April 29, 2017
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Atlantic Council's Istanbul Summit
Istanbul Summit 2017
Keynote Address by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
President and CEO,
Stephen J. Hadley,
Executive Vice Chair,
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources,
Republic of Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,
Republic of Turkey
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Date: Friday, April 28, 2017
ANNOUNCER: Distinguished president, esteemed guests, welcome all to Atlantic Council’s Istanbul Summit 2017. Please welcome to the stage Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe.
FREDERICK KEMPE: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome, and thank you for joining us.
Mr. President, Mr. Minister, it’s such an honor to welcome you both here, back to the Istanbul Summit, the seventh annual in Istanbul.
It is my pleasure – it is my pleasure to welcome the stage Atlantic Council executive vice chair, former national security advisor, and one of the most thoughtful policy and strategy leaders out there, Steve Hadley. He embodies so much of what the Atlantic Council is about: integrity, purposeful, international, strategic, bipartisan. He’s been at the forefront of the Council’s efforts in Turkey, most recently with General Jim Jones leading a bipartisan Atlantic Council delegation when we had the privilege of meeting with President Erdoğan, Minister Albayrak, and others within the government.
Thank you, Steve, for joining us in Istanbul to lead our Board delegation. And on behalf of our chairman, Jon Huntsman, the floor is yours. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Please welcome to the stage Executive Vice Chair of the Atlantic Council Stephen Hadley.
STEPHEN J. HADLEY: Good morning, welcome, and thank you all for being here.
We are privileged to be joined this morning by the president of Turkey, His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. President Erdoğan will give a special presidential keynote address alongside Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources His Excellency Berat Albayrak.
President Erdoğan was elected in August of 2014. He is the first president to be elected by popular vote in the history of the Turkish Republic. Prior to his presidency, President Erdoğan spearheaded crucial reforms for Turkey as its prime minister, overseeing the country’s dramatic economic growth. Prior to assuming his national leadership roles, President Erdoğan served as the mayor of magnificent Istanbul, where he was born and raised.
Mr. President, thank you for hosting us here in your hometown, which uniquely brims with culture, life and history.
We gather here today amid unprecedented global turbulence. From Brexit to the French elections, 2016 was riven with shocks coupled with geopolitical consequences of historic proportions. We know full well that 2016 was a particularly difficult year for Turkey. We were terribly shaken and saddened by the July 15 coup attempt against Turkish democracy. I was humbled when, as part of an Atlantic Council delegation in January, we had a chance to visit the National Assembly in Ankara, which was tragically and inexcusably attacked during the coup attempt. On behalf of the Board and members of the Atlantic Council, we strongly condemned this attack on Turkish freedom and democracy. We offered our deepest condolences to the victims. We stand with Turkey in its commitment to democratic governance. It is our hope that the country will emerge more united and move forward.
In these testing times, the region and the world need a robust, vibrant, and democratic Turkey that respects human rights and the rule of law. And the United States and Europe need Turkey as a strong ally in confronting the challenges we all face.
In just a moment, I will turn the stage over to Minister Albayrak, who will say a few words before President Erdoğan takes the podium. Since Minister Albayrak’s 2015 appointment, Turkey has assumed a leading role on the global energy stage. Minister Albayrak has played a pivotal role in this transformation, and has deftly spearheaded Turkey’s engagement on energy matters with partners at home and across the region. Minister Albayrak has been a key supporter of our summit, and we are grateful for his continued support.
Mr. President, Mr. Minister, it is our honor to welcome you to the 8th Annual Istanbul Summit, and build on the rich tradition of dialogue and engagement which we have built together in this beautiful city. We look forward very much to hearing your remarks. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Turkey’s minister of energy and natural resources, Mr. Berat Albayrak.
(Note: Minister Albayrak’s remarks are made through an interpreter.)
MINISTER BERAT ALBAYRAK: Distinguished President, Distinguished President and CEO of Atlantic Council, esteemed members of the Board at Atlantic Council, esteemed guests coming from international sectors starting with the energy sector, opinion leaders, I would like to welcome you all to the 8th Istanbul Summit, which has long become a tradition. Welcome, all.
Atlantic Council is extremely important, especially regarding politics in Turkey, in the region, and in the globe. It has an important presence.
Both our region and global energy and security are extremely important, and we also know that security policies all over the world are being questioned and are being analyzed. And, of course, all of these play a critical role in Turkey-U.S. relationship. Just like it was the case at the previous summits and previous conferences, this will continue to be the case. This relationship – this strategic partnership – will be elevated to a higher level. And in order to ensure that, we of course have to contribute to this process. We all have a task to fulfill.
We, as Turkey, would like to continue contributing to global stability – peace and stability. We have been paying a price, a high price, in order to achieve stability and peace, and we continue to achieve this. Especially as of 16th of April and onwards for regional and global peace and stability, we are facing with a brand-new era. And as we are to establish this, we know that stability is key and stability is the number one priority, especially for this very region. Turkey is now at a threshold and taking steps towards this direction. It is a brand-new era.
