Many Americans trace their heritage to Turkey, and Turks have contributed greatly to our national life - including, most recently, a lot of baskets for the Detroit Pistons from Mehmet Okur. I know youre proud that this son of your country helped to win an NBA championship, and America is proud of him as well.
I am grateful to Prime Minister Erdogan and President Sezer for hosting the members of NATO in an historic time for our alliance. For most of its history, NATO existed to deter aggression from a powerful army at the heart of Europe. In this century, NATO looks outward to new threats that gather in secret and bring sudden violence to peaceful cities. We face terrorist networks that rejoice when parents bury their murdered children, or bound men plead for their lives. We face outlaw regimes that give aid and shelter to these killers, and seek weapons of mass murder. We face the challenges of corruption and poverty and disease, which throw whole nations into chaos and despair - the conditions in which terrorism can thrive.
Some on both sides of the Atlantic have questioned whether the NATO alliance still has a great purpose. To find that purpose, they only need to open their eyes. The dangers are in plain sight. The only question is whether we will confront them, or look away and pay a terrible cost.
Over the last few years, NATO has made its decision. Our alliance is restructuring to oppose threats that arise beyond the borders of Europe. NATO is providing security in Afghanistan. NATO has agreed to help train the security forces of a sovereign Iraq - a great advantage and crucial success for the Iraqi people. And in Istanbul we have dedicated ourselves to the advance of reform in the broader Middle East, because all people deserve a just government, and because terror is not the tool of the free. Through decades of the Cold War, our great alliance of liberty never failed in its duties - and we are rising to our duties once again.
The Turkish people understand the terrorists, because you have seen their work, even in the last few days. You have heard the sirens, and witnessed the carnage, and mourned the dead. After the murders of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Istanbul last November, a resident of this city said of the terrorists, "They do not have any religion ... They are friends of evil." In one of the attacks, a Muslim woman lost her son Ahmet, her daughter-in-law Berta, and her unborn grandchild. She said, "Today Im saying goodbye to my son. Tomorrow Im saying farewell to my Berta. I dont know what [the killers] wanted from my kids. Were they jealous of their happiness?"