May 2, 2007
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN TOM CASEY SPEAKS UP AGAINST MILITARY INTERFERENCE IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS
QUESTION: United States supports Turkish democracy, there are a lot of statements on that -- a few statements, I mean. My question is about that: How has U.S. support Turkish democracy? What does support mean? How does support Turkish democracy?
MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, I don't think the United States needs to be dictating to Turkey how its own internal politics should work, but it means exactly that. Turkey is a friend and NATO ally. We fully support the right of the Turkish people to determine who their leaders are going to be. We certainly reject any kind of external interference into Turkish domestic political affairs and we certainly also wish to see, just as the Prime Minister said the other day, that the Turkish people should be able to decide through the ballot box who their leaders are going to be and who's going to be in charge.
QUESTION: May I follow?
MR. CASEY: Hold on, Mr. Lambros. Don't jump out of your seat quite yet.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. CASEY: Okay, I'll let him follow up, since he asked the question, and then you can follow up on his follow-up.
QUESTION: Yes, yes, yes. On the same subject.
QUESTION: Okay. Is there any change on other issues such as committing PKK terrorism, Kirkuk and murder in Iraq?
MR. CASEY: Well no, our positions on those issues remain the same. Certainly we want to work with Turkey and the Government of Iraq to try and combat the threat that's posed from the PKK. I think you heard a little bit from some of our briefers earlier in the week about that subject. I know General Ralston continues his mission and continues his contacts both with Turkish and with Iraqi officials, but we remain fully committed to working with the Turkish Government and the Iraqis to deal with that problem. On Kirkuk, I think you've heard our answer on that one before and I just refer you backto what we said previously.
QUESTION: Follow up on Turkey. Mr. Casey, the late popular Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou said, "Democracy in Greece at the gun point" by U.S.-supported dictator Colonel George Papadopoulos. The popular Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said yesterday, "Today democracy in Turkey has been shot with a bullet" by the dictator today, General Yasar Buyukanit, but so far, I know who is behind. Question: Are you really concerned, Mr. Casey, about democracy in Turkey, which has been brutalized by the Turkish generals?
MR. CASEY: Well, thank you for that trip down memory lane, Mr. Lambros, but --
MR. CASEY: Look, I think the Secretary made clear in the remarks she made to the traveling press on her trip what our position is. I've stated it here again. I think you heard it from Sean the other day. We believe that a free and democratic Turkey in which the Turkish people decide for themselves who their leaders are is critical for that country. It is critical for Europe, and it's critical for the world and we will continue to support and call for respect for the constitutional order and democratic process in that country.
QUESTION: One more for the Army. A leading editorial of Washington Post, Mr. Casey, wrote yesterday "that Bush Administration quietly asked the Turkish Army to remain in its barracks" where they belong and leave the politicians alone. Do you agree as the Department of State?
MR. CASEY: Do I agree with The Washington Post editorial? Well --
QUESTION: Do you agree with the (inaudible) in common politics --
MR. CASEY: Well, since I did see -- since I did happen to see the members of the --
QUESTION: -- vote in internal politics?
MR. CASEY: Well, since I did happen to see the members of the editorial board of the Post earlier today, I certainly wouldn't want to say anything to offend them. But Mr. Lambros, U.S. policy is U.S. policy. It's quite clear we support the democratic order in Turkey. We wish to see the constitution, the ballot box rule in Turkey. And I think the Secretary and everyone else has made that quite clear. Certainly we don't want the military or anyone else interfering in the constitutional process or doing anything in an extra constitutional way.
QUESTION: Thank God.