Like it was the case in the past, with a growing economy, with stability, Turkey will continue to play an important role in this context. Global energy trends are going through transformation. Supply and demand balance is also going through a change. LNG markets and infrastructures are also going through a change. Sixty percent – more than 60 percent of the reserves are located in this geography, and we have to ensure that the relationship is in a win-win manner and is also based on trust.
And we, as Turkey, have been executing this policy, and we will continue to elevate and leverage this policy, not only with a growing economy but also with other activities. Most of you know this already. In the last 15 years, it has been a success story, with 5 percent economic growth. And with increasing demand of electricity among all the OECD countries, we have been undertaking activities with a very busy schedule – an agenda, rather. And we, as Turkey, are contributing the most in this region. As we have done so, we will continue to do it even in a stronger manner in this new era. Turkey will continue to support this.
And for that, when we think about global energy trends, we have to consider reinforcement of LNG infrastructure in addition to the gas infrastructure. Mr. Hadley touched upon a very important point, and I’d like to thank you for that. We are at the beginning of that route. We will continue to take even more important steps.
In order to accomplish 2023 objectives of Turkey, gas storage capacity is going to be taken up to 11 billion cubic meters before 2023. And capacity will be taken up to 410 million cubic meters. We have eight pipelines currently with international partnerships. TANAP, as you know, is also underway, and is going to be finalized as of next year. There is yet another one. This is the Turkish Stream, and this is going to be completed hopefully by 2020. In addition to that, for the Eastern Mediterranean gas, we still continue with talks, and TANT (ph) pipeline is going to be initiated in order to ensure supply and demand security for the West and for the alternative markets on a global basis. We will continue to work hard in order to include yet another pipeline, which will be the TANT (ph) one.
Turkey owes her success to many things, but the most important factor of success, as I’ve told you at the beginning, is because of the political will, which is a strong one. So taking this as the starting point, not only the gas markets but also conventional energy resources, renewable energy resources, for the first time in her history, Turkey has increased her share in renewables by 50 percent, and share in the portfolio has become one-third of the total portfolio. This is not enough, we said, so in order to have a win-win situation we also invited international investors and we have started taking steps for wind and solar energy.
Last month, for solar energy, for the photovoltaic – installed photovoltaic capacity and the solar energy field, we have taken some steps for an investment in order to reduce the energy expenses by one-third. We have initiated a very successful model.
The second one is going to be in July. The biggest wind energy producer, with the participation of the leading wind-energy producers, portfolio of 1,000 megawatts will be initiated in this ecosystem. Hopefully they will be included in our sector, and they will be also included in the gain.
Turkey and similar emerging countries have to ensure that there is diversification of energy resources, and nuclear energy is always an alternative. So we will continue investing in nuclear energy, as well, as fast as we can.
So, within this framework, we have three pillars in this framework, and each project that we have, we always have the mission to be a partner in these projects. This is, of course, always for the benefit of parties, and we also have to ensure that this is a win-win situation. And secondly, for supply and demand security of the region, we always have to prioritize contributing to projects in order to ensure supply and demand security. And we also have to ensure that projects contribute to peace and stability in our region. So, in order to achieve these goals and these missions, we will continue to be a partner in these projects.
In light of all these developments, especially in this new era, rational, logical, win-win partners will ensure that our region becomes more stable, peaceful, and that this will have its reflections on the rest of the world. We will continue to work even harder in the upcoming term.
So, starting with Atlantic Council Board and executives, we also have to make sure that all related parties have an important task to achieve. As we enter into a new era, into a new century, the world needs security and safety and conscience more than ever. So, in this picture, we as Turkey, we will continue with our consistent policies and political activities.
So I would like to end my words by referring to the summit that will be realized between the dates July 9 and 13th – the 9th and 13th of July, 2017. This is going to be an oil summit realized in Istanbul. This will enable participants, establish networks, as well as enjoying the beauties of this great city. I would like to kindly invite you all to the summit in July.
I would like to once again extend my thanks to this great program. Atlantic Council is actually exceeding more and more every year, so I’d like to thank each and every one of you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Now I would like to invite His Excellency the President of the Republic of Turkey Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the floor to deliver his speech.
(Note: President Erdoğan’s remarks are made through an interpreter.)
PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN: Esteemed ministers, dear participants, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to greet you all with my deepest regards.
We are here at a city that brings together continents and civilizations. Welcome to our beautiful Istanbul.
This event is being organized for the eighth time by the Atlantic Council, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for participating at this event on behalf of myself and my nation.
And this is a great opportunity because this conference brings together an august crowd, and I feel privileged to be here with you and to have the chance to get together with you here today. And I hope and pray that this summit will bring auspicious results for our countries and for humanity at large.
Now, the main theme of this year’s summit is transatlantic cooperation and engagement, and strengthening transatlantic engagement in a turbulent region. And I believe that this is quite a timely and quite a meaningful theme. We are here to discuss ideas, put forth suggestions, and also hear from many different speakers. And I’d like to again take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to everyone who is going to speak at this event.
