CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: Pre Mins 1–5
United States Delegation Minutes, Second Session, Preliminary Conversations for the September Foreign Ministers Meetings, Washington, August 29, 1950, 3:00 to 4:30 p. m. 1
Delegations: British: Burrows, Greenhill,
French: Daridan, de Boisgelin, de Margerie, van Laethem2
United States: Yost (Chairman), Jackson, Mac-Arthur, O’Shaughnessy, Raynor, Rountree, Millar (Recorder)3
Subject: Security Problem in the Near East and Africa
The U.S. began the discussion by stating that the Turks had recently approached the Norwegians, Danes, Belgians and Italians, as well as other countries, in an effort to obtain support for the Turkish attempt to join the NAT.4 The U.S. does not have a firm position regarding the question of Turkish participation in the NAT but does feel that it would be desirable that the reply to Turkey should come from the NAT as a body rather than from individual members.[Page 1142]
The U.S. reported that Mr. Spofford5 had been informed about the recent Turkish approaches to NAT member countries and about our view as to the desirability of obtaining consent in the Council regarding a unanimous reply to Turkey. It was also made clear that Mr. Spofford has not been instructed to discuss with the other Deputies the substance of the question of Turkish participation. The French and British stated that they had no instructions on this subject.
The French stated that the question of a military commitment to Turkey was not of the same urgency for France or Britain as possibly for the U.S., in view of the Anglo-Franco-Turkish Treaty of 1939 which is still in effect.
No decision was reached regarding the question of a unanimous response regarding Turkish participation in the NAT. It was agreed, however, that there should be tripartite discussion regarding Turkish admission to the NAT prior to substantive discussion of the question in the NAT Council.
Mr. Yost then suggested that the delegates consider other aspects of Greek and Turkish participation in the NAT. The U.S. proceeded to outline U.S. views regarding the Turkish request to enter NAT. The U.S. position in the matter has not, it was said, been formulated as yet but is now under active consideration by military and political authorities. Turkey had made previous requests to join the Pact, in connection with which the U.S. position had been that, although considerable progress had been made in establishing the organizational framework envisaged in the NAT there still remained the important problem of implementing the Pact by concrete steps designed to strengthen the collective defensive capacity of the treaty nations, and until these objectives had been realized we did not feel able to further extend our formal security commitments. Turkey, however, increased its efforts since the outbreak of the Korean War. The Turks’ position is that the NATO is not strictly an Atlantic organization since Italy is a member.
The U.S. felt that since past U.S. statements concerning its interest in Turkish security had linked Greece and Iran with Turkey, and the three are linked in the military aid legislation, it would be inadvisable to admit Turkey into the Pact without admitting Greece, although Iran could not be included in view of its non-European status. In this case it would probably be desirable to make a strong statement supporting Iranian security.
Greek and Turkish accession to the NAT would create new problems of organization and planning since their adherence would involve two new countries from a new area.[Page 1143]
The U.S. suggested consideration of the following alternatives if it is decided to exclude the countries from NATO, but further decided that some new form of reassurance should be found:
- Establishment of a new regional pact to be made up initially of Greece, Turkey and Iran. The British, French and U.S. might lend their support to this organization.
- Admit Greece and Turkey to NAT discussions, possibly in a Mediterranean section, on a consultative basis. It was pointed out that they would not be content with this arrangement permanently and at some future time would probably renew their attempts to become members of the Pact.
- New unilateral declarations by the British, French and U.S. Governments concerning the security of Greece, Turkey and Iran.
The U.S. then stated it would be helpful to have the reactions of the other delegations to these views.
The U.K. replied that it might be most useful at this time to express their general attitude regarding the security of Greece and Turkey. The British objective would be to get tripartite agreement to an analysis of the threats to the security of Greece and Turkey and measures that would be necessary to reassure the people of those countries and to assist them to resist aggression. This analysis should then be presented to the Foreign Ministers as a basis for discussion of the Turkish request to join the NAT.
In the British view, security of the whole Middle East would be jeopardized if Russia gained control of either Greece or Turkey, and as Middle East security is vital to the security of the western world, Soviet control of Greece or Turkey would jeopardize the security of the West as well. Russia might gain control of Greece or Turkey by the following means: revival of guerrilla activity in Greece; attack by Bulgaria upon Greece or Turkey; or an attack by Russia itself. Revival of guerrilla activity is the least unlikely of the three possibilities, but it would be the least difficult with which to cope. The British estimated that there were 5,000 guerrillas in Bulgaria and 2,500 in Albania. They are demoralized but still respond to orders. The Greek Army could cope successfully with this eventuality.
If Bulgaria should attack, northern Greece could be defended but the Greeks would require an increase of military equipment, particularly anti-tank guns for use against Bulgarian medium tanks. Certain military equipment of this type should be supplied to Greece as soon as possible against the eventuality of a Bulgarian attack. In case of an attack, it would be necessary to increase the amount of military supplies now being provided by the U.S. and Britain. Resistance to Bulgarian aggression would place such a strain upon the Greek economy and armed forces that direct military assistance would probably be necessary. A Russian veto in the Security Council could [Page 1144] be counted upon, but aid could be provided under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.6
An overt Russian attack on Greece would probably lead to a general war. The Russians must be well aware of this probable consequence in view of British and U.S. statements regarding their interest in the integrity of Greece.
