concrete results. And General Ralston said
something similar today. He said something like, I didn’t read it but
I heard what he said, he said previously as a military man, right,
the use of force as a last resort. He didn’t say that today. He talked
about arrests today.
So when I said be patient I meant beyond our interview that we’re
having yesterday, or beyond this gathering here. We know something
has to happen quickly. Yes, the ceasefire may be lifted this spring.
Yes, you’re going through elections. Yes, there’s all this controversy
over the resolution in the US Congress. There is a lot of tension, all
coming together at the same moment in Turkey about this very issue. So
we know, you’ve got our attention and we’ve got to do something or
else you’ll have zero patience and we won’t have to deal just with
journalists but with the TGS —
Question: — about this question. I had an interview with General
Ralston two weeks ago. He was complaining about, he complained about
the comments of some people in Washington about PKK. Who are they?
Because they are saying, we agree with Turkish government an
[inaudible]? Who are they? What’s the problem?
Mr. Bryza: Obviously I don’t know exactly to whom General Ralston
was referring to in your conversation. But to try to put it in a
different way without naming names, of course, I can’t name names.
But the challenge of dealing with Iraq is bigger than obviously
anything this government is dealing with right now. And there are
endless tasks and in bureaucracies, and the US government is the
biggest bureaucracy in the world, it’s the most powerful organization
in the world, it’s got so many directions, so many moving parts,
people moving in all different directions and accomplishing what they
see as their discreet tasks.
If you are let’s say in charge of economic reconstruction in our
embassy in Baghdad, that’s what you focus on. If you’re in charge of
security at our embassy in Baghdad you worry about the quieting the
overall security situation with that burning house that I was talking
about before. If you’re in Washington dealing with Turkey, the top
priority is US-Turkish relations and worrying about what the impact
would be if there were what Yasamin was talking about, if there were
a Turkish incursion into Northern Iraq and how destabilizing that
could be for the whole region potentially. Somebody’s got to pull
all these pieces together and somebody has got to make sure there’s
a proper balance and a proper focus in our government, and then in
the Iraqi government as well which has all of its priorities. But
Ralston was talking about the US government.
So to integrate all that we have the Deputies Committee, the Principals
Committee, and on top of that all the President just to pull it all
together. The challenge is to make sure that when we’re working on
this problem over here, whatever it may be on the economics of Iraq,
we’re also spending enough time and devoting enough resources and
focusing enough effort on in this case the PKK problem. Getting the
huge, enormous, monstrous machine of the US government to stay focused
on the right problems at the right time requires a huge amount of
work and that’s what General Ralston is talking about.
What I was getting at before is that he is very effective at doing
that. He has such credibility, is so well regarded in the military
that he can get our folks on the ground in Iraq to say this is
urgent. You’ve got to go push the Iraqi government to drop what
they’re doing over here and focus on the PKK. That’s what he’s doing.
Question: You are encouraging Turkey to get into some cooperation
with Iraqi Kurds as well as Americans and the [inaudible] too.
Mr. Bryza: With the Iraqi government.
Question: Yeah. The thing is, I have heard many military or Turkish
military officials say that the PKK and Barzani are one and the same.
You say in some cases you pursue PKK terrorists, but you got some
leads but when your troops were there they were not there. And the
weapons surge in [inaudible]. Apparently the PKK people there had
been warned in advance and they kind of fled or whatever and the
weapons were cached or whatever. Who is doing that? Iraqi Kurds
apparently. Are they cooperating in the first place? Why don’t you
urge the Iraqi Kurds to cooperate with Turkey in the first place?
It’s their job as Iraqis to do that. Why don’t you push them in
[inaudible] this way.
Mr. Bryza: What makes you think we don’t?
Question: The results are clear.
Mr. Bryza: No. The fact that they don’t produce results doesn’t mean
we’re not pushing them, right?
Question: Okay, so that means you have no leverage on them.
Mr. Bryza: It doesn’t mean no leverage, it means we’ve got to keep
on pushing them and so far we haven’t been able to convince them to
do what they have to do. I agree with you, they need to do that and
we’ve been pushing them and we need to keep pushing them and push
them harder and get them to do it. I agree with you.
Question: The other thing is that unfortunately many people we talked
to including some officials don’t share your enthusiasm about General
Ralston’s performance. There are even some rumors that Turkey might
cancel its part of the mechanism. Many people have lost their faith
in trilateral. Do you think that can happen?
Mr. Bryza: Who cares what I think about that? You know Turkey. You
Question: Well what happens if that happens? Is it hypothetical?