Dear guests, as you very well know, our world is going through turbulent times, and we are facing several different challenges and uncertainties. And it is very difficult to predict the future and make projections into the future. I believe that we all find this difficult. Especially in the last couple of years, we have been experiencing a lot of problems. But sadly, we see a lack of determination across the world to tackle these issues, and this further increases our concerns about the future.
When you look at the geography where Turkey is located, you see many things happening that impact us negatively. And sadly, we do not see a lot to tackle these challenges. The European Union or the Security Council of the United Nations, the reputation of these institutions are actually being undermined because only a couple of countries call the shots, and they try to always put forth their own interests. And there is a need all across the world for change, but sadly we haven’t been able to respond to that need for change.
After the Second World War, these institutions were established. And after the Cold War, these institutions still continue to exist. But there are some countries who derive benefits, personal benefits, from these international mechanisms. There are certain truths that we need to be honest about. Either we are going to change the format of the existing mechanisms, or we are going to yield to the virus of pessimism and be even beset by this virus. Either we are going to lend a listening ear to new actors, rising actors, or we are going to be resuscitated by this artificial system. Either we are going to manage the bottom-up wind for change, or we are going to do nothing and wait for it to turn into a tempest and destroy us. So the options that are in front of us are quite clear.
Without a doubt, we have the power to turn this negative picture into an opportunity. We have the opportunity to turn this crisis into an opportunity. Instead of destructive competition, let’s put the emphasis on solidarity and cooperation, and let us replace tension with reconciliation. Because if we do that, I think we are going to bring in a new era across the world. No matter how far we are, we should all be – we should all be concerned about problems that are going on elsewhere because we are not exempt from these problems and these challenges.
I would like to also take this opportunity to share with you something that happened yesterday to express the things that we have achieved. We also – what happened in Macedonia yesterday. In the country right after the elections, several incidents broke out, and these give us every cause for concern because violence is never going to be the panacea to solve problems. And again, taking this opportunity, I would like to offer my best regards and best wishes to those who were affected by the incidents, and the Turkish community in Macedonia I would like to call out to them and ask them to continue their prudent stance.
Macedonia is a brotherly nation for us and we hope that they’re going to acquire stability as soon as possible. All the political parties in the country should focus on dialogue and find solutions to their problems. As Turkey, we have deep ties with these brothers in this region and we are committed to working for their prosperous future. We will continue to cooperate with them so that they can build prosperous futures for themselves.
This actually tells us something else. If we believe in democracy, if we believe that democracy is all about accepting the results that come out of the ballot boxes, then whether we like the result or not, we need to recognize the fact that there are always going to be winners and losers after an election.
So those who lose should also appreciate the ones who win and should be respectful towards them so that the peace of the country is not tarnished, and this is something that I would like to especially underscore because we are all affected by the developments that take place, be they negative or positive.
Without joining hands, without acting with the responsibility of – our sense of responsibility, we will not be able to solve our problems. Let us take a look at southeastern Asia or Africa or the Middle East and we are actually feeling the reflections of all these events. The crisis in Syria triggered a mass immigration – flow of mass immigration and this is affecting the entire region, not just our country, and also the entire world.
Cybersecurity, climate change, discrimination, food safety, security, xenophobia, Islamophobia are the new threats that are rearing their ugly heads and we are now being challenged and tested by these – by these incidents. Ballistic missile tests and the drought in the African Horn are also threatening international safety and stability.
An unjust system cannot be sustained and if the system is based only on the strong and disrespects the weak, then stability and peace will not prevail in the world. Let’s put our hands on our hearts and answer the following questions honestly. If the Security Council of the United Nations and other international institutions – if they had exhibited a more prudent approach vis-à-vis Syria, would the picture be as it is right now?
We are seeing chemical weapon attacks right now and conventional weapon attacks instigated by the regime. We are seeing a lot of oppression going on in the region, and this is something that I have been saying for the last six years. I think international community needs to take a stronger stance at G-20 summits, other international meetings. I’ve always voiced this opinion, but so far, sadly, no one has listened to my – to these sentiments because the Assad regime has been massacring its own people and they can still continue to do that because they have got away with what they did in the past as well.
I have a difficult time understanding state terror. This is the most awful manifestation of state terrorism, what we see in Syria. Assad is a killer and he’s wreaking havoc in his country, and if we are against state terror then we need to, first of all, stand against Assad and Syria, and also the international community needs to be taking the necessary steps in a determined fashion.
If we had done that previously, then 1 million people would not have lost their lives and 3 million Syrians would not have had to cross the border to Turkey, to my country – 1.5 (million) people had to seek refuge in Lebanon. One million people, likewise, had to flee to Jordan.
But these people have now been kicked out of their own country and they are living in other countries, trying to start a new life for themselves in tents, in containers, in makeshift camps. And this does not absolve our humanitarian responsibilities. So let us take ownership of this humanitarian responsibility, and let us do what we need to do.
As for foreign terrorist fighters, if we had had a better cooperation between ourselves, then the Brussels attacks would not have taken place last year. If we had not discriminated against terrorist organizations, would these terrorist organizations have thrived so much in 2011?
