668.811/2–653: Telegram

No. 322
The Ambassador in Turkey (McGhee) to the Department of State1

top secret

969. Re Embtels 956 of February 3 and 961 of February 42 reporting development of Turk-Greek-Yugoslav plans for tripartite pact, and other telegrams from Department, Athens and Belgrade on this subject.

Views submitted herein are for Department’s consideration in connection with policy decisions posed by this question.

Embassy welcomes Deptel 956 of January 31 to Ankara3 as indication Department favorably disposed toward proposed tripartite treaty of friendship. Insofar as Turks concerned, there have been no indications conclusion treaty will be conditioned upon United States-United Kingdom-French concurrence, since Turks consider proposed pact completely consistent with Greek-Turkish NATO commitments. Turks are, however, always sensitive to views of United States and other two principal western allies and hope to receive our encouragement in this new undertaking in which they have assumed important role. Embassy hopes therefore, that United States, as well as British and French, will be speedy and [Page 617] forthcoming in such encouragement, assuming final terms do not in fact contravene NATO or conflict with other United States foreign policy objectives. Such an attitude on our part should provide maximum opportunity for guiding course of pact negotiations along lines desired by United States.
We believe early completion this limited pact advisable for following reasons:
If more direct association Yugoslavia with NATO not possible in immediate future, delay in any substantive step in that direction would probably tend to discourage Yugoslavs and might in fact militate against their eventual effective collaboration with west. Turks feel Yugoslavia now psychologically ripe for such a role through fear of being isolated. Notwithstanding practical limitations in terms of proposed pact, Yugoslavs should as result of pact feel more closely linked with west.
Proposed pact, although general in nature, will meet immediate need for some formal basis upon which collaboration between Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia can be continued and intensified in fields of contingent military planning, economic and cultural relations, as well as in advancing general political understanding.
Proposed pact affords opportunity, apparently with little risk of effective Soviet retaliation, for positive step or “psychological offensive” in general cold war relations. Elements within satellite countries which are hostile to Soviet domination, particularly those in Bulgaria, should be encouraged by pact.
Encouragement of three countries at this stage in development of pact should have salutary effect on our relations with them. With little advice or encouragement from western powers, three countries have on their own made commendable progress in worth while project. It is believed that we should encourage such constructively led initiative which serves to relieve US of direct reponsibilities and charge cold war is only US–Russian struggle.
Proposed pact is considered justifiable as end in itself even if nothing further results. It is recognized, however, that creation pact will inevitably be regarded by three signatories as logical step in direction of association Yugoslavia with NATO in one form or another. Turks were quite clear in their statement to Yugoslavs that this is their objective. Turks feel so stating is not inconsistent with their NATO obligations, since they recognize clearly that no action can be taken in this respect without approval other NATO members.
Embassy recognizes that US policy on Yugoslav association with NATO is matter which must be decided by Department in light overall analysis situation. On basis information available to Embassy, however, we recommend that Department adopt Yugoslav association with NATO as objective and seek by appropriate means to bring it out, in one form or another, as determined most [Page 618] feasible by Department. This view is supported by following considerations:
From strictly military viewpoint it is understanding from military authorities that, without assurance that there will be coordinated defense of Thrace by Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia, there is no certainty that Thrace could be held against Soviet attack, in which event Soviets could penetrate to Aegean and probably take Dardanelles–Bosphorus area. If this happens, Turkey would be separated from her Allies and would remain only as isolated area of resistance. Altho contingent “theoretical” military discussions can continue under proposed pact, effective integration military planning with Yugoslavia cannot be achieved in view restrictions on Greece and Turkey imposed by their membership in NATO.
From political viewpoint, proposed pact can be no more than stop-gap, since limitation upon practical effects will soon become apparent. It is clear that Turkey, and presumably Greece, wish more positive military collaboration with Yugoslavia which is of vital importance to their own security. Close political association between these countries, all relatively isolated from Western Europe and with less possibility for receiving assistance in event of war, would provide Greece and Turkey additional element of security to that which NATO provides. Conversely, Greece and Turkey might find it difficult to understand resistance by their NATO partners to step they consider desirable from general NATO viewpoint and vital to their own security.
Turks have told Yugoslavs that in their judgment any attack on Yugoslovia would lead inevitably to third world war. From strictly US viewpoint, it would appear at least improbable, either militarily or politically that an attack against Yugoslavia even by a satellite, could be treated as another Korea—an isolated war. If it can be concluded that west must react to Soviet or satellite attack against Yugoslavia it would appear preferable to so state clearly now and take advantage of the strong possible decisive deterrent effect this would have against aggression. In any event a NATO commitment is sufficiently flexible to give considerable latitude to choice of aid to be given Yugoslavia in event [they are] subjected to isolated attacks by satellite or Russia.

Turks recognize present objection by other NATO countries to direct Yugo adherence to NATO, which is their first choice, and are prepared to accept it in direct association. Foreign Minister has suggested informally creation of what he termed Southeast Europe defense organization including, he would hope, not only Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia but also US, UK, France and Italy. Turks understand that principal specific opposition to Yugoslav NATO association would come from Italy, but feel that this is basically bargaining position to assure Italy favorable solution to Trieste problem, which they consider secondary and one which should not [Page 619] stand in way of Italian step in common good. In Embassy’s view, Italy’s objections do not appear to have the substance which French objections for example have to admission of Germany to NATO; however, in latter case solution for problem thru EDC has been generally accepted. Turks argue that even if we do not fully trust Yugoslavia, the best course is to associate her with NATO. If Yugoslavia accepts NATO association it will be difficult for her to conceal her true intentions toward NATO or to make less than her maximum defense effort.

Turks believe military factors so paramount this juncture that political consideration should not be allowed to stand in way of all European countries joining NATO who are willing to cooperate in common defense against Russia.

  1. Transmitted in two sections; repeated for information to London, Paris, Athens, Rome, and Belgrade.
  2. Telegram 956 reported that Köprülü’s recent visits to Athens and Belgrade had by his own account revealed real determination to conclude a formal tripartite agreement. (668.811/2–353) Telegram 961 reported that Köprülü himself hoped through the incipient agreement to bring Yugoslavia into NATO. (668.811/2–453)
  3. Telegram 4160 to Paris, supra, was repeated as telegram 956 to Ankara.