Eastern Mediterranean Security Conference
Remarks by Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera
October 25th, 2000
"Peace, Prosperity and Partnership"
Thank you John, for your kind introduction and for providing me the opportunity to speak before such a distinguished group of people, who have come together in such a positive manner to do the serious work that is necessary to further the cause of peace, stability, understanding and cooperation in the Mediterranean.
Ambassador Philon, Ambassador Ilkin, your participation in this conference is much appreciated. And let me say that I very much look forward to my upcoming visit to your respective countries. It is a trip I have wanted to make for some time, one that will, I trust, help strengthen the relations between our countries and help me better understand the security challenges we face in common in the region. And on a personal level, it will help me get to know better your countries, your peoples and your cultures.
General Myers, General Joulwan, Admiral Lopez, General Jamerson, General Veryvakis, Admiral Dervisoglu, General Antonetsis, Admiral Philippou, General Zinni, Lieutenant General Avar, Vice Admiral Gaffney, LTG Abizaid, your expertise and your personal commitment of many years to improving relations in the Mediterranean are invaluable to the success of this conference. I am delighted to see you here. All other general officers, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
John, before I begin, let me say to you that the efforts of the Western Policy Center in providing a new and balanced forum for this work are timely, necessary, important, and deeply appreciated by all. These discussions serve to facilitate and underscore the importance of the progress currently being made in ushering in a new era of cooperation between Greece and Turkey. These ongoing discussions are an essential element to creating the dialogue that will lead to the attainment of the shared goals of all our nations. We can strengthen the security alliances we share, lessen the tensions between Greece and Turkey, and, most importantly, begin to envision a common destiny whereby your two countries set the stage for the expansion of peace, prosperity, understanding and cooperation among the nations of Southeastern Europe and beyond.
As the United States Secretary of the Army, I must begin by recognizing the ongoing and profound contributions to peace and security in Southeastern Europe being made by Greece and Turkey. Through your military, diplomatic, economic and humanitarian efforts, you have played an integral part in promoting the rebirth of hope and democracy in the Balkans. The United States and our Army have been your grateful partner in these efforts.
The United States indeed has a long history and a strong and enduring relationship with each of your nations. Last year, in his remarks before the Turkish National Council, President Clinton recalled, how early in the 20th century, as the Cold War threatened, the United States committed its resources to protect the sovereignty of Greece and Turkey. He described how that commitment formed the basis of an ongoing partnership sealed by the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. The basis of these partnerships was more than just military and economic assistance, it was the longing to achieve, as friends, the vision of a Europe that was free, at peace and undivided.
Throughout the Cold War, both Greece and Turkey served to anchor NATO's Southern Region. Meanwhile, the armies of Greece and Turkey also fought side-by-side with our nation in Korea on freedom's frontier. Ultimately, such joint efforts and NATO's resolve led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the threat posed by the Soviet Union to the citizens of Alliance members. For over fifty years now, our alliance has withstood the test of time, and every other test.
The Alliance and relationships that held us in good stead throughout the Cold War are now of great benefit as we turn to face the new enemies of stability and prosperity in this region and in the world.
During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, when Saddam Hussein posed a tremendous threat to our common interests, your countries again provided critical support to insuring a coalition victory in the Gulf. Turkey continues to play a critical role in support of Operation Northern Watch, and we are grateful for that. More recently, your countries are participating together in United Nations peacekeeping operations vital to regional stability, including in Bosnia and Kosovo. Greece played a difficult, but vital role in support of Operation Allied Force, and we are grateful for that. Through these actions, you demonstrated the commitment and courage to work together with our NATO allies to achieve a higher purpose, despite the fact that your proximity and relations in the region made these choices harder. But you showed what we can achieve when we work together. This vision of how much more there is to be gained by working together must underlie the urgency and importance of working through our differences. You live in a region in transition that is in need of the leadership Greece and Turkey can collectively provide.
In this area of the world where many nations have only recently transitioned into democratic states, the role of Turkey and Greece is key to creating a basis for regional stability, facilitating the expansion of democratic traditions and nurturing economic growth and prosperity. The rewards of cooperation will be great, and in particular to achieving the vision of a better economic future for all.
