January 27, 2004
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday told the American Jewish Congress that Turkey will stand firm to eradicate terrorism worldwide, offers security to its Jewish citizens, and will work to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Erdogan spoke upon the presentation of the AJCongress "Profile of Courage" award at the HSBC Bank in New York. The HSBC Istanbul branch was the target of a terrorist attack on the same day that two Turkish synagogues were bombed in November.
"Today, with the presentation of the ‘Profile of Courage' award to the Turkish Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, by the American Jewish Congress at the New York building of HSBC, there is a strong message being conveyed to archaic terrorist mentality,"Mr. Erdogan said "We will not tolerate terrorism and we will act in solidarity to wipe it from the face of the earth."
The Turkish leader made clear his nation's commitment to standing with the United States. "Our country is against all kinds of terrorism and we support the United States in its efforts in combating international terrorism whole-heartedly."
Prime Minister Erdogan said that Turkish Jews were part of the fabric of Turkish life and did not feel insecure following the terror attacks. "There is no need for our Jewish friends to be concerned about the security of the Jewish community in Turkey. Because they are our citizens and have been entrusted to us by the Jewish world."
Mr. Erdogan called on Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate within the framework of the "Road Map" because while, "We strongly condemn terrorism—we reiterate that the problem can not be resolved solely with military power."
He said Turkey was prepared "to host an international peace conference in Istanbul," and was also prepared to mediate between Syria and Israel.
In presenting the award to Prime Minister Erdogan, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen asked the European Union to immediately set a date for the commencement of talks to admit Turkey as a member.
"Turkey is a model Moslem democracy—one that can have a profound impact helping to spread the concept that nations with a Moslem heritage can adopt modern political values," Mr. Rosen said.