U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Joint press conference
with Turkish National Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu
October 5, 2001
Rumsfeld: Good evening, we have just had a very fine meeting with the prime minister, the minister of defense, the minister of foreign affairs, and their associates in the national security field. Turkey, of course, is a valued and close friend as well as an ally in NATO. It is also a nation that, being in this part of the world and having experienced terrorism, is particularly sensitive and understanding of the problems that President Bush has outlined for the world in the wake of the hostile attack on the United States that cost thousands and thousands of lives.
We wanted to be here and meet with the senior leadership in this country, because we value their advice, we value their counsel, and we recognize that this is a campaign, a war, a battle against a problem that crosses the globe.
It is a serious problem. It is an immediate problem. It is a real problem. The only way to deal with it is not by attempting to defend against every conceivable attack, but rather by taking a battle to the terrorists and to the nations that harbor and facilitate the finance and tolerate international terrorism. To do that, it will require a broad and sustained effort involving political, diplomatic, intelligence, financial, as well as military activity, both overt and covert. It will take time. The terrorists operate in the shadows, and they do not have armies, or navies, or air forces that one can deal with. They function with false passports.
We need the cooperation of countries across the globe, and we are particularly grateful to the government of Turkey and the people of Turkey for their recognition that this is a very serious problem, and for the cooperation that they have offered both through NATO as well as through the meetings we had today and previous days since September 11. So, I am very pleased to be here.
I've been to Turkey many, many times as a former ambassador in NATO. I value the friendship and relationship, and I have great respect for the people of this country.
Cakmakoglu: Dear members of the press, as you know, the honorable defense secretary of the United States is visiting our country following his tour in the region. With the participation of the prime minister, the foreign minister, myself, and our chief of staff, we conducted a situation assessment with regard to the information we were given on the tour.
The public is aware of the situation created by the incident of immense proportions that occurred on 11 September in the United States, our friend and ally, an incident that triggered the regret of the entire world. The public is also aware of the support expressed by Turkey and the other allies in the wake of this incident. Turkey accords full support for the U.S. struggle against terrorism, a struggle that has gained international dimensions, and it cooperates with the United States in this regard. You are also aware of the developments that ensued the decision adopted by the NATO Council on the basis of the fact that the attack on the United States was an outside attack and is considered an attack launched against all NATO countries. These decisions also enable the use of flights, ports, and airports in NATO countries.
While all these things were taking place, Turkey had already given its full support, and this support will continue in the future as well, because Turkey has suffered greatly as a result of terrorism, losing almost 40,000 of its citizens. I felt the need to supply this detail, because our media has largely been ignoring the 5,000 deaths we sustained prior to 12 September 1980, focusing more on the losses after 1983 in connection with the separatist PKK [Workers Party of Kurdistan] terrorism. Therefore, we have experience in the struggle against terrorism, as well as various ties and kinships in the region based on our geographical position. As you know, Turkey will do its share in this struggle with regard to drying up financial sources, preventing the training of militants, and combating various terrorist organizations, with all its means, including intelligence information.
We thank the honorable secretary for his visits to our country. Once again, we convey our regrets and condolences to the terrorist victims and to the people of the United States.
Q: Have you discussed support to the Northern Alliance? Will there be cooperation between countries to strengthen the Northern Alliance?
Rumsfeld: The answer is yes. The important thing to understand about the effort against terrorism is that it is not against a country, it is not against a people, it is certainly not against any religion. In the case of Afghanistan, there are many Afghans who have been very badly treated by the Taliban. They are fleeing in a drought, (inaudible) the country, they need food.
The United States has been, I think, the largest food donor in that country, some $170 million already this year. President Bush announced a new humanitarian effort for the people. There are people in the Taliban who do not like the fact that the foreigners have come in the al Qaeda and have taken over so much of the control. There are the Northern Alliance, there are tribes in the south, there are many factions in that country that are obviously disappointed and aware of the very difficult circumstance for the Afghan people. That is why the president announced a significant humanitarian effort. That is why we are talking to the forces in the north and the forces in the south, recognizing that they have an interest in the future of that country, and we certainly hope that they are successful in rejecting a terrorist network that has very much taken over the country.
Q: Mr. Secretary, did you raise any demands apart from the demands raised through NATO for Ankara's (inaudible)?
Rumsfeld: The United States sees this as a worldwide problem and we recognize that every country has its own circumstance, it has its own neighborhood, it has its own history, and each country will make a judgment as to the kinds of ways that it can be helpful in dealing with the problems of international terrorism. We do not make demands, we do not have any view other than that each country should decide for itself how to best help. Some help in one way, others help in another way.
We were just struck, President Bush found overwhelming support across the globe, by the understanding of how dangerous this problem is and particularly how dangerous it is given the problem of proliferation, and the fact that the weapons of mass destruction can conceivably come into the hands of people like this who are willing to cause that many deaths, thousands, as on September 11. So, we want each country to do what is appropriate for that country. I think that in the last analysis, we will find that the recognition and the sense of urgency that the United States feels will be shared by other countries and that we will see an overwhelming support and cooperation. Some will do it publicly, some will do it privately. Each will do it his own way, and all of it will be helpful.
Q: The secretary of defense referred to overt and covert operations. Can you elaborate on this?
Cakmakoglu: We did not discuss such a thing.
Q: What about Turkey's current work on supporting the Northern Alliance? What can Turkey do?
Cakmakoglu: We did not discuss any support other than what was made public.
Q: In today's evaluation, in a possible operation in Afghanistan [words indistinct]?
Cakmakoglu: No. As mentioned by the honorable secretary earlier, this terrorism has gained an international dimension. Every country -- the support within NATO is full -- but other friendly countries that wish to help will determine their place in this struggle according to their situation, means, and circumstances. This is a matter of sharing, and the proportions of this sharing will correspond to the means and decisions of each country.
Q: Did you discuss the Iraq issue?
Cakmakoglu: No. This was not discussed.