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Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks With Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu

Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks With Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Mr.
Minister. So let me begin again. It’s a great privilege
for me to be able to be here in Istanbul, this remarkable, historic city, in a country,
Turkey, that is moving at such an amazing pace and accomplishing so much. And we talked
about that briefly today, what a great partner Turkey is and has been, as we define, really,
a new world in which we face an extraordinary number of new challenges. So, Mr. Foreign
Minister, thank you for your continual generous welcome here, and you are right. We are talking
frequently, maybe twice a week or so, and I think it’s having a benefit, and I’m grateful
to you for the work that you and your Prime Minister did so that President Obama could
complete his mission when he was visiting in Israel. I think that was a very important
step forward, and we thank you for those efforts. And we look forward, obviously, to the completing
of that mission. Mr. Minister, as I think you know, this has
been a difficult 24 hours for those of us in the United States, and particularly for
the family of the State Department. Yesterday, we lost a very bright and brave young woman,
a young diplomat. We lost her to a horrific attack in Afghanistan. And today, our hearts
are broken. Anne Smedinghoff was 25 years old, Mr. Foreign Minister, and I think that
in this tragedy, there is a stark contrast for all of the world to see between two very
different sets of values. On the one hand, you have Anne, a selfless,
idealistic young woman who woke up yesterday morning and set out to bring textbooks to
schoolchildren, to bring them knowledge, children she had never met, to help them to be able
to build a future. And Anne and those with her were attacked by Taliban terrorists who
woke up that day not with a mission to educate or to help, but with a mission to destroy.
A brave American was determined to brighten the light of learning through books written
in the native tongue of the students that she had never met, but whom she felt compelled
to help. And she was met by cowardly terrorists determined to bring darkness and death to
total strangers. These are the challenges that our citizens
face, not just in Afghanistan but in many dangerous parts of the world, where a nihilism,
an empty approach, is willing to take life rather than give it. What did that terrorist
accomplish? What did his cowardice and his nihilism buy him? The grief of parents who
now have to bury their children. It also brought the strengthened resolve of a nation, a diplomatic
corps, a military, all resources determined to continue the hard work of helping people
to help themselves. So yesterday, we saw the vilest form of terrorism,
but as I hope the world will have learned by now, and if it hasn’t, it will over time,
America does not and will not cower before terrorism. We are going to forge on, we’re
going to step up, we’re going to continue to do the work that we do to try to improve
the lives of other people. We put ourselves in harm’s way because we believe in bringing
hope to our brothers and sisters all over the world, knowing that we share universal
human values with people all over the world of dignity, of opportunity, of progress. So it is now up to us to determine what the
legacy of this tragedy will be. And where others seek to destroy, we intend to show
a stronger determination in order to brighten our shared future, even when others try to
darken it with violence. That was Anne’s mission when she woke up yesterday morning, and it
will be ours every single day from this morning through the next as long as God gives us the
ability to make that choice. So I want to emphasize that Anne was everything
that is right about our Foreign Service. She was smart and capable, committed to our country.
I had the privilege of meeting her, Mr. Foreign Minister, just a few days ago. When I was
in Afghanistan, she was part of my team. And she was someone who worked hard and put her
life on the line so that others could live a better life. Our hearts go out to Anne’s
mother and father, with whom I spoke yesterday, and to the two sisters and the brother who
survive her, to her friends and colleagues at home in Chicago, in Caracas where she served
her first tour of duty in the Foreign Service, and in Kabul as well as around the world.
And we also express our sadness and our condolences to every member of the United States Department
of State with whom I am today privileged to work and call colleagues. Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for allowing
me the privilege of saying a few words about this remarkable young woman, but she is, I
think, at the center of the work that you do, the work that I do, and we all try to
do to provide people with peace and with opportunity. Together, Mr. Foreign Minister, you have mentioned
today how Turkey and the United States are committed to tackling very difficult issues.
And that is why I have returned to Turkey, some would say so soon, but really, not so
soon, because the cause of peace cannot be addressed fast enough. Too much time has gone
by where too many people have been dislocated in Syria, in the Middle East. And the challenges
are real, and our nations have an opportunity to be able to cooperate in a unique way, and
I thank you on behalf of Mr. – President Obama and the American people for the extraordinary
cooperation that Turkey is offering. Today, the Foreign Minister and I discussed
our work to combat terrorism in all its forms, including yesterday’s attack, and also the
violence that has plagued Turkey for three long decades. We applaud, we admire the work
of the Turkish Government to peacefully try to end the violence that has sometimes struck
it internally. And I think that all of us join in welcoming the PKK’s commitment to
lay down their arms, and we salute the work of you, Mr. Foreign Minister, and the Prime
Minister, in your efforts to bring that about. It has been the best of diplomacy and of leadership. As we know, no peace process is easy. It always
takes courage and determination, the willingness to speak out to overcome years of mistrust
and of bloodshed, and this moment is no different. Difficult steps lie ahead, but the Foreign
Minister and I are confident that a lasting peace will improve the lives of all of Turkey’s
citizens and that we can have an impact on the lives of other people here in this region.