Mr. Bryza: It’s pretty hypothetical, yeah. I don’t think we’re going to
get to that. We better not, right? Look, if we don’t produce concrete
results, loss of faith in us overall is a natural consequence so we
have to produce the results. I don’t know what else to tell you. But
I don’t want to predict, I don’t want anyone to write about the US
official predicts that General Ralston is going to lose confidence
of Turkish officials. I don’t think that’s going to happen because
he’s so capable, but I take your point.
Question: You have been asked several times about this 50/50 issue,
[inaudible] and you [inaudible]. But I want to ask a question that
[inaudible] problem that Turkish society might become totally
anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Iraqi, anti-everything. The last
issue when we [inaudible] of the [inaudible] this reaction, all of this
discussion, et cetera. Do you think that this American and European
[inaudible] a position about [inaudible] of the issue like PKK or
[inaudible], et cetera, are not helping this kind of anti-Westernism or
anti-democracy approach [inaudible]? Is that [inaudible] for Turkey? Is
that [inaudible] for Turkey? The kind of civil coups defeat in Turkey,
against democracy, against Europe, against United States, against
everything? Is there some kind of fear or —
Mr. Bryza: No fear that there will be some kind of overturning of
Turkish democracy. No. No fear of that. Turkish democracy is strong.
It’s really strong, and it’s complicated and difficult as a democracy
is supposed to be, but no, there’s no fear that the fundamental
secular democracy that is a cornerstone of the Turkish republic,
that that’s going to go away? No. Absolutely no concern about that.
Question: But I’m not asking for your [inaudible], I’m asking
a societal issue. If people are becoming really anti-Western,
anti-democratic, you cannot protect the democracy without people. And
we have so many examples like this in Europe —
Mr. Bryza: You mean a revolution? You’re talking about a revolution?
Question: I’m talking about [inaudible] crisis, or a kind of crisis.
I am not talking a coup de’tat or some [inaudible]. I’m talking about
society preference, society’s choice, that there is the target of
[inaudible]. Hitler came to power through elections.
Mr. Bryza: He sure did. But no, I don’t see that historical analogy
having any currency in today’s Turkey. But of course we remember
what happened earlier with Gray Wolves and right wing parties and
the violence previously. Yeah, we’re aware of that. But maybe we’re
naïve, maybe we’re not seeing the full picture, but I don’t see that
level of social tension being present yet in Turkey. We still see
the most popular political party being the [AKP] party. You can argue
over how much popularity it has. Is it 25, 35, 40 percent? Probably
not 40 percent, but has it lost some of its support since the last
election? People debate that. And [MHP] which is not a violent party
but it’s on the far right, yes, it’s increasing in strength. But
nowhere near where the [AKP] party is at this point. So in terms of
society, I don’t see that happening. Maybe I’m wrong. Tell me. You
are much more astute observers of Turkish society than I am. You know
infinitely more than I do. I don’t see it.
But do we see a sharpening of the mood and the attitudes and
a hardening of approaches toward the US or toward Europe? Yeah,
we sure do and that’s worrisome. The one common political concept
across the political spectrum in Turkey is nationalism. Nationalism
can be a good thing if it rallies a country to achieve greatness;
and nationalism can become a bad thing if it leads to chauvinism.
In Turkey I don’t think it’s a worrisome trend at all, nationalism. I
think it’s positive. I think the [AKP] party’s election was a
reflection of a positive form of Turkish nationalism which is embracing
Turkey’s traditions. Islam and democracy are core traditions of Turkish
political society. Great. That’s what we would like to interpret the
[AKP] party’s election having been about. But the [AKP] party isn’t
going to govern alone, either. This next election will have other
parties coming into the parliament most likely.
Question: Don’t you think that you contribute a little bit the
anti-Western [inaudible], your position, —
Mr. Bryza: Sure.
Question: — that only the PKK [inaudible]. The PKK, I am against this
[inaudible] solution. I don’t think there is a need for [inaudible]
personally, but as a journalist I know that people are really, really
[inaudible] and really are becoming more and more anti-American,
anti-Western because PKK is surviving in northern Iraq occupied by
So this is the question. So —
Mr. Bryza: I agree with you.
Question: Previously when the Turkish government had talks with
Damascus you had some concern. Now at the ISG [inaudible] advice to
the President to have dialogue with Damascus, also Tehran, but the
President doesn’t seem to be liking the idea. Turkey still goes on
dialogue with Syria and [inaudible].
What is your feel of it now? Do you feel that Turkey has a leverage
to bring some communication via Damascus or Tehran? What does that
mean to you? Are you as irritated as you were or you have a different
take on it now?
