Foreign Minister Ismail Cem
Speech at the Turkish Grand National Assembly
September 17, 2001

Mr. Speaker, Honorable Deputies,

Following the recent agonizing attacks, we feel and share the suffering of the American people in the bottom of our hearts. Indeed it is us, Turkey, who will feel and share this suffering most. Because we have experienced lived through it for years. It is the family of a Turkish martyr, it is us, who understand best this agonizing attack, since we have fought against terrorism in Turkey for years. It was only last week that we lost two of our policemen. An innocent woman lost her life just because she was a passer-by and from the point of view of the victim of terror, we cannot make a distinction between minor and major terrorist attacks. We share the grief of each person died in New York, Washington and their families one by one.

The international struggle against terrorism is a much more comprehensive, profound and challenging task. This approach is what we have advocated for many years. Of course we support the US in its great struggle. We are present at this great struggle. We will extend all sorts of support available to us, the support within the framework of our realities and capabilities. In addition to this, we have not forgotten and will not forget the US support extended to Turkey, at the times of our troublesome combat against terrorism, when many of our friends have listened us with deaf ears and looked with blind eyes. It is us who suffered most from terrorism. That is why we are cognizant of the importance of the combat against terrorism.

In this context, as you know, a decision has been taken within NATO and the article 5 of the NATO Treaty has acquired new interpretetion. I would like to touch on this briefly. Article 5 of the NATO Treaty stipulates that attack against a NATO ally from outside should be considered and responded as if it is directed against all allies. It is a different area of discussion to argue whether and to what extent this was taken into consideration in the past. However, with this recent change, the scope of this article has been broadened and a terrorist attack targeting an ally individually is also being considered as if it was perpetrated against all NATO members and should be responded collectively. Just to correct some incomplete comments in this issue, I should say that this does not mean that according to this recent change "a decision will be taken and all member countries will follow accordingly; the will of individual members will be disregarded and all members will take part in the response with all their capabilities in every sense." Of course it requires solidarity and collective action. We have made our requests in this context for many years, however, the contribution of each member country is thought to be depending on its own capabilities, reality and procedures.

When we refer to this terrorist act and the article 5 of the NATO Treaty, we have always been stating that terrorism has no religion and it has no geography either. If terrorism had happened only in the American continent and succeeded there, then it might be called as such. Wherever it may stem from, Europe or the Latin America, terrorism is the same. Terrorism does not only include the ones who pull the trigger or the ones who directly commit that act. But it also includes all countries, which support, protect, shelter and grant privileges to it before their judiciary systems. If a new understanding may get shaped, Turkey, being a country that has long suffered from terrorism will contribute the fight in order that this understanding should not identify terror with a specific continent or ethnicity, underlining the fact that the ones who guide, use, orient or tolerate terrorism should also be responsible for their own acts.

On terrorism, a new extended coalition is being put on the scene. In line with these efforts, we are in close contact with the USA, our NATO allies, the EU, Central Asian Republics and with some Middle Eastern countries with whom we share common ideas, and we share our concerns with them while trying to learn theirs. And again in those contacts, especially with our Western allies and the USA, we also underscored that terrorism has nothing to do with religion as our Government and the Prime Minister had rightly put it recently better than I do. There is nothing like Islamist, Christian or Jewish terrorism. We conveyed this approach, with perseverance and insistence, to all our counterparts and saw that we could succeed to draw their attention to that point. While on the one hand, saying that fight against terrorism is a common concern of Asia, America, Europe, and of all nations and on the other hand, creating differences within ourselves on the basis of religion and culture departing from false and artificial definitions as well as false civilization descriptions, waiting for a unity to emerge from this thinking is a mistaken stance. This stance is certainly unacceptable and I want to mention that we are in pursuit of this issue and will continue to be.

Honorable Deputies,

The fight with terrorism -unfortunately we have much experience- must be managed with absolute coordination and unity. In this understanding, our government has set the proper environment for the relevant units to work together. As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we keep close contacts with the Ministry of National Defense, General Staff, Undersecretariat of National Intelligence with a view to discuss the questions such as "what may happen?", "what evil we may encounter?", "which eventuality may cause distress on us?".

Above all, the unity of the Government with the Turkish Grand National Assembly has the utmost importance. Similarly, the unity of all political parties in the Parliament with the Government is also very important. Undoubtedly, unity does not mean that the political parties would accept whatever the Government says, but we are in a period of time that dictates us to learn from each other and in this regard, I would like to tell you that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is ready to share all information which the political parties require.

Fight with terrorism is a long term struggle. In line with our experience, our priority within this struggle is Turkey. Our priority is the interests of Turkey, Turkish people and its well-being. Our priority is to refrain from incidents which may harm Turkish people, Turkey's economy, well-being, security and consider our responsibility vis-à-vis our region, our people and humanity as a whole. In line with our experience, we must keep our calmness. We keep telling our allies, friends to refrain from hasty action but remain committed and calm. The true perception of freedom and democracy of a nation is the necessary tool in its fight with terrorism. The most important method of fighting with terrorism, is to use freedom and democracy as a weapon to hit terrorism at its core. We will support each other and trust that Turkey as a great state which has a great history, culture and nation, will overcome all these difficulties. We should not exaggerate them. We could never be held hostage by fear. This is what all our friends and foes should know.

Honorable Deputies, as I mentioned, we may encounter difficulties which we will overcome the difficulties which we may encounter, by calmness. The important thing here is the trust in each other, the trust in our nation, the trust in ourselves as the Turkish Grand National Assembly. With this understanding, I extend to you my respect and affection.