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Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Erim of Turkey

March 21, 1972

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Erim, and our distinguished guests from Turkey and from the United States:

A few moments ago we heard the strains of "Around the World in 80 Days," and as we heard that song, I was reminded of how really small the world is and has become, and how fast events move. Exactly one month ago tonight, Mrs. Nixon, the Secretary of State, and I arrived in Peking and we were being received at a banquet in the Great Hall of the People by the Premier of the People's Republic of China.

Tonight, here in the White House, we honor the Prime Minister of Turkey.

In these two events, just one month apart, we see something which is very important for us always to remember, and that is that while a nation must always seek, as we seek, to have better relations with those who have been our adversaries, that we must never forget our friends, and tonight we honor true friends in honoring the Prime Minister, his wife, and our friends from Turkey.

Mr. Prime Minister, that friendship goes back, as you and I recalled in our discussions today, many years. I am reminded of the fact that this is also the month, 25 years ago, when, as a freshman Member of the Congress, along with one of our distinguished guests from the Congress, Senator Bentsen, he a Democrat, I a Republican, both voted for the Truman Doctrine--the Truman Doctrine for aid to Greece and Turkey. We voted for it, crossing party lines, because we knew what was involved was far more important than party; it involved the freedom that allows any parties to exist. And as we think back over those 25 years, we are grateful for the friendship that we have enjoyed, the alliance that we have had with Turkey through those years.

We realize that Turkey is a nation and a people which has had a long and proud history, and we realize that you, Mr. Prime Minister, are developing the programs that will build an even greater future.

But what is important is that you are attempting to build that future, despite great pressures that might be applied upon you, in the paths of independence and freedom, rather than succumbing to the great influences of dictatorship and oppression.

As I looked over the Prime Minister's background, I find that he and I have much in common. We were born in the same year, 191 3. We both studied the law and were relatively successful in that field. And as political men, we both have lost elections as well as won some.

But although we were born over 4,000 miles apart, in countries very different in background, we have something very much in common, as we knew from knowing each other's records and as we had firmly embedded in our minds by our conversations today. We are devoted to the same ideals.' We are devoted to peace in the world; we are devoted to the independence of nations; we are devoted to a system of government which provides a freedom of choice, a parliamentary system in your country and the system of government which we have here in the United States.

And it is these common ideals, even more important than the common interest that we have, that bring us together and that make us the close friends that we are. We are proud of the friendship that we have had with Turkey going back over those 25 years, and we know that the visit of the Prime Minister to our country, the talks that he will have at all levels with people in our Government, will contribute to a continuing close relationship, a relationship which is not based simply on the signing of a piece of paper, a treaty, whether it is in NATO or bilateral, but a relationship which is much deeper than that--a relationship based on Ideals that are immortal, ideals that we both believe in, that we both share, that we want for our own people in each country and for other people where they might have that opportunity, as well.

And so it is in that spirit that I know that everybody here, people who come from all over the United States as well as our friends from Turkey, people of both political parties in our country, of all walks of life, will want to join me in the toast that I will propose.

It will be, of course, to a continued friendship between our two peoples, to the progress and the prosperity of the people of Turkey, and particularly to the one who provides the progressive, enlightened, strong leadership in Turkey that all the world admires today, the Prime Minister of Turkey.

Note: The President spoke at 9:54 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. He spoke without referring to notes. See also Items 95 and 99.

The Prime Minister responded as follows:

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

I would like, first, to thank you, Mr. President, for your most friendly remarks. Your words set the tone not only for this exquisite function but also are indicative of the spirit in which our talks were held. As this memorable day ends, I can say without hesitation that the understanding between our two countries has been invigorated immensely. Turkey and America feel closer tonight.

Mr. President, I have arrived in the United States at a time when, under your leadership, the United States is exploring the possibilities for a global understanding among all nations of the world. We, in Turkey, greatly admire and fully support your endeavors. We pray that these efforts will be crowned with the success they deserve, and that the foundations of a new era of dignity and peace for all mankind will be solidly established.

Turkey also subscribes to the policy of easing tensions in Europe, as well as in other parts of the world. Coexistence with states having different social systems is not unattainable if each state behaves with good will, refraining from causing harm to the social fabric of the other, and respecting the sanctity of the line respectively limiting their area of action.

Mr. President, I hardly need to elaborate on the excellent and close relations our two countries have been fortunate enough to enjoy. The cornerstone of Turkey's post world war foreign policy has been solidarity with the United States of America and the Western World as a whole.

The Turkish people will never forget the support and friendship extended to them by the United States during the difficult period in their history immediately after World War II. I should like to renew our homage here to President Truman for his statesmanship in laying down the principles for a long-term and happy partnership between our two nations which eventually led to our participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization about exactly 20 years ago. We also remember that our cooperation within NATO was enhanced and enlarged during the following years, starting with the Presidency of the great soldier and statesman, General Dwight Eisenhower.

We are proud of the democratic institutions we have been able to guard in face of many difficulties and threats. The will of the Turkish people to uphold these institutions is unshakable. The Turkish people are endeavoring to achieve full economic and social development under a democratic system.

As you know, Mr. President, the primary objective of my Government is to speed up this long-sought social and economic advancement through the eradication of conditions causing instability while introducing new reforms inspired by the guidelines set forth by Kemal Ataturk. Turkey will succeed in her new strides which will strengthen her constitutional structure, while making it possible for its people to enjoy, without hindering, their freedoms. Our main strength is the resolve of our people dedicated to the preservation of both the independence and security of their country, as well as to their personal liberties under a stable parliamentary democracy.

Mr. President, it is with this confidence that I am approaching our problems back home and those relating to the international arena. Today, as I have briefly remarked a while ago, we are hopefully on the threshold of an era of understanding and accommodation which may lead to the termination of the era of mistrust. Your tireless endeavors to open the channels of communication and pull down the walls and bartiers of mistrust have undoubtedly been the major factor in bringing about this hope for a future in peace and dignity for all mankind.

We will contribute, to the best of our ability, to this praiseworthy cause. However, we continue to believe that unless we build from strength and credibility, our efforts will be fruitless and even self-destructive. Therefore, it is our firm belief that NATO should continue to be the cornerstone of any future structure for peace and security in the Western World, while sustaining the efforts for political unification for which Europe has been groping over many centuries.

We value our solidarity within NATO in the same measure that we value efforts for global detente, and we do not believe that one can be divorced from the other.

Mr. President, I appreciated your comments regarding Turkey's contribution to international efforts to eradicate the ills of drug abuse in the world. The humanitarian motive behind our plan of action, I hope, is well understood by the international community and will be matched and supported, in the same spirit, by their cooperative efforts.

Mr. President, next year, on October 29, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. This has been for us an eventful half-century. The striking fact is that, dedicated to the legacy of Kernel Ataturk, the founder of the Republic, we were able to give substance to his motto, "Peace at home, and peace in the world," which you so eloquently quoted today. However, neither our peace will be complete nor our joy full, if by then Cyprus will not have ceased to be a "problem" for the Turkish Community and for Turkey itself. Let us hope that common sense will prevail and a just and peaceful solution safeguarding the contractual rights and interests of all concerned will be found.

Let me express this final thought: Next year and the years and decades to come will find the peoples of Turkey and America proceeding together on the road to peace, in mutual respect, trust, and everlasting amity.

Ladies and gentlemen, will you rise with me in a toast to the President of the United States of America.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Erim of Turkey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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