There was a drought in Somalia and the international community did not really lend a helping hand there, unlike Turkey, and millions of people would not be suffering today if that had been the case. Actually, we all know about the answers to these questions. We’re talking about our safety, our security, our future, and we are troubled by all these great challenges and, sadly, we see a lot of double standards around the world. And I believe that you are also bothered by this as much as I am bothered by this, double standards.
And the one thing that we need to do is quite apparent. Either we are going to find a path or we are going to pave the way – pave a new way. There is no other way out. Yes, the challenges are tremendous but we should not despair. We should not just take things for granted. We should be courageous enough to initiate change.
Let us not forget that it’s not the strength of the water that bores a hole in a storm. It’s the continuity of the drops, tiny drops, that actually bore the hole on a storm. So let us be vigilant. Let us be determined. Let us always put the emphasis on international values, humanitarian values, and for the last 14 years, as Turkey, we have been struggling to do just that.
Turkey has always been conscientious and Turkey has always been entrepreneurial in its diplomacy, and to find solutions to problems we’ve always assumed responsibility in places like Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan. Our policies demonstrate this stance and we just – we don’t just talk the talk but we also walk the talk. We turn our words into action. And many countries, sadly, oversee this and in many crises many countries try to procrastinate.
But Turkey assumed real responsibility and Turkey always wanted to do its fair share in terms of doing the job and we’ve always spoken our minds. They say history always repeats itself. But history repeats itself unless we learn our lessons. If we learn our lessons, history is not going to repeat itself.
In Yemen, in Libya, in Egypt, democracy – we sided with democracy with the national will. Since 2011, Somalia has been in a very dire state, and we have done our best to help our Somalian brothers and sisters so that a new state can be built from scratch.
When you look at Syria, since day one we’ve always been supporting the legitimate demands of the public. We never left them to our – to their own devices, and we opened our doors, our gates, to Syrians who are fleeing their countries regardless of their ethnicity and religion. For six years now, by using our own means we have been hosting 3 million Syrian refugees in this country and with the – with NGOs included the amount that we have spent so far has surpassed $25 billion.
So what have we received in return from the European Union up until today, despite their pledges, despite their promises? Actually, in July of 2016 they were supposed to give us 3 billion euro. What have we received so far? Let me tell you. So far we have received 725 million euro. Another tranche of 3 billion (euros) was promised. That never came.
How about UNHCR? Did we receive anything from them? We received $550 million in total. So that’s what we got, and we spent 25 billion (dollars) as a country. This is why Turkey is different, why Turkey stands from the rest of the international community.
Are we going to stop these efforts? No, because we are not going to be a mere witness to the plight of these people because if you yield to oppression then that’s a form of oppression as well. We’ve always been opening our arms in a compassionate manner and we are always going to receive these people.
Ceasefire. The efforts for ceasefire and starting political negotiations is important. We are doing our best to also fight against terrorism. With the Shield of Euphrates, we kicked Daesh out of our borders. So far, 3,000 Daesh members were actually killed in the region. In the international media, there are certain news that are not really correct and I’d like to highlight them here.
Two thousand five hundred kilometers of an area was actually cleansed of terrorists and many Syrians could get – go back to their homes. We did not single out anybody. We always cooperated with the locals and this was a huge blow to Daesh. Actually, it was the biggest blow to Daesh so far. And now that this safe zone has been cleared of terrorists, we are doing our best so that life can go back to normal.
But there is one thing that I’d like to stress here. Now, all the talks I’ve held with friends so far there is one thing that I’ve always mentioned. In our south – in north of Syria in that region we need to create a safe zone that has been cleansed of terrorist activities. Let’s also make this a no-fly zone and let’s train and equip special forces in this region.
Turkey is ready to do whatever it needs to do in this regard. We’ve always said this but – and this makes sense – what I’m saying is something that makes sense, that this is what everyone has told me but, sadly, we have not been able to take this decisive step. Up until now, we see – we’ve been seeing a lot of support for terrorist organizations. If we had done what I just mentioned, then Syrian people would not have left Syria and the refugees in Turkey, in Lebanon, perhaps they would be able to go back to this safe zone and start a new life in this – in this region.
We wanted to build housing projects in this area, to provide health care services, social services and so on and so forth. The area would be 4,000, 5,000 square kilometers, and we wanted to build a new city but we could not do it. Daesh, YPG, al-Qaida, Shepya (ph), all these bloody terrorists are – do whatever they want in this terrorist quagmire and we need to do whatever we can to eradicate this quagmire.
But in order to do that, we need to be decisive against terrorist organizations. We need to stand tall and stand united against terrorist organizations. We cannot be holding hands with a terrorist organization to defeat another terrorist organization. There is no such thing as a good terrorist organization or a bad terrorist organization. Because of the fact that one organization sides with you does not mean that it’s good.
With this rationale, we are not going to be able to accomplish anything because all terrorist organizations by nature are bad and they need to be fought against. We need to be unequivocal in our struggle against terrorist organizations and we need to exhibit solidarity with one another. Only if we can do that will we be able to rid the world of these killers.
