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Cicek: We Want Protection Of Iraqi Territorial Integrity

Anadolu Agency: 3/24/2003

ANKARA - Justice Minister and Government Spokesman Cemil Cicek said on Monday that Turkey supported the territorial integrity of Iraq.

''One of the reasons of Turkey's dealing with Iraqi issue is humanitarian. Turkey does not have a secret intention about Iraq other than the ones that have been explained,'' said Cicek.

Speaking to reporters after the council of ministers meeting, Cicek said that the presence of Turkey in north of Iraq would be due to humanitarian considerations and terrorism risk. ''We will give the decision ourselves to have troops in Iraq in order to reach these goals,'' he said.

Cicek said that ''we issue a statement now, but developments take place very rapidly in Iraq.'' Noting that the Iraqi issue was a dynamic process, and the whole world's eyes were on this region, Cicek said that ''you get information from many TV channels. Unfortunately, the news are made public both in Turkey and in the world without investigating if they are true or not. Therefore, there is 'news pollution' and our citizens face this pollution. From now on, Foreign Ministry will issue statements everyday, and military officials will issue statements when necessary to inform the public opinion. I will try to give you information after the cabinet meetings when necessary.''

Cicek said that Turkey's Iraq policy was open and that there was not any hesitation about that issue.

''We have announced these in several platforms. But, I would like to once more stress the issues which have not changed and will not change if you say that there are zigzags in Turkey's policy and Turkey is changing policy every day,'' Cicek said.

Cicek went on saying, ''we want Iraq's territorial integrity. We are trying to stress this in every occasion and level. Secondly, we state that Iraq's resources belong to whole Iraqi people. Thirdly, we say that Iraqi nation is comprised of main elements like Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens and other elements. All of them are our brothers. We had historical unity and cultural unity. Therefore, any development that occur there closely concern us due to Turkey's interests. To this end, it is natural that we are interested in these people with whom we have multi-dimensional ties. This is also a requisite of our historical responsibility and brotherhood. Every saddening incident that may occur there will firstly sadden us and make us uneasy.''

''When we look at the developments which came onto the agenda after the first Gulf War, nobody other than Turkey extended a helping hand to the people there when 517 thousand Iraqi people had to shelter in Turkey. Some statements might have been made by some international institutions but, nobody other than Turkey took even a step to regard rights of those people and laws when the financial dimension of the issue came onto the agenda,'' Cicek added.

''So one of the main reasons of our interest in Iraq is humanitarian. They are people of a region with which we were friends during a specific period of the history, but unfortunately, with which we were separated. As the state and the government, Turkey looks at Iraq issue in this way. Except this explanation, Turkey does not have any secret plan or intention about Iraq,'' he said.

''Turkey wants peace, tranquility and stability in this place. In this place, Turkey does not want any massacre similar to those happened in the Balkans, which would upset all of us. Actually, these constitute principles of the political deal we have reached with the United States. These have been mentioned in the written documents and confirmed mutually,'' he said.

Stressing that Turkey's existence in northern part of Iraq stemmed from humanitarian purposes and concerns about terrorism, Cicek said, ''he have explained this to the United States and also to other countries which are interested in the issue, and they understood us. We take our decision on our own regarding deployment of troops in Iraq in order to reach these goals. The talks with the United States on evaluation of the issue are under way in different levels. And Mr. Bush's advisor Mr. Khalilzad has arrived in Turkey in the morning.''

''Actually, Turkey is one of the countries in the coalition formed by the United States. As a result of this, planes which take off from foreign countries have been using our airspace since December 22. However, Turkey does not join the war actively. As an ally of the United States, Turkey has fulfilled its responsibilities by attributing maximum importance to this status and taking into consideration the point reached in talks. At this point, there is not any issue that may cause hesitation. As a result of this desire for cooperation and coordination, a coordination center was established in Silopi, and they have been working in cooperation including representatives of opposition elements in Iraq,'' he said.

''Consequently, Turkey has always attributed importance to friendship, alliance and cooperation and fulfilled requirements of these factors despite every difficulty. The self-sacrifices that Turkey made in the past and is making today proves this. Turkey does have the honor of being one of the few countries which proved its friendship in the world,'' Cicek added.


Cicek said that Turkey was a country which was facing trouble caused by war even if it did not enter the war.