The redrafting of Turkey’s constitution is indeed a prime opportunity to lay the groundwork
for that shared future. And I reiterated to the Foreign Minister our hope that the protection
of universal rights and basic freedoms will be at the center of this process, as he has
expressed to me so many times, and our hope that the constitution will respect and reflect
this country’s remarkable diversity, which is part of its great strength. The Foreign Minister and I, as he mentioned,
did indeed talk about Syria. And I thanked the Foreign Minister for the constant pressure
that the Government of Turkey has placed on the Assad regime, which, as we both have said
repeatedly, must go. Turkey has also been incredibly generous to the refugees of this
crisis, and they have taken them in by the thousands, kept their borders open, done everything
possible to try to respond to that increasing humanitarian crisis. And the United States
and Turkey will continue cooperating towards the shared goal of a peaceful transition within
Syria. Finally, and let me just say, we did agree
and we look forward to a meeting of the Syria core group in the near term in order to review
what we discussed here today, but also to try to coordinate more effectively the approach
to the challenges of that particular issue. I reiterated today how much President Obama
and I are grateful for their leadership in bringing about the telephone call between
Prime Minister Erdogan and Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama. Turkey and
Israel are both vital allies of the United States. And we are hopeful that their agreement
to restore normalization between their countries will actually help to open the door to greater
cooperation so that we can, all of us, work together to promote peace and to be part of
the peace process that the Foreign Minister referred to. So once again, Mr. Foreign Minister, thank
you for having me here and welcoming me at this difficult moment. I look forward to continuing
to work with you and to strengthening our relationship. We’re grateful for your creative
diplomacy, for your energetic diplomacy, and we are very, very grateful, as I said previously,
for the vision that you have expressed about the road ahead and the things we can do together
to work on all of these critical issues. And I’ll look forward to continuing that work
with you. Thank you. QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, what exact steps
do you want to see Turkey and Israel take to achieve the normalization to which they
are committed to? Do you have a specific timeline in mind? Do you want to see things done before
Prime Minister Erdogan comes to Washington next month? Are you troubled by the somewhat
triumphalist tone that has been taken in Turkey after the agreement, the billboard posters
of a downcast Prime Minister Netanyahu looking at the ground? And on the Almaty talks, do you see – given
that Catherine Ashton says there’s been no narrowing of the gaps, you’re still far apart,
do you see any point in continuing the conversation, particularly ahead of the Iranian elections? SECRETARY KERRY: Let me answer the second
part of the question first, and then come back. With respect to Almaty, Lady Cathy Ashton
and Under Secretary Wendy Sherman have made it clear that there was somewhat of a gap
that remains, obviously, as a consequence of the discussions that they had in Almaty.
And I think that we would hope that we might have been able to move that somewhat closer.
But the door is still open to doing that, and yes indeed it is important to continue
to talk and to try to find the common ground. I think the President has made it clear, and
I would reiterate today, that this is not an endless process. This is not something
where you can play to the clock. You can’t just delay and talk for the sake of talking.
So we would repeat to Iran it is our desire to have a diplomatic solution, but this choice
really lies in the hands of Iranians. If you have a peaceful program for nuclear power,
as a number of nations do, it is not hard to prove to the world that it is peaceful.
Those other nations do that today. The reason that Iran is increasingly finding
itself isolated and in a position of being sanctioned is because they have chosen – they
have chosen – not to live up to the international requirements and standards with respect to
verification about their program. And the international community – not the United States,
not a religion, not one particular philosophy, but countries under the United Nations and
through the international community have come together and asked Iran, if your program is
peaceful, please take the steps that are rational in order to prove it to the world. Now, that’s
what we’re waiting for. But as I said earlier and repeat again, this
is not an interminable process. So we hope that out of Almaty will come a narrowing of
some of the differences. Diplomacy is a painful task, and a task for the patient. And you
need to take the time to work through some of these things. Obviously, there is an election.
That complicates the choices with respect to the politics of Iran. And we’re aware of
that. But we will continue, the President is determined to continue to pursue the diplomatic
channel. We will continue to have discussions through the P5+1 process. And we remain open
and hopeful that a diplomatic solution can be found. Now, with respect to the Israel-Turkey track,
it is not for the United States to be setting conditions or terms with respect to what the
Prime Minister’s schedule ought to be or what the requirements of Turkey are with respect
to that process. We have said, and we say again, we would like to see this relationship
that is important to stability in the Middle East, critical to the peace process itself,
we would like to see this relationship get back on track in its full measure. To be back
on track in its full measure, it is imperative that the compensation component of the agreement
be fulfilled, that the ambassadors be returned, and that full relationship be embraced. But
it’s not up to us to discuss the timing; that’s up to the parties themselves. There’s going
to be a meeting shortly, and I’m confident that there will be goodwill on both sides. The Foreign Minister has expressed to me very
clearly in response to an inquiry by me that they have taken steps to try to prevent any
kind of sense of triumphalism. It has not come from the government. In fact, there has
been limited response by the government itself, and I think it’s important for everybody to
take note of that. I think the Government of Turkey has responded sensitively and thoughtfully
to this, and they would like to see – and I’ll let the Foreign Minister – obviously,
he will speak for himself – they would like to see this process as the building block
that they worked hard, incidentally. Foreign Minister Davutoglu and I worked hard together
to try to make sure that this was something that could take place. And the President and
the Prime Minister, the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Turkey, and
the Prime Minister of Israel all came together and engaged in this phone call for a purpose. Now, if one or two people or a few people
break out and make comments, that should not cloud the overall benefit and courage which
accompanied the choices that were made on both sides with respect to this issue. And
it’s my hope that people will keep their eyes on the bigger goal, which is the relationship,
the possibilities of peace, and putting the past into the past. Now, for the families,
I would say to them we know what it’s like to have lost people in any kind of situation
where you think somehow it was wrongful. And we have ways of dealing with that. The government
is working hard in order to address that. Our sympathies go to those families, and we
hope that in the days ahead, that this issue can be appropriately resolved and put behind
us so that we can move forward to the larger strategic challenges that we face. QUESTION: (Via interpreter) CNN Turk, I would
like to ask a question. Handi Dashi from CNN Turk. Both the Minister and Mr. Secretary can answer
this question. We understand that Turkey’s getting ready to play a more active
role in the Middle East peace process. I was wondering if there’s any specific proposal
for what Turkey’s contribution could be, especially regarding maybe bringing Hamas in line with
international expectations. And in that vein, Mr. Secretary, do you see
Prime Minister Erdogan’s visits – or planned visit to Gaza, plans to visit Gaza, as a looming
crisis? That seems to be suggested by certain media outlets in Israel and also in the United
States. And if I can briefly ask a question on Syria,
we understand from certain press reports that there are plans to maybe establish buffer
zones on the Jordanian-Syrian border, on the Syrian side of the border. Is there similar
discussion regarding the north of Syria – south of Turkey, north of Syria? Thank you. SECRETARY KERRY: Okay. Let me handle the second
part of that first, as I did earlier. With respect to Syria, I’m not going to discuss
military strategy or plans that we’re not making, or I’m not aware of. I’ve heard speculation.
I hear a lot of discussion about different things like that. I’d just say to you that
Foreign Minister Davutoglu and I had a very precise and clear discussion about some of
the things that need to happen with respect to creating the climate for a transition from
the Assad regime to the future. And we are both committed, our countries are committed,
our leaders are committed, President Obama, Prime Minister Erdogan, to effecting that
transition. And we’re going to look for the most effective ways to try to bring it about
with the least violence and the most rapid transition because this is having a profound
impact on the humanitarian situation, the loss of life within the country, and the refugees
who are now in Lebanon, Turkey, and in Jordan. So it is our hope that over the next weeks,
there will be greater clarity. I’m leaving from the Middle East after I leave here and
go to Israel. I’ll be going to London for the ministerial meeting, and we will be there
having some discussions about Syria. And then subsequently, the Foreign Minister and I have
agreed in principle on a timing somewhere soon of a core group meeting in order to follow
up on that, and to focus in on what the options may be. So I think we need to let that process work
through. But suffice it to say that none of us have lost any clarity to our resolve with
respect to the need to increase the pressure so that President Assad’s calculation changes,
and so that hopefully, the real goal, which is a peaceful transition, could in fact be
effected. Now, that may not be possible, but if it is not, we certainly are not going to
stand by and allow him to continue to do to the people of Syria what he has been doing. With respect to Turkey’s role in the peace
process, we did have a discussion – and I’m now late to get to further discussion with
the Prime Minister, and I apologize to him that we’re running late – Turkey can be a
key – an important contributor to the process of peace in so many ways. It has already contributed,
just through the decision that has been made to move to resolve the issue of the flotilla
and to move beyond the apology to the compensation and to the next steps. That’s important first
steps. But subsequent to that, you heard the Foreign
Minister talk a moment ago about the need to deal with the economics. The West Bank,
Gaza together, both need to transform. Now, obviously, it’s more complicated to deal with
Gaza than the West Bank for all the obvious reasons, but Turkey can be very helpful, perhaps,
in transitioning that component of the process, as well as in helping to build on our efforts
to transform the economics of the West Bank itself. And I may have more to say about that
after I have been in the discussions I have coming up in the next couple of days. But Turkey can be very, very central not only
to the on-the-ground transformation, but also to helping to create the climate for peace
within the community of nations. Turkey’s voice is vital, and the leadership that the
Prime Minister has shown with respect to the PKK, his leadership that he also has the ability
to show with respect to the peace process. And so I think in many, many respects, the
country, as strong and as vibrant, as energized and as transformative as Turkey can have a
profound impact by being a partner in this process.

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