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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Hello.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Very good to be here with my friend, the Turkish prime minister[1].  Mevlüt and I were just together at the NATO Ministerial.  I’m looking forward to pursuing that conversation.  Today we had Finland and Sweden submit their applications, and this of course is a process, and we will work through that process as Allies and as partners.

We have a lot on our common agenda, including, of course, Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.  The United States, Turkey, all of our allies have been resolute in support of Ukraine, and we want to see this Russian aggression come to an end.  I’m grateful for the solidarity that we’ve shown, that Turkey has shown in that effort.

There are many other challenges that we’re the dealing with together and maybe some opportunities, including the South Caucasus.  We’ll have an opportunity to talk about that.  And we want to talk about continuing to strengthen and build on our economic relationship and partnership.  Actually, we’ve reached record levels of trade here despite COVID, despite other challenges.  We want to build on that.

Finally, we’re both here because we feel acutely the challenge of food insecurity, a challenge that has been with us for some time.  Again, COVID, climate contributed, but also conflict, including, again, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.  So we’re going to spend some time both together and then with our colleagues talking about the steps that we can take in the near term to help alleviate food insecurity as well as some of the more medium-term and longer-term steps to build a stronger system.

With that, Mevlüt, good to see you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ÇAVUŞOĞLU:  Thank you.  Thank you, Tony.  Very good to see you, too, after our pull-aside in Berlin on the occasion of NATO informal ministerial.  And always a pleasure to discuss bilateral relations and regional and global issues with you directly.  Therefore, I’m very happy that we are going to convene the first Strategic Mechanism Ministerial today as well.


FOREIGN MINISTER ÇAVUŞOĞLU:  Of course, we will focus on our bilateral relationships, and we are aiming to overcome the differences through dialogue and diplomacy.  And there are areas that we need to also pay attention or focus to further deepen our bilateral relations and cooperation.

And you mentioned trade.  Yes, we aim to reach $100 million trade volume, and the increase in 2021 despite the pandemic actually made us more hopeful to reach that target.  And the developments and Russian aggression in Ukraine showed once again that as allies and friends, Turkey and the U.S. should have better cooperation.  This is the expectation of not only our nation, but also the friends and allies in our region and beyond.

And two new challenges that we are facing today – actually, ongoing one, the migration, and the food security.  And I’m very grateful to you to organize a session here in New York on food security, and also we will be addressing tomorrow at the global refugee review.

Yes, we see the threat in our region, and that’s the reason we see that Finland and Sweden want to be NATO member, new member.  You know, Tony, Turkey has been supporting the “Open Door” policy of NATO even before this war.  But with regards to these possible candidates – or already candidate countries – we have also legitimate security concerns that they had been supporting terrorist organizations.  And there are also export restrictions on defense products.

So we already express our concerns.  And I had a candid and direct talk with two colleagues, Ann and Pekka, in Berlin.  So what I am trying to say, we understand their security concerns, but Turkey’s security concerns should be also met.  And this is also one of – one issue that we should continue discussing with friends and allies, including United States.

So looking forward have a result-oriented and fruitful discussion today with you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, Mevlüt.  (Inaudible.)

[1] foreign minister

U.S. Department of State

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