Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 93
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs ( Perkins )
Subject: Meeting with Mr. Kraft
|Present:||Mr. Kraft, Foreign Minister of Denmark|
The Foreign Minister indicated that there was real opposition to the admission of Greece and Turkey into NATO in his country. While the opposition which had existed in the creation of NATO, and particularly the admission of Italy into it, had been largely overcome, now that it would be faced with the admission of Greece and Turkey the opposition to the concept of NATO would start all over again and would augment tension in his country. He also said that the method of announcement had caused real trouble.
Mr. Acheson agreed that the method of announcement had been most unfortunate and completely unintended on the part of the United States.
Mr. Kraft indicated that it showed a disregard for the small Powers which was most unfortunate. He said that he would be obliged to oppose the suggestion and that the Standing Group paper was not pleasing to Denmark. He also said that the suggestion indicated in the beginning to the addition of other members into the NATO. Mr. Kraft raised the question of the power of the Standing Group in matters of this kind.
So far as Denmark was concerned, their attitude would depend on that of other countries. They might be able to reconsider their decision to oppose as they did not want to be the only ones to veto. However, before he could agree not to veto he would have to check with his Government again.
Mr. Acheson pointed out the interest which the United States had in the natural entity of the NAT. He said that he could understand that some of the countries felt that Greece and Turkey were far away and that Turkey was a country of different traditions. He further pointed out that Greece was the originator of democracy, and that the last elections in Turkey had indicated that Turkey was becoming a democratic nation in the real sense. Mr. Acheson went on to say that the real question was whether or not you were giving or getting more out of the arrangement. The protection of the southern flank of the European Command was an important element. Greece and Turkey not only protected this flank but also added real military strength to [Page 662] NATO. He pointed out that if the Soviets attacked Greece and Turkey, to all intents and purposes the Western countries were committed to come to their defense, but that if we were attacked there was not a reciprocal commitment that these two countries would come to the defense of the West.
Mr. Kraft mentioned that both countries belonged to the UN.
Mr. Acheson admitted that this was true but that the UN commitments were not binding, and that if both these countries were bound and if Yugoslavia came in on the side of the West it would pin down a great many Soviet troops and keep them away from Western Europe. There were also considerable assets in Greece and Turkey from the point of view of our air forces. He felt that if NATO were one country it would be wise to make an alliance with Greece and Turkey because we were not increasing our liability but adding to our strength.
As to the Command question, Mr. Acheson indicated that if Greece and Turkey were in NATO their defense as NATO Powers would be directed from NATO as was that of other countries. But we did have to recognize that Turkey faced two ways and that this was an important factor in the geographical picture of the Middle East. The whole Middle East was of considerable importance to Europe particularly because of the oil resources and its line of communications facilities. It was also of great importance to pull the Middle East together and Turkey could help in this task. All this resulted in the dual command set-up proposed by the Standing Group.
Mr. Acheson indicated that there were three principles involved. One was that NATO was to be responsible for the territory of NATO Members. The second was that NATO was not responsible for the territory of non-members, particularly in this instance the Arab States. The third was that the common direction of effort was important and desirable. He felt that perhaps these principles should be made known and that a public report on the problem might be useful.
Mr. Kraft said that the comments of Mr. Acheson had been very helpful but that in the final analysis he had to recognize that admission of Greece and Turkey into NATO would mean additional commitments.
Mr. Acheson stated that he did not believe that the commitments were increased.
Mr. Kraft said that he felt that this might tend to precipitate war now and that the West, particularly Denmark, was not now ready. All in all, he felt it was very difficult to explain to his people. Later, if they had more time, they might be able to bring popular opinion around to support this additional membership, but indicated that this might involve a period of as much as a year or two. He then asked about the possibility of a Mediterranean arrangement.[Page 663]
Mr. Acheson pointed out that the great difficulty with this was that it was not a reciprocal obligation and that it was important to have reciprocal, commitments from Greece and Turkey to the NAT countries.