CSCE :: Statement :: Turkey and Possible Military Equipment Sales
United States of America
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 106th CONGRESS, 2nd SESSION
Washington, Thursday, November 2, 2000
House of Representatives
TURKEY AND POSSIBLE MILITARY EQUIPMENT SALES
Thursday, November 2, 2000
TURKEY AND POSSIBLE MILITARY EQUIPMENT SALES HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH of New Jersey
Mr. Speaker, the United States has a longstanding dynamic relationship with our NATO
ally, the Republic of Turkey, and I believe that the strength of that relationship relies on forthright candor. I have willingly
recognized positive developments in Turkey, and I have sought to present fairly the various human rights concerns as
they have arisen. Today, I must bring to my colleagues' attention pending actions involving the Government of Turkey
which seem incongruous with the record in violation of human rights. I fear the planned sale of additional military aircraft
to Turkey could potentially have further long-term, negative effects on human rights in that country.
As Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I presided over a hearing in March of 1999 that addressed many human rights
concerns. The State Department had just released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices covering 1998.
Commissioner and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Harold Hongju Koh noted in
testimony before the Commission that `serious human rights abuses continued in Turkey in 1998, but we had hoped that
the 1998 report would reflect significant progress on Turkey's human rights record. Prime Minister Yilmaz had publicly
committed himself to making the protection of human rights his government's highest priority in 1998. We had welcomed
those assurances and respected the sincerity of his intentions. We were disappointed that Turkey had not fully translated
those assurances into actions.'
I noted in my opening statement, `One year after a commission delegation visited Turkey, our conclusion is that there has
been no demonstrable improvement in Ankara's human rights practices and that the prospects for much needed systemic
reforms are bleak given the unstable political scene which is likely to continue throughout 1999.'
Thankfully, eighteen months later I can say that the picture has improved--somewhat.
A little over a year ago the president of Turkey's highest court made an extraordinary speech asserting that Turkish
citizens should be granted the right to speak freely, urging that the legal system and constitution be `cleansed,' and that
existing `limits on language' seriously compromised the freedom of expression. The man who gave that speech, His
Excellency Ahmet Necdet Sezer, is the new President of the Republic of Turkey. Last summer several of us on the
Commission congratulated President Sezer on his accession to the presidency, saying, in part:
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We look forward to working with you and members of your administration, especially as you endeavor to fulfill your
commitments to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and commitments contained in other Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) documents. These human rights fundamentals are the bedrock upon which European human
rights rest, the solid foundation upon which Europe's human rights structures are built. It is worth remembering, twenty-five
years after the signing of the Final Act, that your predecessor, President Demerel, signed the commitments at Helsinki on behalf
of Turkey. Your country's engagement in the Helsinki process was highlighted during last year's OSCE summit in Istanbul, a
meeting which emphasized the importance of freedom of expression, the role of NGOs in civil society, and the eradication of
Your Presidency comes at a very critical time in modern Turkey's history. Adoption and implementation of the reforms you
have advocated would certainly strengthen the ties between our countries and facilitate fuller integration of Turkey into Europe.
Full respect for the rights of Turkey's significant Kurdish population would go a long way in reducing tensions that have festered
for more than a decade, and resulted in the lengthy conflict in the southeast.
Your proposals to consolidate and strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Turkey will be instrumental in
ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity in the Republic. The Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents can serve as
important guides in your endeavor.
We all recall the pending $4 billion sale of advanced attack helicopters to the Turkish army. I have objected to this sale
as leading human rights organizations, Turkish and western press, and even the State Department documented the use of
such helicopters to attack Kurdish villages in Turkey and to transport troops to regions where civilians were killed.
Despite repeated promises, the Turkish Government has been slow to take action which would hold accountable and
punish those who have committed such atrocities.
And we recently learned of the pending sale of eight even larger helicopters, S-80E heavy lift helicopters for Turkey's
Land Forces Command. With a flight radius of over three hundred miles and the ability to carry over fifty armed troops,
the S-80E has the potential to greatly expand the ability of Turkey's army to undertake actions such as I just recounted.