Today, at the dawn of a new millennium, we find ourselves deep in the throes of a worldwide transition from industrial age economies to information based economies. The success of nations and regions in this era of globalization is dependent upon the continual building and growth of cooperation. As technology advances, along with advances in communications, neighbors become closer and more closely intertwined in sustaining cooperative relationships. This results in richer and more fulfilling partnerships for all parties. We must all strive to continue to foster the growth of clear communications and the buildup of peaceful, cooperative relationships or face the consequences of our failure to do so. Countries and regions of the world that create a climate of stability for free markets are providing the foundation necessary for increased trade and investment, and to be economically competitive in a global information age economy. They will be far ahead in reaping the benefits of this increased prosperity over regions troubled by instability and mired in the insoluble problems of the past. Clearly, there is more to be gained for everyone by working more closely together to realize a vision of a shared destiny of peace and prosperity.
Each of your nations has made significant contributions to bringing about this vision of greater regional prosperity and a more open and just society. Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Athens and Ankara are the new centers of economic and regional political power for all the inhabitants of the Balkans and the Caucasus. The many diverse peoples of this region look to your great cities as centers of culture, education and development, as they work to rebuild their own economies and political structures along democratic principles.
Even the geographical locations of both Greece and Turkey, situated as they are on the economic pivot points on the Mediterranean and on the Black Seas, can help to unify the region and provide the foundation for a new millennium of peace, prosperity and partnership. Greece is paving the way and binding Southeastern Europe closer to the rest of the European continent by its participation and membership in the European Union. And Turkey, which we hope will soon join you as an EU member, as a result of this emerging vision also plays a valuable role in world security interests by its stabilizing presence as a democratic, secular nation in a region with very weak democratic traditions and rampant political instability.
Of course, regional challenges to achieving this shared vision across the globe continue to be significant, and the stakes are high.
Recent events in the Middle East illustrate the kind of setbacks that can impede progress to the greater levels of cooperation that are not only possible, but must ultimately occur, if we are to achieve our common global vision. These setbacks are troubling in a world where there are so many places in transition with their own potential for setbacks with grave and unfortunate consequences for the whole world.
Greece and Turkey can follow a different path, and be leaders in solving such problems rather than a source of them. Your respective militaries can be a source of leadership to finding that path. As military leaders, you see more clearly the external threats that your nations face in common, as well as the opportunities to be reaped on the world stage by new levels of cooperation. You can better weigh the mutual advantages of finding ways to take old issues off the table in order to achieve far greater gains collectively. You have the opportunity within the context of NATO to take such steps and indeed you are already using such opportunities to take important confidence building steps. You are establishing the foundation of trust, dialogue, and cooperation that is necessary to achieve further progress.
Your joint efforts in the Southeastern European Defense Ministerial (SEDM) have advanced the security of the region by expanding regional partnerships, training, and promoting improved regional defense capabilities. Your participation in the Southeastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG), is a daily reminder that a new day is coming. The joint stationing of NATO officers in Greece and Turkey and the two recent NATO exercises in the Aegean, Dynamic Mix and Destined Glory, have been watershed events in advancing Greek-Turkish military relations.
As military leaders, you also more than most, know the cost of war and thus can better weigh the mutual efforts which must be undertaken and concessions which must be made, to achieve the peace and greater prosperity we all seek for the world. Working together your militaries can take steps to open many new possibilities. I would urge you not to let communications break down and to seek every opportunity for openings encouraging greater cooperation. You must make the choice for peace, but we will be with you and help you.
This is very difficult work, but we have no choice. Your nations operate jointly from positions of strength. That strength is derived from the rich diversity of your peoples and ideas, united in a democratic framework, and it will serve as the basis for future cooperation and partnership. e have an obligation to do what we can and must continue to work for peace on our planet and a future which provides opportunity and economic well being for all nations. This conference has provided a solid opportunity to seriously address issues of concern to both your nations and of concern throughout the entire Aegean and Mediterranean regions. While there will always be challenges and obstacles, we must never lose sight of our mutual goals of peace, stability and prosperity for this region of the world. Our countries need to work together to continue to provide strong, stable and prosperous democracies and partnerships in both Greece and Turkey. We must seize the opportunity provided by this new millennium to build bridges and work to come ever closer to lasting peace.