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1988 Apr 8 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Joint Press Conference with Turksih Prime Minister (Turgut Ozal)

Document type: speeches
Document kind: Press Conference
Venue: Ankara Airport
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 0900-0945.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 3281
Themes: Civil liberties, Defence (general), Monetary policy, Trade, European Union (general), Foreign policy (Middle East), Terrorism

Prime Minister

Turgut ÖzalPrime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen may I first of all thank Mr Özal for inviting me on this visit. It has been immensely interesting and worthwhile and I am looking forward to the second day in Istanbul. I am very impressed with what I have seen and there is more to come. I am also very grateful for the tremendously warm reception which the Turkish people have given to me.

As Prime Minister Özal has indicated we had very full talks yesterday which we continued over both lunch and dinner and he has given you an outline of the matters we discussed. May I perhaps add one or two things?

We discussed the Turkish economy and then Mr Özal gave me a very full account of everything that is happening. Of course a remarkable transformation has been achieved by Mr Özal 's Government in the Turkish economy. Naturally, doing the right things sometimes causes short-term problems but the long-term prospects are very good.

The Prime Minister is very keen to see more British and other European investment in Turkey and we of course are ready for that and we also, as he indicated, want to see our trade increased and we discussed a number of contracts and matters in that regard.

Secondly we discussed the Middle East as the Prime Minister [end p1] has indicated, both the tragic Iran and Iraq war and the tragedies in the Arab Israel conflict. It is easier to perhaps pose the problems of both than it is to find the solution, but we both know that we must continue to work for solutions in both cases because otherwise the tragedies will continue and whether it be through Mr Özal 's special position in Iran and Iraq or through our efforts in the Security Council and in the United Nations, we must continue to see we do everything we can to try to bring peace to that region and we wish Mr Shultz 's initiative well although we are well aware of all the difficulties with the Arab Israeli problem. It will not be solved until the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people are negotiated and are met.

Thirdly, of course, we discussed European matters. As you know, Britain has been a great friend of Turkey and Europe and we want to see the Association Agreement between Turkey and the European Community work more effectively and we hope for a successful Association Council later this month.

We ourselves are supporting the fourth financial protocol as we have supported previous ones and we should like that to be unblocked.

As regards Turkey's application to the European Community; we discussed that of course and we have to wait for the Commission to give its opinion and I told Mr Özal that we would approach this issue from a perspective of our historic friendship for Turkey and we understand very much the wisdom of Mr Özal 's strategy in building up Turkey's economic strength as rapidly as possible so that any differences between Turkey and the European Community are reduced [end p2] when the European Commission comes and gives its report.

And fourth, of course, we discussed Cyprus and I think we are one in wanting to see a unified state of Cyprus with a federal constitution. The election of President Vassiliou and the development of Turkey's relation with Greece creates new opportunities to make progress. I hope these opportunities will be taken. The basic need is for the two communities in Cyprus to talk direct to each other with the help of the Javier Perez de CuellarUnited Nation's Secretary General and to reach compromises.

Those were the four things on which we had our main discussion. Of course throughout the whole time I have been here the hijacking we have discussed on many occasions and kept extremely closely in touch with what has been happening and are still closely in touch. We wish to see a peaceful end to that with the lives of all on board conserved and saved and a peaceful end to that ordeal.

I think it would be best now if I finally thanked Mr Özal now for a wonderful visit to Ankara, I look forward to the visit today of Istanbul and ask your questions.

Question

Prime Minister why do you not more … and welcome the decision … Turkey's application to join the European Community? Why cannot you say “Yes” at this stage?

Prime Minister

You mean you say “Yes” before you have even considered the implications? It might be all right for the media; it is not [end p3] all right for people in power. There are twelve of us. The Commission is looking in detail at the implications. That will take some time.

I remember in Britain we first applied to go in 1961; we finally got in in 1973. Even when we had our second main round of trying to get in, the implications and the negotiations were very very lengthy. We must indeed wait for the report of the Commission but I think that the steps that Mr Özal is taking in strengthening the Turkish economy—raising the standard of living of the people will be a great help when it comes to consider the Commission's report because it will diminish the differences because otherwise it would be very high indeed.

Question

…   . (totally inaudible)

Prime Minister

It is not indeed for Britain to have a new initiative on the Cyprus issue. The two communities themselves will have to negotiate and get together. President Vassiliou, as you know, came to see me. We were instrumental some time ago in persuading Perez de Cuellar to come back himself to help negotiate this issue and we were deeply disappointed when those negotiations which appeared to be going well came to a temporary halt. We believe that it is those negotiations which … most fruitful to start up again although the atmosphere is very good now between Turkey and Greece and that of course helps. It helps very much. It is when you actually get down to the detailed negotiations that the difficulties occur and compromises have to be made and it will be a test of whether the two communities really do want a unitary Cyprus with a federal constitution. [end p4]

Having said that, there are quite a lot of difficult steps to get over but the framework which Perez de Cuellar laid out is there.

