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Remarks at the Departure Ceremony for Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel of Turkey

February 11, 1992

The President. Mr. Prime Minister, it's been a great pleasure to meet with a man whose career embodies a devotion to democracy and human rights. And seven times the people of Turkey have sent you to serve as Prime Minister, an office that you've served often with daring, always with dignity. And you've been a great European statesman. And you remain a spokesman for change.

No wonder you said when we met last summer, "I'm going to be Prime Minister." And your devotion to your people has been returned by their confidence in you. And for me, it was a pleasure to welcome you back to the Oval Office that you first visited 37 -- --

The Prime Minister. -- -- years ago.

The President. Thirty-seven or -- --

The Prime Minister. Yes, 37.

The President. Thirty-seven years ago when President Eisenhower was in that very special office.

Barbara and I will never forget our trip to Turkey last year. And I recall especially the magic of Istanbul, the minarets of the Blue Mosque, the splendor of the beautiful palace, the boats that graced the Straits of the Bosporus, the lights that lit up the Asian and European parts of the city, their skyline a lovely silhouette against the night. And I marveled at this country which spans two continents, just as the friendship between our countries spans two centuries.

Today, as the Prime Minister and I mapped our path toward the future, we spoke of friendship and how it nurtures the ties between our peoples. Perhaps Kemal Ataturk said it best: "Nations are bound more by sentiments than by treaties."

Turkey is indeed a friend, a partner of the United States. And it's also a model to others, especially those newly independent Republics of Central Asia. In a region of changing tides, it endures as a beacon of stability. And so, I repeat what I told the Prime Minister: The United States will support its friend in its territorial integrity, its sovereignty and stability, particularly in its war against terrorism.

And we're going to work together to fortify the enhanced partnership which both links and lifts our nations. The pillars included trade, diplomacy, NATO and CSCE membership, and a shared commitment to justice and human rights. And last year in the Gulf, in the Persian Gulf, we joined to face aggression and then faced aggression down. We're going to continue to work through the United Nations to see that all Iraqi citizens get the food and medicine they need and the peace and liberty they deserve in an Iraq free of Saddam's tyranny.

Today we spoke of a world reborn through the cold war's death, of the plight of the new Republics emerging from the old Soviet Union. Already, Turkey and the United States have joined hands to feed mouths, rushing goods through Project Hope to needy friends in the Caucasus and Central Asia. I wish to announce that our Governments will expand that cooperation in these new Republics. We will seek new ways to help our new friends secure their independence and move quickly and peacefully to establish ties with the West.

Mr. Prime Minister, you once said, "Every question will be answered; discussion will be open and free." And in that spirit, we spoke of Turkey's importance to Europe, and I applauded your Government's commitment to improve relations with Greece. The Prime Minister and I did talk about the Cyprus problem. We share the objective of early negotiated settlement which will be both just and lasting. And we agreed to give full support to the good offices mission of the United Nations Secretary-General and to work with the other parties toward an agreement.

In closing, we've agreed to stay in touch personally and officially at many levels of our Governments. And we leave with the faith that our talks have covered much ground, charted new horizons.

The road toward progress may at times be difficult. It need not be lonely. An old Turkish proverb reminds us, "A long journey is shortened by good companions." So Mr. Prime Minister, let us make that journey together, as we have before and as we will again. And may God bless the peoples of Turkey and the United States of America.

Note: The President spoke at 1:30 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Kemal Ataturk, founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey.

George Bush, Remarks at the Departure Ceremony for Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel of Turkey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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