Just because they’re fighting against Daesh, PKK or YPG, such terrorist organizations, ethnic cleansing activities or murders that they commit in the region would actually invite further atrocities in the future. We know PYD very well. We know YPG and PYD very well because they are the aborted children of the PKK and they were raised by the PKK. We know it very well. We know who is who in the region. And if there is – there is a party who knows everyone in the region, then our friends should turn to us and learn from us, because otherwise, based on information that is not factual, the steps that people will take would not be – would not be the right steps.
We see a lot of suffering, a lot of plight in the region. Civilizations are crumbling down. And terrorist organizations, lest we forget, are like scorpions, and they’re going to bite the hand that feeds them sooner or later. And we should not be legitimizing terror. We should never compromise on international legitimacy. And we should – we can eradicate Daesh terrorism without legitimizing other types of terrorism. Shield of Euphrates operation exhibited that it’s possible.
As a country, we do not differentiate between terrorist organizations, and we will continue our struggle because these terrorist organizations are a threat to our territorial integrity and to the life of our citizens and to the prosperity of our country. And we see a lot of things happening for the last two years from Syria. We’ve been receiving bomb attacks or artillery attacks from the Syrian side. So it’s apparent for everyone to see. The enemy is evident. Are we supposed to not retaliate? We are going to do whatever is necessary. We are going to retaliate in kind.
Now, Turkey has certain rights based on international law, and we are going to exercise these rights. We are a country where there’s the rule of law. We are going to exercise these rights and continue to exercise these rights. As long as the threats prevail, we are going to take all the necessary steps. We are not going to let a terrorist corridor thrive in the south of our country, and we are not going to tolerate any efforts to establish a state in the north of Syria.
You know, they are engaging in certain acts to form a ministerial cabinet or other things, but we are not going to keep silent about this. We are never going to let such a state to be established in the north of Syria because we are for the territorial integrity of Syria. We believe that the territorial integrity of Syria should be protected. We are going to continue our fight against terrorism, be it inside Turkey and outside Turkey, and we expect solidarity from all our allies and friends.
Dear participants, between Turkey and the U.S., there needs to be cooperation and bilateral ties, and that is very much needed to find solutions to the problems in the region. When we acted before – acted together before, we achieved strategic accomplishments. We’ve all seen what we are capable of. And in these turbulent times, let’s focus on this relationship as two allies.
And with the Trump administration, high-level talks actually started in January 2012 (sic) with Mr. Trump. We had the opportunity to discuss how we can turn a new page in terms of relations between Turkey and the U.S. compared to the previous administration in terms of fight against terrorism, utilization of chemical weapons, and state terrorism in Syria. I think Mr. Trump is going to exhibit a more determined stance, and I welcome that.
After the chemical attacks of the regime, maybe it was belated, but it was still a move that we applauded. For the first time, the Assad regime had to pay for its atrocities, and this is a first.
And, God willing, on the 16th of May in D.C. we are going to get together with Mr. Trump and have the opportunity to discuss all these issues at length. We are going to discuss about our bilateral relations, the regional problems, and we will have the opportunity to discuss all these matters.
I think there is more that we can do in terms of bilateral relations, and there are some sensitive items on the agenda. We have certain expectations from our U.S. American friends. We expect them to understand the threats that we find ourselves against very well, and we expect them to be exhibiting solidarity towards us.
Under the pretext of fight against Daesh, we will not be tolerating any cooperation with another terrorist organization. We do not accept the U.S. working in tandem with YPG and PYD in Syria because this undermines the good relations between the two countries.
Also, the ringleader of the failed coup attempt of 15th of July is still residing in Pennsylvania, continuing his terrorist activities, and this is something that concerns our nation. This ringleader, this terrorist, is operating in 170 countries in the world. And such a ringleader, such a terrorist, should not be freely living in the United States because he is running his operations in 170 countries across the globe, and this is a great cause for concern for us. Two hundred and forty-nine people were killed as a result of the coup attempt, and more than 2,000 people were maimed. In no civilized country in the world should be hosting such terrorists.
The leader of this organization, the Gulenist terrorist organization, namely Fethullah, should be apprehended, should be extradited to Turkey. That’s our number one demand from the U.S.
And also, we need to focus more on our economic ties and political ties. The United States ranks the second in terms of foreign direct investment in Turkey, and our trade volume in 2016 was $17.5 billion. But this is only a fragment of the real potential between the two countries. More U.S. American companies should come to Turkey and invest in Turkey because we offer many incentives for international investors and we would very much like to see more U.S. American companies coming to Turkey.
In order to strengthen the ties between the two countries, there are NGOs working in Turkey like DAIG (ph) and TOBB, and we need to make sure that they do more. And also, between the companies, we need to strengthen sectoral communication. And hopefully in the next period we are going to make progress on all these areas and we are going to take decisive steps to do these things.
Dear guests, as a country, we are going to be celebrating the centenary of our republic in 2023, and we are hoping to be one of the top 10 economies around the world. Per capita income is to be increased up to $25,000, and we are hoping to achieve $1 trillion in terms of foreign trade. This is our vision.
