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Remarks Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit of Turkey and an Exchange With Reporters

September 28, 1999

The President. Let me say it's a great pleasure and an honor for me to welcome the Prime Minister here to the White House. I would like to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to Turkey for the outstanding leadership exhibited during the crisis in Kosovo and the role Turkey played working with our NATO Allies there.

But we have much to discuss today, including the progress in dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake; the improving relationships between Turkey and Greece and the European Union; questions involving Cyprus, human rights, economic reform, many other things. But this meeting is occurring in an atmosphere of hope and a positive atmosphere that recognizes not only our longtime strategic partnership with Turkey but recent developments and this Prime Minister's leadership, and I appreciate it very much.

Oil Pipeline in Turkey

Q. ——on the pipeline issue. Are you planning to help Turkey about that?

The President. Well, you know, we feel very strongly about the pipeline. We've made that very clear and unambiguous, and we will continue to support it.

Q. Are you going to give more aid?

The President. You had a question?

Cyprus

Q. Yes, Mr. President. What would you like to see from Turkey to see some progress in Cyprus? Do you need to see some movement from the Turkish side?

The President. Well, what we've been working for all along is the resumption of U.N.-sponsored talks without preconditions. And we hope that somehow we can find a way to get there.

Q. How about more aid?

Turkey and the European Union

Q. Mr. President, Washington watches very closely Turkey's relations with the EU, and from your perspective, what are the major obstacles barring Turkey from having better ties and full membership?

The President. Well, first of all, I believe that there has been some progress. There's been the change in attitude in some of the European capitals about Turkey's integration into EU. I think that the actions that have been taken to improve relations with Greece have helped. I think some of the actions on human rights have helped. And I think more movement in those directions will eventually get the results that Turkey wants.

You know, the United States—from the first day I got here as President, almost 7 years ago, I have strongly supported Turkey's integration into Europe, into the economic structures of the European Union as well as, obviously, in NATO and other networks. I think it's very, very important to the future of the world, particularly the critical part of the world that you occupy. But we have to make some progress on these other issues, and I think we're moving in the right direction.

Kosovo

Q. Mr. President, if the Kosovars opt for independence, will that be a betrayal of our reason for going in there? And are we supporting independence?

The President. Well, we have supported for Kosovar, and we continue to support—for Kosovo, excuse me—autonomy, which is now protected autonomy because of the conduct of the Serbs and the government of Mr. Milosevic. And that continues to be our position. We need to do our best to implement the agreements that we have made within the policy framework that both NATO and the United Nations have approved, and we intend to do that.

Press Secretary Joe Lockhart. Thank you very much, everyone.

The President. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:55 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit of Turkey and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/226513

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