Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and President Sunay of Turkey

April 03, 1967

Mr. President, Mrs. Sunay, distinguished guests:

This house is honored tonight by a distinguished visitor from a very famous land. A bridge between two continents, Turkey had become a melting pot of races long before the first explorers ever reached our shores. Great empires, which have left their stamp on history, have risen and fallen in this land. Its people have contributed profoundly to the arts of civilization.

But nothing in Turkey's ancient past surpasses its modern achievements.

When this century was still young, from the ashes of an empire a great new Turkish nation was formed. The remarkable energy, vision, and wisdom of a great leader, Kemal Ataturk, set his people on the path of 20th century accomplishment.

A great philosopher once said that the creator of a commonwealth must toll in one century for the benefits that his descendants will reap in the next.

Turkey has proved that we need not always wait so long. The Turkish people today are already enjoying many of the fruits of their own efforts.

They have joined the mainstream of economic progress. They are shaping events rather than being shaped by them. Their borders are secure, their democratic institutions are strong.

But, Mr. President, as the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out."

Mr. President, our countries are different in many ways. But I think we can both be proud that they turn out men that have much in common.

Americans and Turks--alike--are devoted to social justice, to the preservation of freedom, to democracy. Our peoples--alike--seek personal participation in the affairs of their government. Americans and Turks--alike--desire greater educational opportunities for their children, for we realize that the future belongs not to us, but to them.

Americans and Turks--alike--are seekers after a world that is free of war and strife-and a world where each of us, to the limits of his capacity, can pursue excellence.

Mr. President, your life has been spent in dedicated service to your countrymen, first as a soldier, now as President of the Republic, always as a faithful servant of your people. There is no higher dedication.

On this occasion tonight I cannot help but reminisce.

This is the anniversary of the Truman Doctrine. Twenty years ago, when President Truman called upon the American people to rally in defense of the freedom of Greece and Turkey, there was a great deal of criticism in this land about that decision.

Mr. Truman was accused of arrogance, of wanting to play "world policeman." In the words of one commentator, who is still with us, the Truman Doctrine was a disastrous entanglement in an anti-Communist crusade which could only lead to a much wider war.

Some of us refused to believe this. Indeed, one of the proud moments of my life was on May 7, 1947, when I rose in the House to support President Truman and his supposedly "disastrous" policy of containment.

In voting for aid to Greece and Turkey, I said on that day, "I do so with the hope that Russia has peaceful intentions; that she desires to live at peace with other nations; that she will cooperate in the restoration of a wartorn world; but, if it be otherwise, then I am certain as I stand here that the passage of this measure is the only course that this country can in decency take, and the only course which may avoid war."

Tonight, as we meet here in the White House, Greece and Turkey--and Korea-are taken for granted as dynamic, freedom loving nations. And I hazard the guess that in 20 years the Republic of Vietnam will similarly be taken for granted.

These things have been accomplished because the United States of America and its allies throughout the world have stood firm before the tide of aggression--and the tide has receded. And among those who unflinchingly confronted the risks and obligations, there has been--and, I think, always will be, Mr. President--a very special bond of fellowship.

We have a unique tie. For two decades our peoples have shared a vigil beside the gates of freedom--not for ourselves, but for the entire fellowship of free men; the weak as well as the strong; the timid and the meek as well as the brave. The graves of brave Americans and brave Turks in the hills of Korea tonight are an eternal testament to our comradeship.

We honor this great common tradition tonight, as we honor you. May it grow and prosper in the years ahead, as new generations, inspired by common ideals, make freedom, justice, and progress their common cause, as it has been ours.

Ladies and gentlemen, I should like to ask you to join me in a toast to the people of the Republic of Turkey and to their President, Cevdet Sunay.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 9:57 p.m. at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Cevdet Sunay responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen:

I am deeply moved by your warm and cordial welcome. I would like to express to you on my behalf and on behalf of my wife our sincere thanks for your kind words about us and for the gracious hospitality we have received here in Washington.

I have been to Washington several times before, but this time I have the great privilege, as President of the Republic of Turkey, of being here as your guest.

I am particularly happy to be surrounded here tonight by so many distinguished Americans, many of whom I had the pleasure of meeting earlier.