And one of the most important things that is going to contribute to this end is undoubtedly energy. In this region, in its foreign policy, Turkey has always believed that energy is a great instrument to achieve peace because consumption of energy, at the end of the day, is also about the welfare of that country. It’s a signifier of the welfare of that country. That’s why we need to share energy. By doing that, we will be sharing welfare. In our regional relations, in our bilateral regions, we are doing our best to use this instrument as best as we can.
And in terms of energy, Turkey’s never going to be unilateral in its approach. We’ve never been in it for a quick gain for ourselves. We’ve always made sure that our projects are based on a win-win approach, and we have derived great results from these projects. And I do believe that Turkey and the U.S. can cooperate in terms of energy, as well, because our strategy in terms of energy is based on a tripod, on three pillars, and these are supply, safety, localization, and predictability and predictable markets.
Since the beginning of 2013, in electricity and natural gas markets, both public organizations and private companies made investments that total $75 billion. In addition to the existing pipelines, TANAP, Turkish Stream, northern Iraq pipeline, and Eastern Med pipeline projects were initiated. These are historic projects that are going to help us mitigate geopolitical risks. With these projects, on the one hand, we are turning Turkey into an energy corridor, an energy hub, and we are also making a contribution to the supply security of Turkey.
And the LNG structure is also being strengthened as we speak. Floating energy power plants was the focus of a project that was initiated last year. In 2016, for the first time, we imported LNG from the U.S., and this was a first as well.
Similarly, natural gas and petroleum storage capacity is being increased. Our minister mentioned the details to you previously.
We are burdened by the fact that we import hydrocarbon fuels. We need to develop our own resources. And an exploratory ship is carrying out seismic explorations around Turkey. Another vessel is going to carry our explorations and do drillings in the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean Sea twice every year.
We are also focusing on renewable energy resources, local resources. This marks the second pillar of our energy policy. In 2016, in electricity generation, the rate of local resources stood at 49.3 percent. Our target is to increase this up to two-thirds in the upcoming period.
And to do that, we are going to also add nuclear energy to our energy mix, and we are going to get 10 percent of our energy needs from nuclear energy.
There is one more thing that I’d like to highlight. In 21st century, energy should not be about destructive competition, but it should be the key to cooperation between the countries. And in order to increase international cooperation, we have been hosting many international events. Last year, the 23rd World Energy Congress was actually held here in Istanbul, and hopefully this year the 22nd Petroleum Congress is going to be held in Istanbul, this summer. Also, at the end of May there is going to be a summit, the BSEC Summit, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Summit, and we are going to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of that organization.
Dear friends, Turkey is an integral part of the Euro-Atlantic geography in terms of welfare, peace and stability. We will continue to make a contribution to these ends in the upcoming period. We’re never going to compromise on democracy, law, free-market values, international values and principles. We are going to continue to make progress in all these areas.
And our expectation from our allies, from our friends, is for them to rid themselves of prejudices and black propaganda, and to also stay away from double standards. And we expect them to continue cooperating with Turkey. Turkey will always do whatever it is supposed to do in terms of friendship and solidarity, and we expect the same from our friends, and respect the legacy that dates back a long time.
After 9/11, the Security Council took a decisive step. But sadly, after the failed coup attempt, we didn’t see any such support for Turkey, and some terrorist organizations are being tolerated. And there is no way we can condone that attitude. Turkey should not be left alone in its struggle against terrorism.
And you look at certain countries in Europe, and these countries harbor these terrorists. They provide all sorts of support for these terrorist organizations and they harbor them. And we have all the documents that pertain to this. And these European countries should take a look at themselves and rethink their stance.
Like I said, 249 people were killed in the coup attempt, and some of these killers are now being shielded by some so-called friends. And the gist of NATO and transatlantic cooperation is actually all about exhibiting solidarity and supporting one another. Without respecting each other’s sensitivities, we will not be able to do that.
Turkey expects a certain commitment from its allies, and we believe that we have the right to expect that for both sides of the Atlantic. Turkey is going to be a strong and reliable partner, just like in the past. It will continue to be that in the future. Let’s breathe new life into this cooperation, and we can do that by exhibiting the right type of attitude.
Yes, we are going through turbulent times. But let us focus on the foundations of this cooperation. Let us strengthen. Let us fortify the foundations of this relationship. Let’s join hands as states. And let us not tolerate terrorist organizations. Let us not take them seriously. Why should we side with them? Because these terrorist organizations, are they members of NATO? No. We are members of NATO. We stand together at NATO. So why should we expect things from terrorist organizations? We are here. We are here in the region. We are here to support all sorts of efforts in the region. We can be a part of every sort of coalition in the region. But you should not be – no one should be siding with these terrorist organizations. We would not be siding with them either because they are our enemies.
With these sentiments, I’d like to end my words. And I’d like to extend my gratitude to Atlantic Council for organizing this event, and everyone who made this event possible. I’d like to thank you all once again, and I hope that this summit is going to broaden our horizons and serve our countries by further strengthening the cooperation between our countries.