Question

Did you … (inaudible)

Prime Minister

We did discuss his differences on economic views very briefly.

Question

What were your impressions … about the state of the economy that he told you?

Prime Minister

I do not have an impression about the state of the economy that Turgut Özalhe told me. I have the impression in reality that the Turkish economy has been transformed, the impression in reality of the enormously strong growth where you see construction everywhere. You see the evidence of your own eyes.

Question

… did he supply the initiative … human rights and … democracy … (inaudible)

Prime Minister

I have discussed human rights with Mr Özal before and I am sure that he is doing everything he possibly can to see full human rights are enjoyed in Turkey and he personally is doing everything he possibly can.

Question

Prime Minister … organisation of … (inaudible) [end p5]

Prime Minister

That is a matter of course which is discussed in NATO in the relevant NATO committee and will be discussed following the NATO meeting. It was important to get the right communique there and we did but the application of it is discussed in the NATO planning council.

Question

Prime Minister … Did you have any suggestions about the …?

Prime Minister

We have got our inflation rate down and I am sure that is an objective too of Mr Özal 's policy. It is possible to get it down and I am sure that he will be getting it down.

Question

… (inaudible)

Prime Minister

On the high side. They are quite easy equations. If you divide the figure of your inflation into sixty-seven it will tell you the number of years it takes to halve the value of your money. Before too long it is still too high but it does take a time to get it down. Our worst in fact, was 27%; in the post-war period and it has taken quite a time to get that down but we have been at 3–4%; for some time.

Question

… (inaudible)

Prime Minister

I think the two economies are very different. They are in a different stage of development—a very different stage of [end p6] development. Do not forget that our movement from the rural areas to the towns took place a long time ago and in the post-war period, the numbers of people in Britain who are actually engaged in producing food are only about 2½%; of our workforce. You simply cannot compare the stage of the two economies but our policies of sound finance and encouraging enterprise—you have to have the two—are the same as the stage of development is different but we are actually two of the economies—one an older economy than this one and Turkey a much newer, a new building economy—ironically are the two economies in Europe—although at different stages—both growing fastest. It is very interesting.

Question

Prime Minister … expressing … very important NATO role … Britain's policy for Turkey during the Western European Union …

Prime Minister

Well, I have indicated our views in the several speeches I have made and in the statement. We have a traditional friendship with Turkey. We were very helpful to Turkey because of that friendship at a time when things were difficult in the Council of Europe. We were very helpful when we were in the Presidency of the European Community over the Association Agreement which has not been operating to the full and we brought it back to the forefront of the Community's affairs and the Association Agreement is going much better.

As you know, we want that Association Agreement to go even better still in the strategy of coming to join the EEC. You asked about the WEU—I thought you were meaning about the EEC. The [end p7] views I take about the WEU is yes, it is a valuable organisation but the real decisions are taken and must continue to be taken by NATO. That is the decision making body. That includes us all. It includes both sides of the Atlantic, which is very very important and any other structure has its uses but is very small compared with NATO.

Question

… Do you feel that … (inaudible)

Prime Minister

The Perez de Cuellar document is the one you are talking about with the four groups of negotiations. Yes, I think that which ever way you look at it, those problems are the ones which you will have not only to have addressed but will have to be solved, and I believe that the method of negotiation there, of negotiating on each of the four groups, but any agreement you reach on one group is provisional on having satisfaction on all four … It is the right method of negotiation.

You see, you can get the general atmosphere right. You can express the will to reach a settlement. The test of the will in the end is not the mere expression of it. The test of the will is whether the two communities are necessary each to give a little to the other to reach a constitution which would be a unitary state of Cyprus on the federal model. For that you have just got to get down to the details and it is not easy but that is the real test of an expressed will.

There is a new opportunity with a new Georgios VassiliouPresident having been elected and I hope myself that that opportunity will be taken but [end p8] the real people to negotiate are the two communities themselves. Obviously it is important that the atmosphere between Turkey and Greece be a good one and of course it is important to us. We gave what we thought was a very good constitution to Cyprus on independence many years ago and we were a guarantor power and we still retain a very great interest in the future of Cyprus.

Question

… (inaudible)

Prime Minister

No, what I am saying is that that particular document is still extremely valuable, that I believe that the negotiations should be continued through Perez de Cuellar, whether in continuing the negotiations they wish to modify that document, that is a matter for the two communities but there is a basic document there, there are the negotiations conducted by Mr Perez de Cuellar and I think that that, with the two communities, offers the best hope of reaching a solution. It is better not to put constraints at this point of time because if you do I do not think it will be helpful in getting the new negotiations going.

