Address By Ambassador Namık Tan On The Occasion Of The Flag Raising Ceremony Held In Norfolk, Va On October 28, 2013 , 28.10.2013
Members of the Allied Command Transformation,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor and privilege for me to address you today on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to all of you for joining us on this important day. I would also like to thank Major General Salih Sevil (Deputy Chief of Staff-Resource and Management), Turkish national liaison representatives and all Turkish officers accredited to the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation for their invaluable contributions to the work of the most successful military alliance and security organization in history.
The Republic of Turkey emerged 90 years ago from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire and has since then achieved great strides in reaching the ambitious, yet realistic standards of modernity set by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and the first President of our Republic.
With its democratic and secular political system, vibrant free market economy and its tradition of reconciling modernity with cultural identity, Turkey has become a bulwark of progress and stability in an inherently unstable geography. Its democratic and secular political system continues to be a source of inspiration in our region and beyond. Our robust and competitive economy is ranked as the 6th largest in Europe and 16th largest worldwide. Our highly skilled and educated population is one of our greatest assets for further economic and social development.
Guided by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s motto, Turkey has been pursuing a policy of “Peace at Home and Peace Abroad” since the establishment of the Republic in 1923. As an active member of today's globalized world, Turkey employs a multi-dimensional foreign policy aimed at generating security and stability in our region and beyond. Within this framework, Turkey employs a broad spectrum of peaceful means, including regional integration processes, active participation in peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, contribution to the resolution of disputes as well as post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.
Thanks to its geographic disposition and close historical and cultural ties across a vast landscape, Turkey also serves as a crucial role in facilitating dialogue and interaction between different cultures at the heart of Eurasia. The multi-dimensional character of Turkish foreign policy has been reflected in Turkey’s membership in a wide range of international and regional organizations, including NATO, OSCE, the Council of Europe, OECD and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, along with its candidature for full membership in the EU.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Turkey made the historic choice of siding with the free world. Although influenced by the realities of the time and the Article V guarantees, our decision to join NATO was fundamentally a result of our democratic vocation and a choice of becoming part of societies governed by universal values.
The end of the Cold War brought about hopes for a less confrontational and more secure environment in the Euro-Atlantic region. However, with the emergence of ever-increasing and intertwined threats and security risks, both assessments proved to be wrong. In an atmosphere of increasing vulnerability to threats of global nature, such as terrorism, regional conflicts, proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, NATO has further proven its relevance as the main and most effective actor in providing security.
Equally, being at the epicenter of assymetric risks and threats in the current international security environment, Turkey continues to be a net contributor to international peace and security. As such, we are an active participant in NATO-led peace support operations. We take part in operations of other leading international organizations as well, such as the United Nations and the European Union. Turkey currently maintains the largest armed forces among the European allies and is only second to the United States within NATO.
With Turkish troops and assets deployed in on-going NATO missions and operations in three continents, and extensive contributions - in soft security terms - reaching out to Central Asia, Caucasus, Middle East and Northern Africa through NATO’s partnership mechanisms, Turkey has proven to be a staunch member of the Alliance, and a net contributor to both regional and global peace and security. Due to her geographical proximity as well as cultural and historical ties with the Balkans, Caucasus, Central, Asia and the Middle East, Turkey plays a special role in the Alliance’s outreach to its partners in these regions. Thus, Turkey is not a security consumer, but a security promoter.
The conflict in Syria has once again called NATO into action as our allies authorized the deployment of missiles to shield Turkey from a possible missile attack by the Syrian regime. Taking this opportunity, let me express once again our appreciation for the support and solidarity extended to Turkey by NATO allies in this regard. I am confident that NATO will remain an indispensable linchpin of the Transatlantic ties and Euro-Atlantic security for many years to come.
I would be remiss if I did not say a few words about Turkey-US relations on this occasion, not least because Turkey’s NATO membership and its genuine partnership with the US are complementary. Turkey and the US are not only allies but also partners bound by mutual respect, common interests and universal values, including democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and free market economy. Our countries cooperate on a broad geography, spanning the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Eastern Mediterranean, Central and South Asia, as well as on critically important issues, such as counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, energy security and sustainable development. Our exemplary relations have recently been elevated to the status of a model partnership and we are committed to a healthy, robust and forward looking full partnership with the United States.
I would like to conclude by expressing our gratitude to all the military and civilian NATO personnel and paying tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of a more secure and peaceful world.