I think, Mr. President, that my visit is timely, not that there are any unresolved problems between our countries but because for more than a decade a Turkish President has not visited the United States and because, this year, as you have mentioned, we are celebrating the Truman Doctrine which constitutes a landmark in the history of Turkish-American relations.

It is proper that on this occasion I pay a warm tribute to President Truman for his farsightedness and wisdom in laying down the basis of a policy which culminated later on in the signing of the Atlantic Alliance.

President Eisenhower, whom we remember with respect and admiration as a great soldier and a great statesman, and whom I had the honor of meeting personally, also visited us in Turkey in 1959.

Mr. President, in 1962 we had the privilege of welcoming you and your charming wife. I have a very vivid recollection of this visit and of the spontaneous demonstration of friendship and esteem with which you were greeted wherever you went in Turkey.

I am referring to these events to illustrate the closeness of our relations and the depth of our friendship.

We have in Turkey a profound admiration for the great American democracy from which all struggles for freedom have drawn such inspiration.

I know, Mr. President, that you know how much the Turkish nation is resolute in its unflinching adherence to the ideals of individual and political freedom. We are proud, in Turkey, of the strength and vitality of our democratic institutions.

It is within the framework of liberty and democracy that the Turkish nation also undertook the difficult task of insuring rapid economic growth and social progress. In this field also we feel encouraged by our recent progress.

The rate of our economic growth is not far behind the target set for us by the five-year development plan and there is strong hope that this rate may be increased in future years.

We are in need of foreign economic aid to attain our target at the present, but our intention is not to rely indefinitely on the inflow of such assistance.

Our goal is, on the contrary, to use our internal and external resources as effectively as possible in order to reach the stage of self-sustaining growth during our third five-year development plan.

Mr. President, great changes have occurred in the international field over the last 20 years. Europe, which was, for the most part, desolate in the aftermath of a tragic war, has now reached behind the shield of NATO a peace of stability, prosperity, and progress never attained before in all its history.

Vast areas in Asia and Africa have entered the cause of freedom, independence, and technical progress.

In recent times we have also observed and shared hopes for a detente in East-West relations.

The valuable objective of building and maintaining bridges of contact between the West and the East, which I know, Mr. President, you attach special importance to, is a further indication that progress has been made in this direction.

Any decrease in international tension and any progress towards a stable peace and greater international cooperation is, of course, of deep satisfaction to the people and Government of my country.

Indeed, Turkey is not failing to bring fully its contribution to this end in its international relationships. But as long as peace does not rest on solid foundations, insuring effectively the security of each nation, we cannot afford to relinquish our individual and collective strength.

NATO remains, therefore, in our view, an essential element of peace and security.

NATO is even more than that. It is, we believe, the instrument of the close partnership in which we can cooperate to an ever-growing extent for reinforcing peace and enhancing international cooperation.

Mr. President, we are grateful to the United States for the military and economic aid extended to Turkey since the inception of the Truman doctrine. This aid has contributed greatly to the strengthening of our defensive capability and furthering our economic development.

But I am convinced, Mr. President, that you Would agree with me that this assistance is serving our common interests.

To safeguard her own security and to contribute to the mutual defense effort of the free world Turkey is indeed under a heavy defense burden. On the other hand, a strong, vigorous, and developing Turkey is certainly to the best interests of the free world. We value deeply in Turkey our partnership, our friendship, and our alliance with the United States.

No relationship can flourish if it is not based on mutual respect, equality, and confidence.

I am certain that our two governments will develop their close associations in that spirit.

We can only regret that we continue to be involved in an unfortunate dispute in our area. You know how much effort we spent to solve this problem peacefully in a way to safeguard the legitimate interests of the parties concerned.

We will continue on this path, but at the same time we are determined not to permit or tolerate any attempt to impose a unilateral solution or any pressure to that end.

Mr. President, in closing my remarks I would like to say how happy we are in Turkey to have as your representative a distinguished and most capable diplomat--Ambassador Parker Hart. His contribution to Turkey-American understanding and cooperation has been invaluable.

I invite you, ladies and gentlemen, to join me in drinking a toast to the health of the President of the United States of America and the people of the United States of America.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and President Sunay of Turkey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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