Question

Are you… British Government … (inaudible)

Prime Minister

We discussed a number of contracts because we are interested in increasing trade between Britain and Turkey and we believe that many of the proposals we have put forward on many of the contracts are likely to win on merit and you believe that these things should win on merit against the basic background of friendship between [end p9] Britain and Turkey. We did not put the emphasis on any one contract but we discussed a number and we hope to get a number. We are good. We are worth knowing.

Question

Prime Minister, what did he say about the … suggestion of the implications that in the …?

Prime Minister

Of course you can, but you attack me first so can I … myself? Yes, you will remember that there was a famous “Non” which stopped the first negotiations and then the second negotiations were started as soon as Mr Heath 's Government of which I was a member came into power. They were very very detailed negotiations and we were in then by about 1973. In this case the Commission has first to make a report and when the Commission has made the report, the twelve members will consider it and then one has to decide where the detailed negotiations start.

Question

We understand that yesterday's … political issues; are all those issues … economic or are there any others in other spheres, perhaps a question of Turkey's democratic stability?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think there is any question of Turkey's democratic stability. I think we have reached that. No, it is the normal negotiation bearing in mind that by 1992 we will have reached the Single Market which of course has difficulties itself for new entrants including even Spain and Portugal. But no, the matters to which you alluded was not in the forefront—I think—of anyone's [end p10] minds.

Everyone satisfied? Not quite.

Question

… the application … (inaudible)

Mr Özal

I do not want to talk on that assumption.

Prime Minister

No, I agree. Do not jump to conclusions. It is totally inadvisable. The application is being considered in the normal way. In the meantime the Association Agreement is being extended and operated to the full and it is a very good Association Agreement. It has a customs union under that Association Agreement, there is considerable help towards Turkey, the fourth protocol would release considerably more help towards them; 600 million ECU, I think, the fourth protocol. All of that is going well.

Turkey's economy is being transformed and her standard of living coming higher. All of that is going well. I think it would be far better if you considered this as an application which is going ahead in the normal way but I have been through two since I have been in, both with Spain and Portugal, and they were very tricky to deal with in detail. But this is going in the normal way and we will have a decision to make when the Commission have reported but in the meantime the Association Agreement is being operated to a far greater extent than ever before and Turkey's economy is improving almost monthly.

Question

Do you expect the information about the …   . (inaudible) [end p11]

Prime Minister

No, the conditions on ECGD we look at on the basis of the country's economy and also we have to some of the contracts we have already attached very considerable provision under the aid and trade arrangement that we have otherwise ECGD, you do not just alter things by a visit, you look at the fundamental underlying economy and when there are changes then that is because there are changes in the fundamental underlying economy.

Question

You were taking about the implementation … (inaudible) so what do you think …

Prime Minister

I simply do not understand the latter question at all. As far as the first one is concerned, it was we who helped to get the Association Agreement going again and got the third protocol released. We are not blocking the fourth protocol; we would like it to come into effect. Now I cannot answer for the European Parliament; they have to answer for themselves but I can only say the atmosphere on the Association Agreement has been steadily improving. We shall do our best to get the fourth protocol unblocked and I think that the steps that are being taken in Turkey, which are already transforming the Turkish economy, which are raising the standard of living of the Turkish people, are very helpful.

I think that the position with regard to the free movement of peoples has been understood and is still understood and should there be a negotiation, there is always a very long transitional [end p12] period and one which usually involves restrictions on the free movement of people but the stronger the economy becomes, you know, the less difficult that matter gets.

Now the second one I simply did not understand.

I think I should not be too pessimistic. I think you will find that the Association Agreement has improved in the last two years and just as you have seen one improvement and just as you are seeing a great improvement in the Turkish Economy, so I think you will see greater improvements in the future but I think you will have to enter this in a reasonably positive frame of mind—which I am sure Mr Özal is—and then expect there to be a reasonably positive approach from the Community as a whole.

Some of the difficulties will be financial and some of the other twelve would have to be prepared to face those difficulties. As you know, the two big net contributors to the Community are Germany and ourselves; Germany the biggest and we, the second biggest. These are matters which will have to be discussed among the twelve. In the meantime things are going ahead normally and the Association Agreement is improving and we shall do our level best at the next meeting to try to unblock that fourth protocol.

Question

Mrs Thatcher, … the EEC continuing … the fourth protocol…?

Prime Minister

Well, we will do our level best to unblock it. It was a part of the Association Agreement. It would release 600 million ECU. I think it would be an earnest of good faith if it were unblocked and [end p13] I would like to see that fourth protocol released and go ahead.

Question

… (inaudible)

Prime Minister

Not on this occassion. You asked a clear question; you got a clear answer.