I greet you all once again with my deepest regards. Thank you very much indeed. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: Mr. President, you’ve honored this audience by providing us a very rich and far-reaching address, and we thank you very much. Also, thank you for agreeing to take two questions, just to end this session.
The first. I wonder – you gave a very strong statement about your upcoming trip to the United States, your upcoming meeting with President Trump. And you touched on three issues: YPG/PKK, Fethullah Gulen, and trade – economic issues. And I think you know the president has a preference for bilateral agreements. What, concrete, would be a success for you out of this trip? What do you expect? What’s most important?
PRESIDENT ERDOĞAN: First of all, thank you very much for this great question opening up wide horizon.
Primarily, there are some regional developments, and these are extremely important developments. And as you know, on the one hand, we see that there are the coalition forces led by the U.S., and we have to cooperate with this coalition. And on the other hand, we see the weight of Russia in the region. And on the other hand, we see the presence of Iran in the region, and that is has a certain weight. So we have to discuss these matters. It’s extremely important that we discuss these issues with the president.
And as I have mentioned in my presentation, in my speech, we have an expectation from President Trump, which is as follows. Are we to focus only of Daesh, or on all terrorist organizations? If the focus is going to be only on Daesh and Daesh only, then this will be a mistake. That will be a mistake. As we try to destroy a terrorist organization, we should not be strengthening other terrorist organizations in the region.
Unfortunately, there are arms being supplied to these organizations, and they then share those arms with Daesh. We have documentation of those. We have video recordings, we have visuals, and we have written documents. So it’s no use trying to take them away.
Of course, I have to be telling this to President Trump. This happened during the term of former President Obama, and I shared this. I mentioned this many times to Mr. Obama, but I was unable to convince him.
So it is a new era. It’s a new term with President Trump. And my expectation is that we will be able to tell this, share this with President Trump, and we’ll come up with a joint solution.
As I have said before, we would not be defeating a terrorist organization via another terrorist organization. Please take a look at Jarablus, and Daesh is now out of the picture. We did not do that with YPG. We have not done that with YPG. So what have we done? We have, in solidarity, worked with the Free Syrian Army and cleared the area from Daesh. And al-Rai, the same thing happened in al-Rai, and Daesh is no longer in the picture. The same rule applies to other cities, for instance Dabiq. Dabiq, we cleared the path from them so they no longer are there. And we have to enter into al-Bab, we said, because this is critical for Daesh. Al-Bab took a little longer, but we also cleared that area from Daesh. There’s no longer Daesh there.
So two important places are left now. One in Manbij. I have repeatedly shared this with former President Obama. I told that Manbij belongs to the Arabs in the region. Manbij doesn’t belong to YPG or PYD. However, the Arab population there has been removed, and instead YPG and PYD have been replaced. So we ask them one thing: send them to the east of Euphrates. And they said that they have no concerns, we will do that. However, that was not the case, unfortunately. They still are there. So we have to clear Manbij of these groups.
And once we achieve that, where is the headquarters? Raqqa. Raqqa is the center. Varying between 2,500 to 5,000 – there are 2,500 to 5,000 terrorists present in that region. And coalition forces, led by the U.S., Turkey, Free or Liberal Syrian Army, we have to join forces to clear that area of the terrorists. But we can do that. We’re capable of doing that. We can achieve that together. We have proven that in al-Rai and in Jarablus and al-Bab. We have proven that so far. So if U.S. and coalition forces, Turkey, we can achieve that.
We can achieve it, so why are we here? I strongly believe that we can achieve this, and I will certainly tell this to President Trump. Let us come together, join forces, and do that so that we get rid of all these terrorist organizations in the region. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is that there is a very important step that we have to take. Of course, Turkey – between Turkey and the U.S., economic, commercial relationships have to be fostered further on as soon as possible; $17.5 billion of trade volume, this is quite low between the U.S. and Turkey, and this has to be improved. This has to be leveraged, but may be done for that purpose. I’m going to discuss that with President Trump.
And the most important item in this context is defense industry. Mr. Hadley knows this very well. Defense industry – investment to be made in the defense industry has to be considered. There are some joint steps we have to take with the U.S. Most of the time, these have been prevented by the Congress. So I do hope that, in the new era, from now on the Congress will open the path for that, and Turkey will be able to collaborate with the U.S. as two members of NATO and take steps accordingly in that respect.
And, of course, the most important step is that, as you see, here we are discussing energy. And in the area of energy, we have in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with the U.S., there is a huge potential we may achieve with the U.S. as well as in other regions. We may take joint steps in that regard as well. This is very much possible.
In addition to these matters and these topics that I have just covered, there are some other things we may discuss related to recent developments. Certain units have to collaborate more and join forces, starting with ministries of foreign affairs and intelligence organizations. They have to join forces in order to further enhance security.
I don’t know whether I missed out anything.
MR. KEMPE: Mr. President, thank you for that answer. It sounds like more than a get-to-know-you session.
Last question, and this is on the referendum. Given the referendum – and you know how closely this has been watched in the United States and Europe, elsewhere – what impact does this have on your vision of Turkey’s future? And how should the world understand the impact of the referendum?
