11:10 A.M. (L)
PRESIDENT DEMIREL: My dear friend, President Clinton, dear Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sharing a common belief in democracy, liberties and peace which are values of human dignity, I salute the esteemed President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton; and Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with my most sincere feelings on behalf of my nation and welcome them to Turkey.
Friendly relations between Turkey and the United States have deeply rooted grounds. Together, we shared the pride of democracies that emerged victorious from the Cold War. Our main source of strength was our sense of righteousness while we opposed totalitarianism. We were right, because we put human pride above everything else. And we were fighting for a world free of fear and oppression, for a world in which basic rights and freedoms would be secure. The spontaneous disintegration of the Soviet Union proved us right and created an opportunity for an expansion of the geography of democracies.
Last week we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the turning point of this historical development, the fall of the Berlin Wall. That wall had been a symbol of disgrace ever since it was erected. Its destruction symbolized peace and freedom. Now we have neither the Berlin Wall nor the Iron Curtain. A global compromise grounded in basic human values of democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law is forming.
But have arrived at the end of history? No. There are many problems we need to overcome. The awareness of the need to fight against these problems together is increasing fast and so are the number of people to do so. Thus, we're hopeful while we look into the 21st century. Common areas of interest and action between Turkey and the United States are rapidly expanding. We are working together for peace, stability, welfare and security of a vast geography, from the Balkans to the Caucasus, from Central Asia to the Middle East and Europe, and developing together a political agenda in accordance with the new political conditions in the world.
President Clinton's historic visit will make a great contribution to our joint efforts to this end. The Turkish-American strategic partnership, with a broad agenda, from energy to defense, from economy to politics, and from trade to culture, will be strengthened even further by this visit.
The OSCE summit in Istanbul, in which our two countries will participate, adds to the significance of this visit. History will record with emphasis President Clinton's great services to the welfare of the people of the United States and to international peace and security.
I welcome once again to Turkey, crossroads of continents and cultures, cradle of civilization, the President, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea, and I hope that they will enjoy themselves during their stay here. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President, Mrs. Demirel, distinguished friends. I thank you for your reception and for the invitation to come to Turkey. I'm delighted to be here in a place I have wanted to visit for a very long time, to deepen America's ties with one of our most important partners and allies.
For most of this century, as Turkey and the United States come closer together, our relationship has been distinguished by an increasing sense of how much, together, we can do to improve the lives of our people.
The recent earthquakes have humbled us, reminding us that for all of the advances and our own capacity to shape the future, there is much in life that lies utterly beyond our control. No one could have foreseen or avoided the terrible tragedy that struck Turkey on August 17th, or the earthquake which came again just last week.
I want to express, on behalf of the American people, again our profound sympathies and condolences to all the people of Turkey for all that you have lost. We have been honored to stand with you as you have worked so heroically to clear the damaged areas from the first earthquake and to return as best as possible to the cadence of normal life. And we pledge to work with you as you deal with this natural tragedy, as well. The United States is proud to stand with Turkey in good times or bad, against cruel natural calamities, terrorism, or other threats to freedom and democracy.
With regard to the earthquake, we have dispatched a search and rescue team to the area and sent tents to house 10,000 people made homeless. Our Export-Import Bank has allocated $1 billion in lending authority to help Turkish businesses finance projects related to reconstruction.
We will continue to do all we can to speed your recovery, to encourage private investment, to help you prepare for future natural disasters. I would also like to express my appreciation for the swift response from many other nations, including Greece, to the needs of the people of Turkey at this moment.
Mr. President, over the next five days, I will have the opportunity to be in your nation on the longest visit ever by an American President to Turkey. I want to express my solidarity with the Turkish people, and America's commitment to Turkey's future. We will work for a future in which Turkey continues to be an ally of America, a partner in the new Europe, and reconciled with others in the region, especially our friends in Greece.
I thank you for the opportunity today to meet with leaders of Turkish democracy in Ankara and the opportunity to speak to the members of the Grand National Assembly, and then for the opportunity to go to Istanbul to participate with you and 50 other leaders at the OSCE Summit. I thank you for the opportunity to go and see some of the survivors of the first earthquake, to learn about what we in America still can do to help.
Mr. President, you mentioned that it was 10 years ago this month that the Berlin Wall fell. I want to thank you again for the partnership we have had for peace and freedom with Turkey in the years since, especially in Bosnia and Kosovo.
I thank you for sharing the lesson we are still learning in times of agony as well as joy. We are all in this together. And to me that means, in part, we must continue to fulfill a vision of a Europe undivided, democratic, in peace for the first time in history, anchored by a stable and prosperous Turkey.
Mr. President, this week I pledge to you that I will work with you to fulfill the promise of that unified, whole, free Europe. With Europe -- a Europe that includes Turkey -- and a partnership with Turkey and the United States that includes our commitment to freedom and opportunity for all people, we have a chance to start a new century on higher ground. And the success of our partnership will have a lot to do with that.
Thank you again for welcoming me, and for being a genuine friend to the United States. (Applause.)
END 11:27 A.M. (L)
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