In our relationships -- relations with the United States not only in the field of security, but also in the economic and also diplomatic areas, we are determined to maximize them. And for this reason, over the recent months, my (inaudible), which I have talked to recently over the recent months has been Mrs. Clinton. We have talked on the phone very often. And so the previous telephone conversation transferred some of the items of the agenda to the next one. And on our latest phone call, we decided to meet in Istanbul and make a discussion and also an evaluation. And in the deliberations we had yesterday, it was impossible for us to talk about all the agenda -- both Mr. Obama and also his Excellency, President Abdullah Gul. So we are trying to do what it takes to be model partners. In our today’s talks, we talked about regional issues and also developments in the Middle East and also the influences and impacts of these developments on the region. And also we shared -- we exchanged information and also ideas about this and also some developments in the (inaudible) and following the (inaudible) meeting and also the latest point that reached in the relations of Armenia.
And so we also discussed very extensively and also in the Bosnia-Herzegovina as there is a functioning (inaudible). We also talked about the importance of a functioning state in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Balkan world and between Serbia and Kosovo. We also reiterated and shared the support (inaudible) extent for these relationships. And also in the context of developments in the Middle East, and we have talked about the latest developments in our relationships between Turkey and Israel. In addition to this, the Turkey-EU relations and also the latest point reached in the negotiations about Cyprus. So we’ve had the potential to share -- exchange information about this and all these very extensive (inaudible) and in this beautiful Istanbul air, I’m very pleased to have -- we are very pleased to have discussed all these issues.
Due to the latest PKK attacks and as it is the case all the time, cooperation against terrorism has always been -- has been one of the primary items of our agenda for this reason, and we talked about the need and we emphasized the need for the solidarity against terrorism and so the Turkish-EU -- I’m sorry, U.S. relationship will be used in the best way -- in the most effective way. I would like to welcome her once again, and I believe that we’ll be in contact from now on, and we’ll be having very often negotiations, and we are going to continue to manage all these issues again. So I would like to welcome Mrs. Clinton and her very esteemed -- her distinguished delegation.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister. And let me say how much of a pleasure it is personally for me to be with you here in Istanbul and what a great honor it is to represent my country in these important discussions.
Let me begin by once again offering our condolences for the loss of Turkish soldiers in Southeast Turkey. As I told the foreign minister and as I told President Gul last night and as I will repeat to the prime minister when I shortly see him, the United States stands with our ally, Turkey, against terrorism and threats to internal and regional stability. Our commitments to Turkey and its security is rock solid and unwavering.
Two years ago in Ankara, President Obama pledged to renew the alliance between the United States and Turkey, and especially to focus on the friendship between the Turkish and American people. Today, we can say with confidence that our bonds are sound, our friendship is sure, and our alliance is strong. Our partnership is rooted in a long history and a very long list of mutual interests, but most importantly it is rooted in our common democratic values. It is through the lens of this shared democratic tradition that the United States welcomes Turkey’s rise as an economic power, as a leader in the region and beyond, and as a valued ally on the most pressing global challenges.
I’d like to say just a few words about the future of our relationship and why I believe it is so important to both our nations. First, on the economic front, because of the seriousness of the strategic issues we confront together, the economic dimensions of our relationship can too often be overlooked. But as President Gul and President Obama have affirmed, the growing economic cooperation between Turkey and America is providing new energy to us both. So far this year, trade between us is up more than 50 percent. That means more jobs and greater prosperity in both our countries. But we see even greater potential ahead and we are committed to furthering and expanding trade and investment. We are both entrepreneurial peoples, and the more we work together, the more creativity and talent we will unleash. So I am delighted that Turkey will host the second Global Entrepreneurship Summit here in Istanbul later this year, building on the progress that we made last year in Washington.
There’s also a chance to foster even closer ties between our people, our businesses, and our communities. For example, in the run-up to the summit, the public-private initiative called Partners for a New Beginning is working with the Coca-Cola Company, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, and other partners to offer Turkish women entrepreneurs new seed grants, training, and mentoring.
Through our Global Entrepreneurship Program and other initiatives, we are working with Turkish high schools and universities to link the next generation of Turkish business leaders with young counterparts in the United States.
Today, the foreign minister and I discussed additional ways we can further strengthen our ties. Turkey’s upcoming constitutional reform process presents an opportunity to address concerns about recent restrictions that I heard about today from young Turks about the freedom of expression and religion, to bolster protections for minority rights, and advance the prospects for EU membership, which we wholly and enthusiastically support.
We also hope that a process will include civil society and parties from across the political spectrum. And of course, I hope that sometime soon we can see the reopening of the Halki Seminary that highlights Turkey’s strength of democracy and its leadership in a changing region.
I think across the region, people from the Middle East and North Africa particularly are seeking to draw lessons from Turkey’s experience. It is vital that they learn the lessons that Turkey has learned and is putting into practice every single day. Turkey’s history serves as a reminder that democratic development depends on responsible leadership, and it’s important that that responsible leadership help to mentor the next generation of leaders in these other countries.
