Minister Davutoglu - dear Ahmet, thank you very much for that very kind introduction.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great pleasure to be here today on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Turkey’s membership of the NATO Alliance. I have been looking very much forward to visiting Turkey today, and before proceeding I have to apologize that due to weather conditions I will have to leave immediately after my statement. But it is important for me to be here and tell you how much we appreciate Turkey’s contribution to our Alliance.
Turkey has been a vital member of NATO for 60 years. Many things have changed in that time. But our commitment to each other has not.
Turkey plays an important role in our operations and we are particularly grateful for your steadfast commitment to our ISAF operation.
Turkey has an important voice in our decisions. And Turkey has a vital part to play in shaping our partnerships. Together, we are the most successful military Alliance in the world.
So Turkey has done very much for NATO. It has shown its commitment to stability, security and solidarity time and time again.
But NATO has also done a lot and does a lot for Turkey. Let me highlight just three of those benefits.
First, Article 5. NATO’s founding treaty is still the world’s most powerful insurance policy. Its collective defence clause means you have 27 Allies ready, and willing, to help defend you. That was true when you stood on the cold war flank of the Alliance. It is just as true today.
Second, the very existence of our Alliance sends a strong signal of solidarity. Any aggressor would think long and hard before upsetting your own stability and security. Because they know that to threaten one Ally is to threaten them all. By being a member of NATO, you benefit not just from your own contributions, but you benefit from other Allies’ contributions too. So the security each Ally gets out, is about more than just the security you contribute.
And finally, consultation. NATO remains the only structured forum that brings together North America and Europe. It is a dynamic and unique forum for Allied consultations on both the political and the military dimensions of security. All decisions are taken by consensus. So Turkey’s voice matters. When your country speaks, its views are heard across all Allied capitals. And when NATO meets with its partners, Turkey’s views are heard across the world – from Stockholm to Sydney and from Algiers to Astana.
For sixty years, Turkey has been a part of the transatlantic family. Turkey gains what all the family members gain – not just the promotion of our interests, but also the protection of our values.
We believe in freedom.
We believe in democracy.
And we believe that the human desire for both will prevail against repression and dictatorship.
We saw this in Tunisia. We saw this in Egypt. And we saw this in Libya.
We are also seeing this today in Syria. I welcome Turkey’s efforts to bring a peaceful resolution to this crisis. And I agree with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, that the only way forward in Syria, as everywhere else, is to satisfy the democratic aspirations of the people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have been NATO Secretary General for two and a half years now. During that time, I have greatly valued Turkey’s role in the Alliance. And I believe that, as the Arab Spring unfolds, continued Turkish leadership will be crucial for a peaceful future.
Many choose to focus on the short-term problems of the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. I choose to focus on the long-term opportunities. And I believe we should seize them with both hands.
So that we keep alive the dream of freedom, security, and stability. And open a new era of cooperation between NATO, Turkey, and countries in this region.
Turkey brings together East and West, North and South. Its strong heart beats where Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean all meet. And that is a great advantage, for Turkey, and for us all.
Thank you very much.