Therefore, Cicek noted, economic developments were being closely followed by concerned departments and necessary measures were taken.

Cicek said, ''our government is exerting efforts to make Turkey stand on its own feet and continue development by realizing its own potential. The government has taken measures against every development. The prime minister stated how we approach to the issue in his message last night.''

Listing the decisions about economic issues, Cicek said, ''the 2003 fiscal year budget which will provide 6.5 percent primary surplus was passed from Planning and Budget Commission and is being discussed in the General Assembly currently. Arrangements have been made for 11.6 quadrillion Turkish lira (TL) part of the 15.8 quadrillion TL measures foreseen to reach the primary surplus target. We expect the legal arrangements on additional property and motorized vehicles tax worth of 1.8 quadrillion TL and direct tax reform which covers arrangements related with temporary corporation tax and exemption worth of 1 quadrillion TL to be passed from the Planning and Budget Commission this week.''

''We take necessary measures to meet the expenses that can come out due to war. We will block non-interest expenditure allowances by certain amount and we will save approximately 4 quadrillion liras. Finance Ministry will take various measures regarding the usage of allowances. We will implement a strict cash management which foresees payment of only wages, payments, defense expenditures and debts, which are obligatory payments. There won't be any tax amnesty. We will cancel the prime ministry circular on retirement of public employees dated 1996 and 2001 and executive boards will be authorized to solve the problem of retirement and redundant positions. The privatization plan of state-run Tobacco and Liquor Administration (TEKEL)will be submitted to the Privatization Higher Board to be approved. The government voices once again its belief in market mechanism. All the measures we will take to strengthen the economic programme will be within the market order,'' he added.


Cicek said that their move to take measures was in compliance with both national and international laws.

When a reporter said that he defined the regional countries as sisters but Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan defined AK Party government as U.S.-made in his statement on Sunday and asked about his views, Cicek said, ''I made a statement about people living in this region. We know under what conditions these people are making these statements. If something is to be said, the Foreign Ministry is making these evaluations every hour. The Foreign Ministry will make these statements from now on.''

Asked at what stage the talks were regarding entrance of Turkish soldiers in Northern Iraq and if there was a timetable, Cicek said that military authorities would make announcements about those issues.

Cicek said, ''it is very clear why we are there or will be there. We want to be there due to humanitarian reasons. 517 thousand people took shelter in Turkey during the First Gulf War. Therefore, Turkey doesn't want to experience the same trouble in its territory again. We want to ensure the security of people there and take measures against such developments beyond our borders if such a development is to take place. This is one of the reasons for our existence there.''

This was known by the whole world, Cicek stated. But, he said, some countries or people sometimes distorted the issue.

Cicek said, ''but our intention is very open and we are trying to express this to every country which is concerned with this issue.''

Noting that the second reason of Turkey's volition to exist in the region stemmed from the very serious acts of terrorism happened in the region due to authority vacuum after the First Gulf War, Cicek said that Turkey had lost more than thirty thousand people in those terrorist acts that happened due to authority vacuum in that region.

''We don't want to suffer any negative development again due to terrorism in this region, and we want to take necessary measures against it this very moment. What we are doing does have grounds in both national and international laws, and it is in line with the international laws. Except these, we do not have any secret plan and intention or colonialist mentality and target.''

Replying a question which said, ''you have said that you, on your own, were taking the decision on deployment of troops in northern Iraq. However, U.S. President Bush and highest-level officials clearly say that Turkey should not enter northern Iraq,'' Cicek said, ''what I meant to say that except the factors I have mentioned, we don't have any intention that may worry someone else or exceed the purposes. So nobody actually is not opposed to it under these purposes.''

Replying another question which said, ''Turkey opened its airspace to foreign planes. A dangerous incident happened in the evening near Sanliurfa yesterday. Will compensation of such possible incidents be in question in the future?'' Cicek said that military officials' investigation into the incident was under way, and results of the investigation would be publicly announced.

When asked whether the government would be obliged to take more measures, Cicek said that as a country in the region, Turkey wanted the war to finish as soon as possible.

Stressing that Turkey had not wanted to war to start, and the government had knocked on every door to this end, Cicek said, ''but securing peace reached a point that we couldn't prevent. At the moment, it is impossible to estimate when the war would end. However, we do what we can do to have the war finish as soon as possible.''

(BRC-MS-A) 24.03.2003


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