In discussing how Greek participation in the NAT or some type of tripartite guarantee might affect the three possible threats to Greek security, the British stated that since the Greek Army alone could cope with guerrilla attack without outside assistance, no new assurance of support to Greece is required to counter successfully the eventuality of guerrilla warfare. The possibility of a Bulgarian attack would be reduced, however, if Greece were a member of the NAT or if there were a direct guarantee from the U.S. or other powers. Neither the guarantee afforded by NAT membership nor a commitment from the U.S. would diminish the possibility of Russian attack, since it is already sufficiently clear to Russia that Russian aggression would precipitate a general war. The present British view is that the Russians do not intend to risk general war by either a Russian or Bulgarian attack, but are relying upon their support of Communists within Greece to gain control of the labor unions and political organizations and thus to implement Russian objectives in Greece. Communist control of the trade unions, however, has not reached serious proportions. The British endorse the conclusions of the U.N. Commission on the Balkans (UNSCOB) that the Commission should continue to observe activities on the northern frontier of Greece.
The British believe that the situation with regard to an attack on Turkey is similar to that discussed in connection with Greece, with the exception that the French and British are already committed with regard to Turkey by the Treaty of 1939. Since the U.S. has declared itself deeply interested in the security of Turkey, the Russians must be aware that direct attack involves the risk of a general war. The British believe that Turkey is more secure internally than Greece and that no special cold war techniques are needed to maintain the security of Turkey. The common objective should be to make Turkey as effective an ally as possible.
In conclusion, the British delegation stated that the Foreign Ministry has no definite views regarding the admission of Greece and Turkey to the NAT. In view of the foregoing analysis the principal [Page 1145] advantage to be obtained by such admission would be psychological, in that Greece and Turkey would be more willing to resist aggression if they received renewed assurances of support. The British expressed the hope that the Delegations would agree to the foregoing analysis and so inform the Foreign Ministers, and that agreement could also be reached regarding the necessity of increased military supplies to Greece in the event of Bulgarian attack.
The French stated that they had no instructions on the question of Turkish admission to the NAT and that they believe the matter should be decided at the Foreign Ministers level. In their personal view, however, they believe that France is definitely interested in the security of the countries mentioned. They agreed with the British that Turkey was more secure internally than Greece, that in the event of a Bulgarian attack on Turkey assistance could be furnished under Article 51, and that a Russian attack on Turkey would precipitate a general war. They also agreed that a U.S. guarantee to Turkey would bolster Turkey psychologically to resist aggression.
With regard to Greece, the French agreed with the British evaluation that the Greek army was capable of resisting a renewed guerrilla attack and that in the event of Bulgarian aggression assistance could be furnished under Article 51. They also agreed that there could be no doubt that Russia understood that a Russian attack on Greece would precipitate a general war. The French stated also that they believed the principal advantage of an assurance of support would be psychological. It was their opinion, however, that it was up to the Foreign Ministers to balance the pros and cons of Greek and Turkish admission into the NAT. Possibly the admission of Greece and Turkey might provoke the USSR. They thought that France would probably be unwilling to guarantee the security of Iran since in the event of aggression France would not be able to extend effective help.
Mr. Yost suggested that further consideration might be given to two of the points mentioned: first, whether the entry of Greece and Turkey into the NAT would act as a deterrent to the USSR; and secondly, whether—if they were not admitted—it would be necessary to give some other assurances of support to offset an unfavorable psychological reaction. The U.S. pointed out that this might be necessary since at least in Turkey the question of entry into the NAT had become an important national political issue; and that if Turkey’s request was not approved Turkish morale might be adversely affected.
Commenting on the British and French remarks, with which the U.S. generally agreed, the U.S. stated that an attack by Bulgaria on Greece might also involve Albanian aggression, although the power [Page 1146] of Albanian forces is not very great. The U.S. estimate of potential guerrilla forces was higher than that mentioned by the British but the differences were slight. The U.S. agreed that the Greek army would be able to cope with a guerrilla attack, but, if it is on a large scale, felt that some increase in the amount of military equipment being provided to Greece might be necessary to maintain an adequate defense level. It was added that the subject of Greek capabilities vis-à-vis Bulgaria was under active study at the present time in the light of current information concerning Bulgarian forces. The U.S. agreed that UNSCOB should continue to function on the Greek frontier.
The British and French stated that they were not aware of any position by their governments with regard to the advisability of extending some assurances to Greece and Turkey for psychological reasons in case they were not admitted to the NAT at this time.
The U.S. asked whether the Delegations should advise the Foreign Ministers that they felt some consideration should be given to this question either now or in the near future. The British replied they probably would not receive instructions on this point in time to reach agreement prior to the meeting of the Foreign Ministers.
The meeting was adjourned after the U.S. suggested that the reasons for not admitting the countries to the NAT were not all valid with regard to the inclusion of the countries in one of the alternate plans.
- Attached to the source text was a cover sheet, not printed, which indicated that the series designator for these minutes was SFM Pre 2.↩
- Giles de Boisgelin, Attaché, and Gabriel van Laethem, Second Secretary of the French Embassy in Washington.↩
- Douglas MacArthur II, Deputy Director of the Office of European Regional Affairs; William M. Rountree, Director of the Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs; John Y. Millar, Office of Western European Affairs.↩
- For further documentation on Greek and Turkish efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty, see pp. 220 ff.↩
- Charles M. Spofford, United States Deputy Representative at the North Atlantic Council.↩
- Article 51 stated in part: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”↩