Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 16, 2011. The Secretary and her counterpart discussed ways to strengthen the U.S.-Turkey alliance, and why the relationship is so important to both nations.
Secretary Clinton said, "Let me begin by once again offering our condolences for the loss of Turkish soldiers in Southeast Turkey. As I told the foreign minister and as I told President Gul last night and as I will repeat to the prime minister when I shortly see him, the United States stands with our ally, Turkey, against terrorism and threats to internal and regional stability. Our commitments to Turkey and its security is rock solid and unwavering.
"Two years ago in Ankara, President Obama pledged to renew the alliance between the United States and Turkey, and especially to focus on the friendship between the Turkish and American people. Today, we can say with confidence that our bonds are sound, our friendship is sure, and our alliance is strong. Our partnership is rooted in a long history and a very long list of mutual interests, but most importantly it is rooted in our common democratic values. It is through the lens of this shared democratic tradition that the United States welcomes Turkey's rise as an economic power, as a leader in the region and beyond, and as a valued ally on the most pressing global challenges.
"I'd like to say just a few words about the future of our relationship and why I believe it is so important to both our nations. First, on the economic front, because of the seriousness of the strategic issues we confront together, the economic dimensions of our relationship can too often be overlooked. But as President Gul and President Obama have affirmed, the growing economic cooperation between Turkey and America is providing new energy to us both. So far this year, trade between us is up more than 50 percent. That means more jobs and greater prosperity in both our countries. But we see even greater potential ahead and we are committed to furthering and expanding trade and investment. We are both entrepreneurial peoples, and the more we work together, the more creativity and talent we will unleash. So I am delighted that Turkey will host the second Global Entrepreneurship Summit here in Istanbul later this year, building on the progress that we made last year in Washington.
"There's also a chance to foster even closer ties between our people, our businesses, and our communities. For example, in the run-up to the summit, the public-private initiative called Partners for a New Beginning is working with the Coca-Cola Company, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, and other partners to offer Turkish women entrepreneurs new seed grants, training, and mentoring.
"Through our Global Entrepreneurship Program and other initiatives, we are working with Turkish high schools and universities to link the next generation of Turkish business leaders with young counterparts in the United States.
"Today, the foreign minister and I discussed additional ways we can further strengthen our ties. Turkey's upcoming constitutional reform process presents an opportunity to address concerns about recent restrictions that I heard about today from young Turks about the freedom of expression and religion, to bolster protections for minority rights, and advance the prospects for EU membership, which we wholly and enthusiastically support.
"We also hope that a process will include civil society and parties from across the political spectrum. And of course, I hope that sometime soon we can see the reopening of the Halki Seminary that highlights Turkey's strength of democracy and its leadership in a changing region.
"I think across the region, people from the Middle East and North Africa particularly are seeking to draw lessons from Turkey's experience. It is vital that they learn the lessons that Turkey has learned and is putting into practice every single day. Turkey's history serves as a reminder that democratic development depends on responsible leadership, and it's important that that responsible leadership help to mentor the next generation of leaders in these other countries.
"So I am excited that we are here and we have talked about all the issues that the foreign minister has mentioned, from, of course, the successful meeting of the Contact Group yesterday about Libya, the situation in Syria, what is happening in Afghanistan, where Turkish troops are training Afghan forces to take on their own security, and of course, our mutual efforts against violent extremism, against terrorists, including the PKK.
"So again, let me thank the foreign minister for his hospitality and for the breadth of our discussion. And it seems like our conversation never stops, Foreign Minister, so I look forward to the next chapter."
You can read the Secretary's complete remarks here.