Updated: 28-Jun-2004 NATO Speeches

Istanbul, Turkey

28 June 2004


H.E. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of the Republic of Turkey
Inauguration of the NATO Istanbul Summit

NATO Istanbul Summit

Mr. Secretary General,
Honourable Heads of State and Government,
Dignitaries of Allied Countries,
Distinguished Members of the Press,

At the outset, I would like to express our distinct pride and joy in hosting this Summit meeting, which, I am sure, will be remembered as a mile-stone in the history of NATO and the integration process of Europe. Welcome to Turkey, welcome to Istanbul.

NATO’s enlargement, which has been crowned by the membership of seven new members has brought us further closer to the goal of an integrated, peaceful and secure Europe. I would like to pay special tribute to the Heads of State and Government of our new Allies and congratulate them on their membership to NATO.

Istanbul is a city that boasts a unique geographical characteristic and has played host to numerous distinct cultures, faiths and civilizations. As such, it constitutes a center of gravity throughout the Euro-Atlantic area. Holding such a Summit in this unique city is certainly a pleasant and meaningful twist of history.

The gathering here today of 26 countries, all unified around the same values, is a beacon of light cast into the future and upon the whole world. NATO is not simply a political and military Alliance. It constitutes a center of attraction for many countries in the Euro-Atlantic zone and its military and political effectiveness stems from its particular nature.

We strongly believe that NATO, which is rightly referred to as the most successful defence Alliance in history, will be ever more successful in the period ahead, with the additional strength and confidence it has gained through enlargement and its new members. As a reflection of this, today in Istanbul, we bear witness to a sound common vision for the future. NATO successfully continues its enlargement and transformation, and at the same time, extends a hand of strategic partnership to neighboring regions and thereby assumes its role as the guarantor of global peace and security.

Turkey is proud to have been a member of this Alliance for over five decades. We will continue to give due priority to the Alliance’s interests and objectives while conducting our foreign and security policies, as has been the case in the past. We are cognizant of the fact that, in an era of multi-directional threat and opportunity perceptions, Turkey rests at the epicenter of the current international security environment. Its policies and initiatives are of increasingly strategic relevance for NATO, as well as for the broader international community. As such, and with a sober recognition of this responsibility, Turkey will continue to make an effective contribution to our common vision.

With these thoughts, let me once again welcome you all, and extend to you my wishes for a successful and fruitful meeting.

Thank you.


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