Transcript: Interview with Turkey's Ambassador to the U.S.

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, February 27, 2003. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The Pentagon is growing inpatient after Turkey delayed a vote until Saturday on whether U.S. troops can launch a war into Iraq from its turf.  Joining us in Washington is the Turkish ambassador to the United States, O. Faruk Logoglu.

Welcome, Ambassador.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Ambassador, what's the vote going to be on Saturday?

LOGOGLU:  It's a difficult call, but I think the government, the prime minister and the chairman of the party, are really making their best effort to explain to the members of the ruling party that this is the choice to be made by the Turkish parliament, but...

VAN SUSTEREN:  Why is it difficult?  What's the -- what's the point that's giving the opposition a problem?

LOGOGLU:  There are several problems.  One is the state of public opinion.  More than 95 percent of the people are opposed to a war.  The second is a stipulation of the Turkish constitution which says you can only have foreign troops based in Turkey only if there is international legitimacy.  And the unclear situation in the Security Council is part of the problem.  And I guess the final point would be the bitter experiences of the Turkish people and the losses the Turkish economy suffered as a result of the Gulf war make a lot of people absolutely uncomfortable with the idea of a new war in Iraq.

LOGOGLU:  In terms of that, 1991 -- I think there were promises made by the United States government to Turkey.  And certainly, you suffered as a result of the Gulf war.  Has the United States, in those years since the Gulf war, made any effort to sort of repair, you know, that divide that was created?

LOGOGLU:  Certainly.  I think the U.S. has been very supportive of Turkey's economic needs, not specifically in the context of the losses suffered in the Gulf war, but the U.S. was our prime supporter in the last couple of years when Turkey faced virtually a meltdown, like Argentina.  But we came through, and that was because of U.S. support.

LOGOGLU:  Why is it -- why are so many people in Turkey opposed to the war?

LOGOGLU:  Again, the experiences of the Gulf War.  Because the economy shrank, a lot of people lost their jobs.  A lot of trade was lost with Iraq.  Iraq was...

VAN SUSTEREN:  But -- but is -- are the people concerned about Saddam in power?  I mean, does -- I mean, do the people in Turkey worry about Saddam?

LOGOGLU:  No.  No, that's not the concern.  I think most people probably have a rather low estimate of the kind of leadership that Saddam Hussein has shown in Iraq.  It is, first and foremost, concerns with the state of the economy of Turkey and, again, what might happen to Turkish economy if there is another war.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ambassador, in the event that there is -- or that Saddam is toppled, what is Turkey's intention vis-a-vis the Kurds in northern Iraq?  Does Turkey want to go in there?

LOGOGLU:  Turkey would be going in there, in coordination and cooperation with the United States and other members of the international coalition.  Our purpose is to be part of the coalition, but primarily to address the humanitarian issue.  Turkey is absolutely and unconditionally committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq.

VAN SUSTEREN:  So you have no -- I mean, because the Kurds think -- in northern Iraq, the Kurds are worried that your country's going to come in and take their land.


LOGOGLU:  That's an absolute no.  You're going to say right here...


VAN SUSTEREN:  ... so if the Kurds are thinking that tonight...

LOGOGLU:  I am on record.  I mean, you can take my word for it because we feel that keeping Iraq together is important not only for Iraq itself, for the people of Iraq, but for all of the neighbors of Iraq and for the region.  Any move in any other direction, dividing Iraq for this or that reason, would really spell grave, grave problems for all the neighbors of Iraq.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Do you worry that the Kurds who live in Turkey are going to see Saddam toppling as sort of an invitation to try to seek some sort of almost independence within Turkey?

LOGOGLU:  No.  I think we faced a terrorism problem in Turkey.  We have now contained it, basically.  We are now taking steps toward becoming a member of the European Union, and I think all citizens of Turkey are looking at Europe, living in a democratic state, that are taking new and more progressive steps as a member of the Western community, so...

VAN SUSTEREN:  You know, it's sort of interesting.  If Turkey turns down the United States on Saturday, you know, Turkey won't get the aid from the United States and won't be a launching pad for American troops, but you're still going to experience the economic problems from war because it still is going to hurt you.  You're still going to get Iraqis going over into your border.  You're going to have humanitarian problems, and you're going to still have huge tourism problems.  So what's the plus side for voting against the United States on Saturday?

LOGOGLU:  Well, this is a very good question.  And I think there are 550 members of the parliament, and everybody will have to answer this question for himself or for herself.  You are quite right.  No matter what happens, no matter what Turkey does, Turkey stands to suffer certain consequences.

And I think there is another point.  We are friends, partners and allies with the United States, and when the time comes to vote, I hope it will be the right decision.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, Ambassador.  Thank you very much for joining us this evening.

LOGOGLU:  Thank you.

Click here to order the entire transcript of the February 27 edition of On the Record.

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