Mr. Bryza: I wouldn’t say we’re irritated. We know Turkey has
an important role to play in its neighborhood. For God’s sake,
Turkey is a NATO ally that borders Syria, Iraq and Iran. Wow. That’s
astounding. So it’s important for us to stay very closely coordinated
with Turkey as Turkey conducts diplomacy in its neighborhood.
You’re right there was some dissonance or a difference of approach
to Syria back a couple of, well, a year ago when the international
community had decided it was going to push very hard to isolate Assad,
right? As the whole Hariri murder was unfolding and the report was
coming due. Things have changed a bit. We don’t need to go into the
history of what all that is. We still of course are not in favor of
embracing the Assad regime.
That said, we did see a positive contribution that Secretary Rice
recognized during Foreign Minister Gul’s last visit here when Ahmet
Davutoglu paid his visit to Damascus and had consultations in this case
with Hamas. It was a useful intervention. I don’t know how much of that
intervention of Ahmet Bey (Davutoglu) had to do with the government
in Damascus, but our approach is more complicated than saying never
talk to Syria. It’s more complicated than that. And as long as we’re
coordinating with the Turkish government and doing whatever we need
to do or what Turkey needs to do with Syria as a neighbor in a way
that we all are comfortable with, then there’s no problem.
When it comes to Iran, again the situation has moved a little
bit. I think the US and Turkey are on the same page in terms of
the goals in Iran. We’re not talking about regime change in the
US government, we’re talking about a change in the behavior of the
Iranian government. Turkey agrees with that.
We’re talking about Iran —
Question: Regime change is the US policy.
Mr. Bryza: Not in Iran. No, it’s not. It’s not the administration’
s policy. The administration’ s policy is behavioral change. It’s not
regime change. It’s changed behavior. Maybe some people in Congress may
have different views, but the US Constitution says the President makes
foreign policy. So our view is it’s behavioral change that we seek.
On weapons of mass destruction or on the nuclear program I think
Turkey and the United States are on the same page completely. And I
guess just in the last couple of days Iran has suggested that maybe
some of the neighbors of Iraq get together to discuss security, and
we’re not against that actually. We’re not against that. If something
positive can come out of it, okay. It’s important that Turkey play
a role in that.
Question: The Syrian Prime Minister was in Ankara. He talked to Foreign
Minister Gul and Gul is visiting to Washington. So each time prior to
the Washington visit we have these regional cooperation or whatever,
and then there is always the talk that oh, are they going to carry
a message from Damascus to Washington.
I don’t know about the message, but in the broader term do you see
Turkey is playing a role or Turkey has been asked to play a role by
Washington to have a dialogue with those two countries?
Mr. Bryza: Turkey doesn’t need to be asked by Washington do anything.
Turkey is a NATO ally, a sovereign country with a proud history of
being an important actor in this region and in regions beyond its
immediate neighborhood, so we’re not asking Turkey to do anything
but we welcome Turkey when it does the sorts of things I talked about
already, be it the visit of [Davutoglu?? ?] or Foreign Minister Gul’s
speech a couple of years ago in Tehran, right? When he talked about
reform. He said if we don’t advance reform, reform will overtake us.
Those sorts of interactions are great. That’s very helpful. That’s
Question: To follow up on [inaudible]’ s question, would it in
your view be a good step if the Turkish President invited his Iraqi
counterpart to Turkey for a visit?
Mr. Bryza: Sure, it would be wonderful. It would be great.
Question: Which [inaudible]?
Mr. Bryza: [Laughter]. You provocateur. Sezer and President Talibani?
Of course that would be a wonderful step. We want Turkey and Iraq to
have the closest possible relationship and we’ve got a lot to learn
from Turkey with regard to Iraq and vice versa.
Question: Maybe he will visit as [inaudible].
Mr. Bryza: I hope not.
Question: [Inaudible] is going to next Prime Minister of Turkey.
Mr. Bryza: What do you think?
Question: I don’t know.
Mr. Bryza: It all depends on who the next President of Turkey is,
huh? I don’t know what’s going to happen. It seems just reading what
you guys write and talking to people in your society, it seems like
maybe Turkish politics are moving in that direction, but who knows?
Question: Do you have the time for the meeting?
Mr. Bryza: I honestly don’t know what time it is, but it will be a
meeting and a lunch, so probably they’ll meet just before lunch time.
I would guess around 11:00 or 12:00, depending on if they eat lunch
at noon or at one. Unfortunately, I don’t get to go.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress