Joint Press Conference by NATO Secretary General and Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs – Opening Remarks

Opening remarks at the joint press conference by NATO Secretary General and Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs

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[Translator] Are you ready?

[Translator] Distinguished members of the press, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, has visited our country for the second time this year. Welcome to Turkey, Jens. The visit of the Secretary General was previously planned, but it is taking place at a critical time when we have started Operation Peace Spring to end terrorism threats, and to ensure our safety and security. The main aim of this operation is to end terrorist threats on our borders and in our territory, and it is also very important for the Alliance territory because we constitute the southeastern borders of the Alliance. We gave information about the operation to the Secretary General and we re-emphasized our expectation for a strong solidarity from our allies. We always state that there needs to be a determined and indiscriminatory fight against terrorism, and we have re-emphasized that on all the platforms, and so far, as Turkey, we have fought against all forms of terrorism, regardless of its ideology, shape, or form, and we will continue to do that. The NATO Leader Summit, which will take place in London on third and fourth of December also plays an important role for us to deliver this message. There is less than two months time before this Summit, and it was good for us to take step into the subject and the topics on the agenda. It’s an important turning point for preparing NATO to 2020 because we will be able to take some decision about how to prepare NATO for the future, and we will also have a chance to discuss the additional measures that need to be taken. This will be the challenges that we will face in the future. Turkey has always played a critical role for making stability in the South East of the Alliance and we’ll continue to do that. The Alliance know that we have undertaken a very heavy burden, and Secretary General’s presence is an indication of this awareness. We will continue to contribute and sacrifice to firstly, ensure the security of our own country and the people, and also, of course, for the security of our allies. However, as per the principle of visibility we believe that it is only natural and legitimate that we expect our allies to show solidarity. So, it’s not enough to state that. You understand the legitimate concerns of Turkey. We want to see a clear indication of your solidarity. This afternoon, the President of Turkey will have a chance to discuss these expectations with Mr. Stoltenberg, who he will welcome this afternoon, yes. You have the floor, Sir.

Thank you so much for welcoming my once again here in Istanbul in Turkey. It’s great to be back, great to meet you, and I’m also looking forward, as you mentioned, to meet the President later on today. Turkey is a strong member of our Alliance. We have deep relations as NATO allies built over decades. You play a key part in what NATO does, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. You are an important contributor to NATO’s training missions in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and you are part of our mission in COCERAL, which helps maintain stability in the western Balkans. NATO supports Turkey with defensive missile systems, helping to protect Turkey’s southern border. We also support Turkey with increased air and naval presence. Over the years, NATO has invested in more than $5,000,000,000 in military facilities in Turkey, including important infrastructure, such as naval bases and radar sites. All of this clearly demonstrates NATO’s strong commitment to Turkish security. Today, we have discussed the fight against terrorism. Turkey is at the forefront of a very volatile region. No other NATO alley has suffered more terrorist attacks, no other NATO alley is more exposed to the instability, violence, and turmoil from the Middle East, and no other NATO alley holds so many refugees as Turkey does, many of them from Syria. Minister and I also discussed Turkish ongoing operation in northern Syria. I shared with him my serious concerns about the ongoing operation and the risk of further destabilizing the region, escalating tensions, and even more human suffering. While Turkey has legitimate security concerns, I expect Turkey to act with restraint. We have a common enemy, Daesh. A few years ago, they controlled significant territory in Iraq and in Syria. Working together in the global coalition, we have liberated all this territory and millions of people. These gains must not be jeopardized. An imminent concern is that captured Daesh terrorists must not be allowed to escape. In the longer term, the national community must find a coordinated and sustainable solution to deal with the foreign fighters held in Syria. We also discussed the Turkish purchase over Russian S-400 missile system. I have repeatedly expressed my concerns about the impact of this decision. While it is for Turkey to decide which systems to purchase, there are real issues related to the lack of an interoperability with NATO systems, and the potential risk for Allied aircraft. Minister , , Turkey is a great power in this great region, and with great power, comes great responsibility. It is 70 years since NATO was founded. Turkey is an important part of this Alliance, and we appreciate your contributions to our collective security, to our missions and operations. You are making NATO stronger. And together, Turkey and the other NATO allies, we continue to adapt to keep our people safe, strengthening our collective defense, stepping up the fight against terrorism, and responding to new challenges, because together, we are stronger. Thank you so much.

[] Thank you, yes. (chattering)

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