So I am excited that we are here and we have talked about all the issues that the foreign minister has mentioned, from, of course, the successful meeting of the Contact Group yesterday about Libya, the situation in Syria, what is happening in Afghanistan, where Turkish troops are training Afghan forces to take on their own security, and of course, our mutual efforts against violent extremism, against terrorists, including the PKK.
So again, let me thank the foreign minister for his hospitality and for the breadth of our discussion. And it seems like our conversation never stops, Foreign Minister, so I look forward to the next chapter.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. This is for both of you. Madam, this is on the Syrian opposition.
Madam Secretary, there was a meeting of the Syrian opposition today. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what it’s going to take for the U.S. to show some support for the opposition, start dealing with them a little bit more. What would you like to see in terms of a viable opposition before you engage with them, and what do you think of this conference today?
And for the foreign minister, can you talk about Turkey’s contacts with the opposition and whether you think this is the type of opposition that could work towards a democratic transition in Syria? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that the foreign minister and I discussed our shared interest in seeing an end to the violence and a respect for the will of the Syrian people for political and economic reform. Yesterday, we witnessed the largest demonstrations to date in Syria, an effort to try to convey directly to the government the pent-up desire of the Syrian people for the kind of reforms that they have been promised. And at the same time, we saw continued brutality by the government against peaceful protest.
Now, Syria’s future is up to the Syrian people, but of course, the efforts by the opposition to come together, to organize, to be able to articulate an agenda, are an important part of political reform. And we believe that every country should permit such organizing and the support of opposition. We think that makes for more accountable, more effective government. So we’re encouraged by what we see of the Syrian people doing for themselves. This is not anything the United States or any other country is doing. It’s what the Syrians are doing, trying to form an opposition that can provide a pathway, hopefully in peaceful cooperation with the government, to a better future.
FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) including Syria, of course, our approach is really explicit within the region and it depends on some sort of principles. And we’ve got two basic principles. The first one is with our peaceful and brotherly countries within the region, we want to – we want them to continue the political will in a more democratic way. Of course, they have to (inaudible), they have to consider the demands of the society. If there is a political system which doesn’t consider the demand of the public, then it won’t be viable for that political system to survive. That’s why in Syria we feel the need to experience a reformation process which takes into account the demand of the public society. And of course, this transformation should not be (inaudible) in a ways that brings about conflict and also violence.
So we want the Syrian brotherly country to start the transformation process at once and we don’t want the Syrian Government to use excessive violence on the public. One of the most important principle of a political transformation is to have an opposition, of course, with (inaudible) negotiation with (inaudible). He had mentioned that they were going to have a multi-political group within the parliament. Of course, we want this to take place in Syria with a natural process. I hope that the Syrian country has got opposition parties, and we would like the opposition parties to raise their voice and to have a common point of view in the end. We want the Syrian sustainability to be strengthened and we want a more sound and viable political system within Syria.
And with the meeting that took place in Turkey, we, from the very beginning, have stated that Turkey is a democratic country (inaudible) meetings to take place in Istanbul in Turkey. This is a natural conclusion that is brought by the democratic environment in Turkey, and there in our country we also run meetings which criticizes the democratic aspects of Turkey as well. And we are not in a position – we don’t want to be commented as a country which interferes with the domestic affairs of Syria. I wish that in the Damascus, for instance, such meetings were to be held so as for those reformations to be concluded, as long as the meetings do not bring about any conflict, any violence. Of course, these meetings can take place. This isn’t a bad will that we show against Syria. All these meetings are for the sake of Syria to come up with a sound transformation, reformation. Of course, there are opposing ideas due to the political system of Syria. They also take place in Istanbul in Turkey. I hope that Syria is going to come more powerfully, more strongly, at the end of this process with a more sound democratic environment.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I am sorry (inaudible), but I would like to ask my question to the guest (inaudible). Secretary, in Cyprus you want the negotiations to be sped up and you want it to be concluded by 2012. Mr. Davutoglu – if this happens, Davutoglu says that the relations can be frozen between the European Union and Cyprus. So what is your approach for a referendum that is going to take place in Cyprus in regard to speeding up negotiations of Cyprus? Do you want to take a more active role if such a referendum takes place? And do you see a risk between the relations between you and Turkey if this referendum were to take place?
SECRETARY CLINTON: First of all, as you probably know, the United States very actively promoted the referendum that was presented to the population of Cyprus back in 2005 – right, 2004. And we were disappointed by the outcome, because we thought that that would have resolved a lot of the issues that are still being very difficult to overcome. We don’t think the status quo on Cyprus benefits anyone. It’s gone on for far too long. We believe both sides would benefit from a settlement, and we strongly support the renewed, reenergized efforts that the United Nations is leading and that the Cypriots themselves are responsible for, because ultimately, they’re the ones who have to make the hard decisions about how to resolve all of the outstanding issues.
We want to see a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and we would like to see it as soon as possible. We would like to see it by 2012. And that is something that the UN has said. That’s something I know Turkey believes. It’s something we believe. And we’re going to do everything we can to support this process and finally try to see a resolution.
FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Thank you. (In Turkish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, we’re done. Oh, okay.
FOREIGN MINISTER DAVUTOGLU: Do you want a couple more questions? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, no. (Laughter.)