PRESIDENT ERDOĞAN: Regarding the referendum, the impact of the referendum, first of all, if you have a sincere look towards Turkey, you will be able to see that it’s a brand-new era that is taking off, that is starting. And in the last few days, we have been witnessing great impetus in the economy, and especially in areas of investment. We see that there is an enhancement. There are steps taken in order to further enhance investment, and this shows that Turkey is regarded as a safe harbor. And this shows, actually, the impact of this referendum.
Currently, we would like to make a reminder to all our friends and allies in the world. Please take a look at the U.S. elections. What do you see whenever there is an election process in the U.S.? Fifty-one percent, 52 percent, and the results are around those figures, right? So with this result, they win the elections. And this election, the most recent elections in the U.S., based on the requirement of your electoral system, Mr. Trump got less votes than Hillary Clinton but still won the election. So what happened afterwards? They protested, they were out on the streets, but then again the most important thing is this stands. So Mr. Trump show his stands, and now the USA administration is underway. The number of senators in the Congress, that’s the most essential thing, and the difference is nearly 100 in that respect. So that’s how he won the elections.
So, in Turkey, in our system, there is no such thing. In our system, whatever comes from the ballots, with 51.4 percent, the ones who voted for yes won the referendum. And the higher board of elections disclosed the results. The ones who said no got 48.6 percent of the votes, but that does not necessarily mean the following: the ones who say yes will neglect the ones who say no. That is not the case. We will not, of course, ignore them or neglect them. This is not possible at all. Why not? Because they are the people of my country as well. And if you are talking about services, we are providing services to the whole country.
For the last 15 years we have been serving this country, a country that is wide enough to 780 kilometers, in justice, in security, in transportation, in food and agriculture, in education. We have taken giant steps for this country. Why? Why so? Because this is our country. We are going to build and we are going to transform this country. And by constructing and transforming this country, we will make sure that our country, Turkey, is leveraged to the same level as developed countries and civilizations.
We are talking about energy today. There used to be places, remote areas in this country where there was no power. But we have made sure that power is taken – energy is taken to each and every corner of this country. Fifteen years ago, if one would talk about wind energy, everyone would be startled and would not know what you were talking about. The same rule applies to solar energy. They would also have the same reaction. But currently we are focusing on diversification of energy. And when we say clean energy, we are executing this in the best way possible. And we will also make sure that we will accelerate this process. We will have further progress so that Turkey’s dependence on foreign resources is diminished.
Yet another important step – significant step we will take is as follows: investment; undertaking investment in Turkey sees no barriers. My doors are open as the president of the republic. Please make sure that you contact me myself if you think there are hurdles that prevent investment to be made in Turkey because the task of the politician is to remove the stones on the path of the investors. So if there are hurdles or barriers that prevent investment, then that does not work. But we will make sure that all those hurdles are removed so that further investment comes to this country.
I have done that so far. Twenty-two billion - $22.5 billion was the foreign direct investment at some stage during my prime ministry. So we will take that even to a higher level and we’ll take the necessary steps for that.
But I’m happy with one thing. There is a dynamic domestic investor profile in Turkey, which pleases me. And if they also join forces with international partners, these investments will be further developed, and this is essential. Currently, our government is quite decisive in taking steps, and law on incentives – investment incentives has been enacted which is quite ambitious. And with this specific law, this package, which is extremely important for incentives to be offered to the investors, that’s quite crucial. And this law enables investors to enjoy the exceptions and incentives offered by the government. So this is the reason why many investors are taking steps in that regard, and thank God, we’re thankful for all those steps.
And as the president of the republic, I am always – I have always been and I will continue to be by the side of the investors and entrepreneurs. We will continue with the solidarity so that we invest in third countries as well, so no one should have concerns about that.
So these erroneous or inaccurate claims or campaigns conducted outside the country, do not lend an ear to that. Instead, just change your attitude and do not protect these terrorists, especially Europe. I’m saying this – I’m making a call out to Europe: OK, you supported the no campaign, and you lost. So now put that aside and now reflect on it, think about blank page to open. We still keep our doors open, although you supported that campaign. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: Mr. President, on behalf of our Board leadership, Steve Hadley and Jim Jones – we have Board members and International Advisory Board members, many of them here for this summit. On behalf of all of them and the audience here, thank you for taking so much of your valuable time with us for this valuable and incredibly significant exchange. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: For the family photo, I would like to invite Mr. Minister Berat Albayrak, Mr. Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Mr. Prime Minster Nechervan Idris Barzani, Mr. Minister Mohammed Saleh Al Sada, Mr. Frederick Kempe, Mr. Fatih Birol, General James Jones, Ms. Defne Sadiklar Arslan, Mr. Steve Hadley, Ambassador Richard Morningstar, Ambassador John Herbst.
(A group photograph is taken.)
ANNOUNCER: Distinguished guests, we would like to kindly ask you stay in your seats.
ANNOUNCER: Distinguished guests, please remain seated while Mr. President leaves.