Since 1998, there has been recognition in high-level U.S.-Turkish exchanges that Turkey has a number of longstanding
issues which must be addressed with demonstrable progress: decriminalization of freedom of expression; the release of
imprisoned parliamentarians and journalists; prosecution of police officers who commit torture; an end of harassment of
human rights defenders and re-opening of non-governmental organizations; the return of internally displaced people to
their villages; cessation of harassment and banning of certain political parties; and, an end to the state of emergency in the
The human rights picture in Turkey has improved somewhat in the last several years, yet journalists continue to be
arrested and jailed, human rights organizations continue to feel pressure from the police, and elected officials who are
affiliated with certain political parties, in particular, continue to be harassed.
Anywhere from half a million to 2 million Kurds have been displaced by the Turkish counter insurgency campaigns
against the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as the PKK. The Turkish military has reportedly emptied more than
three thousand villages and hamlets in the southeast since 1992, burned homes and fields, and committed other human
rights abuses against Kurdish civilians, often using types of helicopters similar to those the Administration is seeking to
transfer. Despite repeated promises, the Government of Turkey has taken few steps to facilitate the return of these
peoples to their homes, assist them to resettle, or compensate them for the loss of their property. Nor does it allow
others to help. Even the ICRC has been unable to operate in Turkey. And, finally, four parliamentarians--Leyla Zana,
Hatip Dicle, Orhan DogÿAE5an, and Selim Sadak--continue to serve time in prison. We can not proceed with this sale,
or other sales or transfers, when Turkey's Government fails to live up to the most basic expectations mentioned above.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is also time that the United States establishes an understanding with Turkey and a credible
method of consistent monitoring and reporting on the end-use of U.S. weapons, aircraft and service. An August 2000
report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) entitled `Foreign Military Sales: Changes Needed to Correct
Weaknesses in End-Use Monitoring Program' was a cause for concern on my part regarding the effectiveness of current
end-use monitoring and reporting efforts. While we had been assured that end-use monitoring was taking place and that
the United States was holding recipient governments accountable to the export license criteria, the GAO report reveals
the failure of the Executive Branch to effectively implement monitoring requirements enacted by Congress. For example,
the report points out on page 12:
While field personnel may be aware of adverse conditions in their countries, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency has not
established guidance or procedures for field personnel to use in determining when such conditions require an end-use check.
For example, significant upheaval occurred in both Indonesia and Pakistan within the last several years. As a result, the State
Department determined that both countries are no longer eligible to purchase U.S. defense articles and services. However,
end-use checks of U.S. defense items already provided were not performed in either country in response to the standard.
DSCA officials believed that the State Department was responsible for notifying field personnel that the criteria had been met
for an end-use check to be conducted. However, DSCA and State have never established a procedure for providing
notification to field personnel.
Currently, the end-use monitoring training that DSCA provides to field personnel consists of a 30-minute presentation during
the security assistance management course at the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management. This training is intended
to familiarize students with en-use monitoring requirements. However, this training does not provide any guidance or
procedures on how to execute an end-use monitoring program at overseas posts or when to initiate end-use checks in response
to one of the five standards.
In the past there have been largely ad hoc attempts to report on the end-use of U.S. equipment. Therefore, I was
pleased to support the passage of H.R. 4919, the Security Assistant Act of 2000 that was signed by the President on
October 6. Section 703 of this Act mandates that no later than 180 days after its enactment, the President shall prepare
and transmit to Congress a report summarizing the status of efforts by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency to
implement the End-Use Monitoring Enhancement Plan relating to government-to-government transfers of defense
articles, services, and related technologies. I want to commend House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben
Gilman for his efforts in trying to make our end-use monitoring and reporting programs effective and accurate. I look
forward to working with him and others to ensure that an effective and credible monitoring program is put in place
without further delay.
We must be consistent in our defense of human rights, and our relations, including our military relations, must reflect that
commitment. For this reason, Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to support the sale of additional weaponry and aircraft to
Turkey at this time.